The new dashboard looks more contemporary and is functional too. The centre console and dome-shaped A/C vents help inject some freshness into this car's interiors. Yet, the interiors simply don't match the pizazz of the Hyundai Eon. As one would expect of an economy car, the plastics are economy grade, with the door armrests and map pockets feeling particularly cheap. The accelerator pedal doesn't even get a rubber cover! On the other hand, the steering wheel and switchgear have acceptable levels of quality. Silver accents do bring a little upmarket feel, while the A, B & C Pillars get plastic trim (no exposed metal here). The air-conditioner controls are identical to the older Alto, and the front power window switches are now placed in the center (just below the gear lever). Even though most interior parts are new, you'll notice a couple of bits & pieces from the old Alto. For a car of its price, the interior feels well-screwed together. There aren't obvious rough edges or loosely fitted components. Driver visibility is good all around. The non cab-forward design means that the A-Pillars don't block frontal view. Lateral vision is satisfactory and the low rear seat means rearward visibility isn't bad either.
The Alto's seats are placed on the lower side. Egress isn't as easy as with other tallboy hatchbacks. Since the wheelbase & seat anchorage points are the same, there is no major change to the legroom. Headroom, however, has increased by 15 mm due to the taller roof. The limited width means that front seat occupants sit very close to each other and easily intrude into each other's space. Maruti has kept the door panels flat so as to maximise the interior width, but this is still an extremely narrow car. The upholstery is economy grade, yet it feels appropriate for a car of this price point. On the top Lxi variant, the door pads get fabric inserts. The front seats have a longer fore & aft travel range, releasing a good amount of leg space for front passengers. Even a 6' 2" tall driver like me had no problem fitting into the driver's seat. You can push the front seat all the way back only when the rear bench isn't occupied though. The small sized front seats are basic and nearly flat, with no contours or bolstering to speak of. Don't expect much support from them. Back support is very rudimentary...you can expect long journeys to be a tiring experience. The front seat's headrests have been combined into the seat back, just like in the Nano and Eon. No, they aren't a comfortable spot to rest your head on.
The 3-spoke airbag-equipped steering wheel is nice to hold. The horn pad stretches out wide enough and is effortless to access. Just like the old Alto, the steering wheel is placed on the lower side. Personally, I love low steering wheels, though there will be folk who may not like it this way. The steering is in a fixed position and doesn't have tilt adjustment (the Hyundai Eon does). Overall ergonomics are satisfactory and most controls are placed right where you'd expect them to be. The A-B-C pedals are comfortable and the gear shifter falls right into your hand. The power window switches positioned just below the gear lever will take some getting used to. The only analogue part of the instrument console is the speedometer. The fuel gauge is digital and right below it are the twin trip meters & odometer. The readouts are reasonably sized and thus, the digital data is easy to read. No temperature gauge, although you do get a warning light for an overheating engine. A cigarette lighter / 12v power socket is placed to the left of the steering rack. The driver side ORVM is manually adjustable from the inside. Shockingly, even the top-end LXi doesn't get an ORVM on the passenger side of the car. It's an optional add-on.
The slim front seats have scooped-in backs to release 15 mm more knee room for rear passengers. Still, the Alto's rear bench has very limited space. Fact is, the cheaper Tata Nano's rear seat has significantly more space & comfort. If you sit behind a tall front passenger, things will get terribly cramped. Legroom is only slightly improved over the ol' Alto, and the limited width means this car is a 4 seater at best. Also, the floor hump is of prominent height. The rear bench has a short seat-back that won't offer the required support to taller passengers. The rear headrests can only be used by smaller passengers or kids. Just like at the front, rear headroom has noticeably improved. On the other hand, the rear windows are smaller than in the outgoing car and don't let as much light into the back area. The Alto 800 is equipped with a strong air-conditioner that cools the cabin sufficiently well. The A/C system is a full HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit. The center air-vents have no volume control but the circular vents on either side of the dashboard can be completely closed. No variant of the Alto comes with a music system from the factory. There is a single DIN slot to fit in an after-market stereo (as the one our test car was equipped with). The front doors have dedicated spots to install speakers.
In terms of storage, you'll find a rectangular cut-out above the glove box. This is a handy spot to store the odd items, as is the smaller cut-out below the hazard light switch. There is a medium size compartment right ahead of the gear lever which can hold a 1-liter water bottle (lying flat). You could place your mobile phone here; the area has dedicated coin holders too. To the right of the driver is another cubby hole on the dashboard. Only the driver's door gets a small map pocket. The glovebox is adequately wide & deep. However, the quality of construction is poor. Our test car's glovebox refused to close at times! The 177 liter boot is similar in size to the outgoing car and is par for the course in this segment. The rear seat can be folded down for more luggage, albeit there is no 60:40 split facility. Our test car was kitted with an el cheapo parcel tray that appears to have been built to serious cost targets.