If you are planning to buy your first car – which one is a better choice for you? The new Maruti Alto 800 or the Tata Nano, which was originally intended to be the people’s car and first car for many. Choosing between the Nano and the Alto is governed by two factors – use of the car and budget.

Based on these two parameters, let’s take a look at how the Tata Nano LX top-end variant and the Maruti Alto 800 STD (base Alto variant) stack up. Also read: Is the Nano more practical than Alto?

 

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Nano for pricing

The Tata Nano LX is priced at just under Rs. 2 lakh while the Maruti Alto base variant is priced at Rs. 2.40 lakh, a difference of about Rs. 40,000. However, if you want airconditioning, then you have to pick the Maruti Alto 800 LX variant that’s priced at Rs. 2.73 lakh. Given that difference in price, if budget is a concern and you can’t stretch your budget, the Tata Nano is the car to pick, as it would come to just about Rs. 2.3 lakh on road, while the Maruti Alto will cost Rs 3 lakh on road. If you are buying this on EMI, this would add about Rs. 2000 to your monthly EMI.

Nano also for features

So even though the Tata Nano is a cheaper car, does it lack in features? If you compare the top-end LX Nano with the base Maruti Alto STD, it has more to offer. The Nano LX comes with two front power windows and airconditioning, as well as fog lamps. You won’t get any of these features on the Alto STD. However, on the Alto LX you get airconditioning, and only on the LXI do you get power steering and two front-power windows – but that’s Rs. 1 lakh more than the Tata Nano. Also read: Best first cars under Rs. 6 lakh

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Maruti Alto for space

But if you are looking for space for four passengers (five at a squeeze) and luggage carrying capacity the Maruti Alto is better. The Alto has about 170 litres of luggage space compared to just 80 litres (with a non-openable hatch) behind the rear seat in the Nano. That said, the Nano has as much head room and legroom as the Alto for four passengers – it is surprisingly spacious. The Nano was better than the earlier Alto on space, but is now at par with the new Alto 800.

 

Maruti Alto for performance

The Tata Nano is powered by a 624 cc two cylinder engine that makes 38 bhp of power and 51 Nm of torque, with a four-speed transmission. It has a claimed mileage of 24 kmpl. The Maruti Alto is powered by a revised 796 cc three cylinder engine putting out 47.5 bhp of power and 69 Nm of torque with a five-speed transmission. This makes the Alto a much better performer overall, and it can handle highway and city traffic easily, unlike the Nano which is restricted to 105 kmph top-speed and feels strained beyond 90 kmph.

Overall, the Tata Nano is a car you should pick only if you are on a tight budget and want a car just to run around in the city – it’s not a car for the highway. The Maruti Alto on the other hand would be a more practical car, that can take you out of town as well as perform well in the city, but it will cost you Rs. 1 lakh more. Also read: Best first cars for beginners