Snapshot: Maruti Suzuki has discontinued the 800 hatchback, an iconic car that is often credited for putting India on four wheels. The Maruti 800 had an unbroken production run for over 30 years, with the first car rolling out way back in 1983. The car was first built by Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL), a joint venture of the Indian government and Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan. Suzuki has since bought out the Indian government’s share in MUL. Production of the Maruti 800 ceased on 18th January, 2014.
Although BS4 variants of the Maruti 800 were discontinued a couple of years ago to make the Alto F8D the new entry-level model in Maruti Suzuki’s portfolio, India’s largest car maker continued to produce the 800 hatchback in BS3 guise to cater to the semi-urban and rural parts of the country. The Maruti 800 was also being exported to emerging car markets in South East Asia and Africa. Now though, production of even the BS3 variants of the Maruti 800 has been halted, thus signalling the end of the road for an automotive legend of India.
At a time of its launch in the winter of 1983, the Maruti Suzuki 800 represented a higher quality Japanese alternative to cars such as the Hindustan Ambassador and the Premier Padmini. At a time when reliability and fuel efficiency weren’t really the selling points of cars in India, the Maruti 800 brought Japanese reliability and frugality to the table, thus giving Indian car buyers their first real trust with compact, fuel efficient and bomb-proof reliable cars. The 800 will remain an icon in the automotive landscape of the country, more so since the car was the one on which many generation of Indians learnt driving.
The Maruti 800 was powered by a 3 cylinder-F8D petrol engine that was known for its peppy performance, reliability, low maintenance costs and high fuel efficiency. A 4 speed manual gearbox was standard. Air conditioning was added 3 years after the car’s launch here. The carburetted version of the F8D motor on the Maruti 800 output 37 Bhp-59 Nm, with a more powerful 45 Bhp-62 Nm version outfitted to the 5 speed version of the car that was sold for a brief period of time. When the Bharat Stage 1 emission norms kicked in during 2000, Maruti Suzuki added 4 valves/cylinder and MPFI (fuel injection) to the Maruti 800.
Notably, the Maruti 800 never saw a factory fitted, power steering equipped variant in its lifetime although the aftermarket modifiers did come up with power steering kit for the light car that actually never needed a power steering. In fact, the direct and connected non-power assisted steering of the Maruti 800, in tandem with its compact dimensions gave it a near go-kart like fun-to-drive driving feel. However, Maruti did equip the 800 with LPG dual fuel kits. Maruti has sold over 2.66 million units of the 800 hatchback in India, making it the largest sold car model in the country’s automotive history.
Do take a few moments off to watch this evocative ad of the Maruti 800 that succinctly conveys what the car has meant for lakhs of Indians,
Image courtesy Team-BHP