HOW TO: Turn the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 into a Smart Car
The 2014 Alto K10 VXI AMT may be the best car to drive on the Kolkata roads, but it comes without the bells and whistles found on higher segment cars. With the right aftermarket accessories, I have been able to turn it into a smart car!
Set the Time
The Alto K10’s basic MID (multi-information display) has a digital clock which can be turned on easily. Using the MID stalk, I swapped the Odometer reading with the digital clock and then set the time. I really appreciate having the time displayed right in front of my eyes as I no longer have to look at my watch while driving.
The Alto K10 VXI doesn’t come with in-built Bluetooth, a must have feature for hands-free driving. I bought a device called GoGroove SMARTmini AUX which connects to the Aux port of the car and pairs with my phone. It lets me play music and place calls via the car speakers over Bluetooth. I had purchased it on iBhejo.com for ₹2,390. GoGroove SMARTmini AUX Bluetooth kit: Amazon $24.99
Install a Phone Mount
The stock head unit of the Alto K10 doesn’t come with any screen. A good smartphone can fill the void to some extent. What you need is a good dashboard mount for the phone. This is a great product from the iOttie stable which actually stays rooted to the dashboard - solid as a rock! The phone mount has a firm grip on the phone and the phone can be turned at any angle. Unlike most, I prefer fixing the phone in a horizontal position. iOttie Easy Flex 2 dashboard mount: Amazon
Get an Android Phone
My smartphone Moto G Plus 4 is central to the smart car experience. The single device that handles calls, messaging, music, GPS navigation while driving. I recommend getting an Android phone as an iPhone doesn’t work without a compatible head unit. That is one of the reasons why I didn’t get an iPhone. Moto G Plus 4: Amazon
Install Android Auto and Trigger
- Android Auto is truly a smart innovation from Google which has been so long restricted to head units only, until this month when it became available for phones too. Android Auto, designed with safety in mind, keeps the interface simple and minimizes distractions. It will even read out WhatsApp messages and let me reply by voice. The Google Maps, which is well integrated into the Android Auto, is my guide while navigating through the city.
- The android app Trigger automates my phone. As soon as my phone connects to my car Bluetooth, three things happen: the WiFi is disabled, volume is maxed, auto-rotation of display is enabled, GPS is turned on. Out of all this, automating the screen rotation is vital to my handsfree experience as I like my phone set horizontally on the dashboard. When I leave the car and the Bluetooth connection dies, auto-rotation is disabled but WiFi isn’t turned back on - I have set it like that.
Buy A Car Charger
The car charger of cheap make that the Maruti dealer had sold me (for ₹450) charged phones really slow and was an eyesore, as it came with an array of useless cables each ending in different types of pins. I was glad to get rid of it when it stopped working in less than a year and I had to make do without a car charger as I found nothing worth buying, until Amazon India started selling Aukey products. There were faster chargers available from Aukey but I settled for this particular model as it has a really small footprint, yet packs two USB ports each delivering 5 V 2.4 A current. The extra port can be handy if you you are travelling with friends. The tiny black charger goes well with the black interior of my car and is in keeping with my minimalistic approach - no more unsightly cables! I have paired it with a black USB cable that came with my phone. I had purchased it for ₹595 at the time of writing this post. Aukey 4.8A Flush-fit Dual Port Car Charger: Amazon ₹799
Install Keyless Entry
While the car came with factory-installed manual central locking, I installed Xenos Rottweiler remote locking system in the aftermarket for added convenience and peace of mind. The first thing I did after installation was disable the reverse siren which I never liked. I had to go the non-MGA route only because the dealer who sold me the car failed to keep the MGA Keyless Entry in stock despite prior reminders over phone. The Xenos is a fine product with no problems so far but looking back, I would have installed the MGA remote lock instead if I could go back in time. Not only it has a better alarm sound, but also because its flip key shell is easily available online. Xenos Rottweiler remote locking system: Amazon
Install Reverse Parking Sensors with Camera
Although I was reluctant to get a reverse parking camera, opting for it on my father’s insistence, I must say it is a good thing to have while parking in a busy area. One of the coolest gadgets in my car, it kicks off as soon as the gear is changed to reverse. The camera view comes alive in a TFT screen integrated in the IRVM which also shows the distance in feet from the nearest obstacle in real time. A speaker installed in the rear lets out a voice warning alerts me if there is any obstacle in the rear. A product from the Indian brand P8, it has worked reliably without any hiccups so far. Incidentally, the IRVM of the kit is actually anti-glare which has been a huge benefit as I am not blinded by the high beams from cars esp. trucks following me. P8 Reverse Parking Sensors with Camera: Amazon