Even after two decades of its launch, the Omni still sells in the Indian market without much facelift or change in mechanical aspects. It is the cost and the space, which has been selling this van. The cost per kilometre, including spares, maintenance and the cost of the car, is what has retained the car in the market.
The Omni uses Maruti 800's four-stroke, 796cc engine, which transfers power to the rear wheels through 4-speed manual transmission. Initially, it was accepted as an economic passenger van; later it was launched again in cargo version. Both the variants run on 12-inch wheels, which are suitable mainly for city drive.
The new Omni has some better refinements; the headlamps and the bumper have been revamped, leaving the front with a different look. The side panel also received some sleek graphics but the interiors take the major share of improvements.
The dash has been redone with slightly better plastic, and houses cup holders and lockable glove box. The Omni also comes equipped with a redesigned steering wheel, booster-assisted front disc brakes, dual toned upholsteries and cushion on its inner wall. It is a lone player in the segment and comes in five colours viz. Caribbean Blue, Icy Blue, Bright Red, Silky Silver and Superior White. It is available in five variants - LPG Cargo BS III, MPI Ambulance BS IV, LPG STD BS III, MPI STD BS IV and E MPI STD BS IV. Metallic versions including BS IV Complaints are also available.
Power comes standard from the 800 cc MPFi engine with two valves-per-cylinder. The Multi-Point Fuel Injection system optimizes fuel efficiency. It's the same engine used by the Maruti 800, turned by 90 degrees to fit longitudinally.
This MPFi engine shells out 35 bhp and transfers it to the rear wheels through the 4-speed manual transmission. The Omni gets an LPG option too. It's neither a sprinter on the highway nor quick at passing on city ring roads. It is value for money and is capable enough to carry passengers or 450 kilograms of cargo.
Though the engine is reasonably smooth at any rev range, but not the transmission as you expect in a high-end car. A beginner would need some getting used to, but for those who consider this as a basic necessity, it is happy-go-lucky car.
Rolling out from the factory whose major concern is the middle class user, the Omni is the most fuel-efficient wagon in India. It makes 12/17 kmpl in city/highway.
The box type van looked pretty during the days when it was launched, but now it is outdated. The design lacks aerodynamic characters but works well in city drives, which is its main focus. As it is easy to build for the manufacturers, it is equally easy to get in and out for the users. The van gets a sliding door for easy entry and exit for passengers of any size. It is a no-problem van in tight parking lots. The small wheelbase and minimized turning radius make it a best choice for city users. With some creases on the side sills and door panel, it is a simple design that has survived for years.
The Omni interiors get all-new dashboard with add-ons like cup holders and slightly upscale plastic than the previous one. The all-new steering is better off than its predecessor. Seating still remains basic, with some changes like dual toned upholsteries. The driver and the front passenger seats get headrest, second row has straight back rest with minimal cushioning and the third row is inclined in the 8-seater. In the 5-seater, the second row faces the front and gets ample legroom and cargo space. The 5-seater Omni gets an optional LPG kit fitted from the factory. It delivers 27 bhp @ 4500 rpm.
In business section, the Maruti Omni has three variants: the ambulance, cargo and cargo LPG. The ambulance comes with factory-fitted amenities like box-type stretcher stand-cum-seat, rear seat with backrest that seats two persons, 12-volt plug point for operating a suction machine, ECG machine, stand for oxygen cylinder and saline bottle, flasher light and siren, folding stretcher and medicine box.
The cargo variant comes with a metal grille partition between the cargo area and the driver's seat, welded rear side windows and left sliding door for easy side loading option.