MARUTI SUZUKI WAGON R
Tall Boy shots have been fired, and this time it's not a pistol but a double-barrel shotgun!
AFTER TWENTY YEARS AND 2.2 million units, Suzuki is back with the latest iteration of the Wagon R. And unlike the rest of the world, India will get a uniquely Indian version that is based on the Heartect platform underpinning the Baleno, Ignis, Swift, Dzire and the recently launched Ertiga. Quick comments? The third- gen Wagon R has gotten bigger, wider and longer. But that's not all, Maruti Suzuki is now offering two engine and transmission options. With so much going for it, the Wagon R means business. And without killing suspense I have to tell you the Kwid, Redi-Go, Santro, Celerio, even the Tiago should be worried.
What’s it about?
Another addition to Maruti Suzuki's portfolio of supersellers! The burgeoning A2 segment was recently hit by the Santro storm. Now it's Maruti's turn to strike back, and to kill quite a few birds with one stone, they are offering the Wagon R with not one but two engines. The 998cc K10B, 3-cylinder petrol from Celerio makes 67bhp and 90NM, while the more powerful 1197cc K12M motor from the Swift
Believe it or not, the Wagon R has a better power-toweight ratio than the Polo GT TSI!
churns out a healthy 82bhp and 113Nm. While the 1-litre K10B will take the fight to the likes of Datsun Redi-Go and Reanult Kwid 1-litre, the 1.2-litre K12M will slug it out with the classleading (when it comes to power) Tata Tiago.
The Heartect platform has been tweaked as well, keeping the Wagon R's ‘maximum space, maximum utility' credo in mind. The front track has been widened by 140mm, while the rear is wider too by 150mm. Similarly, the wheelbase has gone up by 35mm, as compared to the previous generation. The result is a cabin that's 120mm wider, both at the front and the rear, with front legroom increased by 20mm and the rear legroom longer by 10mm. All this makes the cabin a lot more spacious and airy. Even the dashboard is all new, with good quality panels. The cluster, which may remind you of the Ritz's rounded panels, looks contemporary and the centrally mounted touchscreen is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The steering wheel is nice to hold and comes with mounted controls. The ergonomics are spot on too, like most other Marutis. I'd have liked a more responsive touchscreen but the in-built navigation system it runs is really detailed and works well.
Moving on to styling, the Wagon R gets a lot more rounded elements. The massive split headlamps flank the curvy bonnet while the grille gets a tiny garnish of chrome. The wheel arches are sculpted and the doors come with rounded edges. The C-pillar is massive while the blackened B-pillar gives it a floating roof element. At the rear, is where it gets radical, with the taillights resembling the new Ertiga (or even the Mahindra E2O Plus), while the overall design looks very similar to, what else, the Ritz. Hate it or love it, you'll simply not be able to ignore its ‘tall boy' silhouette.
How’s it to drive?
Our short drive took us through the tiny streets of Udaipur and then on to the highway to Jaipur. We sampled, and were equally impressed, by both the 5-speed manual and
5-speed AMT variants of the 1.2-litre engine (the 1-litre was not available). Believe it or not, the Wagon R has a better power-to-weight ratio than the Polo GT TSI! With 98bhp/ tonne, she feels responsive and even gets you some wheel-spin in the first gear. There is no lack of power all through the rev range which extends up to a healthy 5500rpm. Like all K-Series engines, it's very rev-happy and loves to be taken to the limit. However, once past 100kmph, the Wagon R seems to struggle, courtesy its not-so-aerodynamic body. But until then, everything seems well under control. In fact, it's quick, to say the least. I can't wait to put it through some VBox tests.
Ride and handling hasn't been a talking point when it comes to Maruti Suzukis, but lately things have started going in the right direction. The ride quality is superb on the Wagon R! Bumpy roads hardly deter the tall boy and it feels very planted, almost like a European car at low speeds. That said, the handling is not something to write home about. It seems predictable but the tall-ish nature still lends it a lot of body roll, especially when you're pushing through a set of corners. Even the steering is lifeless and there's almost zero feedback, even at low speeds.
Should I get one?
As an overall package, the new Wagon R is stronger than ever. Additionally, with its option of two engines and drivetrains, it caters not only to family car buyers but also fleet owners, something that will surely bring customers to Maruti Suzuki showrooms by the dozen. It offers a big increment in space, comes loaded with features and has really commendable ride quality. The base LXi variant, priced at 4.19 lakh, is still about 30,000 costlier than the Santro, but the large list of variants keeps it right there in the mix. It still misses on the rear parking camera and the rear air-con vent, but it more than makes up with the lovely 1.2-litre engine. But the question is, would you really need so much power in a car that's ideally meant to take families from point A to point B? If I were to buy one, I'd probably look at the 1-litre ZXi auto.
Well then, all things considered, it all boils down to this – will the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R become the best-selling car in the country? Let's wait and watch. ⌧
Facing page, bottom: Dashboard is well laid out and feels premium. Above: Tacho is standard only on the ZXi variant; 5-speed auto has a high IQ unlike other boxes
Above: 1.2-litre motor gives it a power-to-weight ratio of 98bhp/tonne! Below: Funky rear-end may not appeal to everyone