MARUTI SUZUKI WAGON R

Tall Boy shots have been fired, and this time it's not a pis­tol but a dou­ble-bar­rel shot­gun!

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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. ⌧

(@ab­hibhi)

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

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