All-new Maruti Suzuki WagonR road test

We road test the all-new Maruti Suzuki WagonR.

maruti suzuki wagonr road test photo
Photo: New WagonR is bigger, better

The new Maruti WagonR is not a facelift or a minor improvement to the trusted old workhorse. This is an all new car, internally and externally. It has always been one of the mainstays of Maruti Suzuki in India – and so we were quite curious about the new kid on the old block.

If you are not in the mood to go through the full road test, scroll all the way down for the photo gallery / slideshow and technical specs of the new WagonR.

Let us get our history in place, first. The Wagon R comprises the best-seller in its class, and makes up 14 % of all Maruti cars sold in India. That is huge. And the car was doing well too – but end-2009 and 2010 saw an onslaught by many new small cars and that made Maruti rethink and develop the all- new Wagon R.

old wagonr and the new one side by side photo
Photo: The new WagonR and the old

Design: Exterior

The Suzuki WagonR is the original tall boy. And the new WagonR is now taller than its predecessor. This car is wider, taller and longer –  you don’t need to check the specs; one look at the car and it’s evident.-

The new Wagon R now looks bolder and smarter, more grown up. The front has swept back headlamps with a blue insert which glows as the parking lings and this is why the new Wagon R is nick named The Blue Eyed Boy.

Everything here looks bigger. Front bumpers now nicely blend into side fenders and headlamps. The grille is clearly bolder, and the Suzuki ‘S’ monogram also gets bigger. Fog lamps are standard on the VXi variant that we drove. Below the bumper, the black grille stretches  from end to end, making the car look wider.

Chrome lining (something we Indians love) above the grille adds a touch of bling to the front. The nose of the all-new WagonR is much longer now, when viewed from the side.

new wagonr front photo
Photo: The front of the new WagonR is clearly smarter

The side profile of the new WagonR, though larger, still reminds you of the earlier WagonR to some extent. The roof line is higher at the back, and slopes down towards the front.

Roof trails are standard on the WagonR VXi helping in making the car look still taller. The glass house is XXL, with large windows, quarter glass and the wind shield front and rear offer very good visibility while driving. It also helps in making the cabin look bright.

The tail now gets very large lamps that start upwards from the bumper and end where the rear glass starts. A nice thick chrome strip with WAGONR written on it takes centre stage on the boot lid. The rear bumper too now is much larger blending with the overall new proportions of the car. Overall the Wagon R from the outside now looks much more nicer and grown up.

Design: Interior

new wagonr interior photo
Photo: The integrated music system in the new WagonR looks good, works well.

On the inside the new Wagon R has acres of head room – the tall boy has grown taller. The seats are wider and are made of better materials, which we noticed to some satisfaction during the road test.

Dashboard plastic is better than the earlier WagonR, but not as good as the Chevrolet Beat or the Ford Figo small cars. The dash has an all-new speedo console, which now has a LCD fuel and odometer and simple looking twin dials for the speedo, calibrated till 180kmph and the RPM dial till the 8k RPM mark. The speedo has a orange colored glow effect to it as though it is always  backlit. An empty dial on the right of the speedo spoils the party here.

The steering wheel is the three-spoke one similar to the one on the Suzuki A-Star. Fake-aluminium inserts find their way on the wheel and also on the dash. The dash also has push-type can holders: A nice addition, we must say. The centre console has a nice integrated MP3 stereo system, and Aux input is standard. Maruti Suzuki, off late, have been integrating music systems in many of their models. It is rather neatly done in the new Wagon R too its neatly done. The system tuned to all the FM radio stations and the MP3 playback was also reasonably satisfactory, when it played through the four speakers placed in four doors.

The air conditioner is manual and cooling was quick for the cabin, even in the hot Mumbai sun. The two AC vents on the end of the dash can be closed individually when not needed a la the Zen Estilo. The glovebox is now deeper and broader. The gear knob though not the best design to look at feels perfectly shaped when grasped.

As we said, the front seats are wide and comfortable while things at the rear seat too have benefited from the longer wheelbase. Maruti has increased the overall length of the new WagonR by 75 mm to 3,595 mm while they have increased the wheelbase by 40mm to 2,400 mm. The overall height now is 1700mm while the width of the car now is 1495 mm . The rear seat leg room benefits from this increase in dimensions vastly and gives you an instant feel of an mid-size segment car at the rear.

Doors open nearly at 90 degree angle, aiding entry and exit. The most unique thing in the cabin we found was the under seat storage bin on the front passenger seat. During the road test of the WagonR, we found this a very clever, and handy feature. This bin can be removed and taken with you.

Another unique feature is the rear floor panel that is nearly flat. The hump is missing and while testing the car, we found this added to the comfort list for the rear seat passengers. Head rests at rear are adjustable for height and the seats fold in a 60-40 split. Seat pockets are only behind the passenger seat and surprisingly missing behind the driver’s seat. Lumber and thigh support at the back is adequate if not the best in class. The leg room at the back eats up the boot space which now stands at 180 litres compared to the Chevrolet Beat at 170 litres and the Hyundai i10 at 225 litres. So the legroom has increased vastly, but at some expense to the boot capacity.

Over all the interior and the cabin now feels larger and better appointed as compared to the earlier Maruti Suzuki Wagon R.

New Suzuki WagonR road test: Engine and performance

new wagonr engine photo
Photo: Suzuki's K-Series engine powers the new WagonR.

The new Suzuki Wagon R uses the same BS-4 complaint three-cylinder petrol engine of the A-Star and the Zen Estilo. This 998 cc 3 cylinder K-series engine generates 67 bhp @ 6200 rpm and makes 90NM of torque @ 3500 rpm. On paper, this may look a tad inadequate for the grown-up Wagon R – so we put the car through the road test to find out how it actually drives the car.

Start the engine, and it is difficult to tell this is a 3 pot engine. The engine idles silently thanks to better NVH levels achieved by Maruti engineers.  The engine is rev-friendly and super smooth, as all Suzuki engines are. This little powerplant clearly spells out why Suzuki is regarded as the master of small car engines!

Step on the accelerator pedal and the response is quick, though not as quick as compared to the Ford Figo (which has a 4 cylinder engine). This engine is tuned for stop and go city driving conditions. Gear ratios are short for the first two gears while the next three gears are longish. Once you cross the second gear the car accelerates away cleanly without any fuss. This is a very rev-friendly engine as we mentioned earlier, and on open roads loves to be belted hard. Mid-range performance is delightful and is one of the best in this segment. Accelerate hard in all gears and you cross the 100kmph mark while still in third. The car corners quiet well considering its height, though you should not expect road hugging characteristics on twisty roads when flooring it.

The steering is light, and you may like its light feel – we prefer the steering with a bit of a heavy feedback like the ones on the Polo or the Figo.

The gear shift is not the best in the class but does its duty efficiently. Suspension set up is McPherson strut with coil springs in the front and isolated trailing link with coil springs at the rear. That may sound like gobbledygook to the average WagonR buyer, but in the real world, the setup feels and works very nice and different to the earlier Wagon R. The increased tyre size also helps in the handling department. The Wagon R now drives on 155/65 14 inche tyres which is a very welcome addition. The best thing to happen to the new WagonR is the improved drive feel at high speeds. Where the old WagonR used to jerk and sway on the highways at speed, the new WagonR behaves very sanely and steady at high speeds thanks to the increased wheelbase and overall dynamics.

The WagonR VXi has an option of ABS and it sure helps to have it on the car. Front discs and rear drums are adequate and felt safer with the ABS kicking in when we attempted to simulate some panic braking on loose surfaces. The option pack includes front airbags too – way to go! (We are all for airbags everywhere, as you would know if you have been reading us for a while!)

New Maruti WagonR road test: Mileage / fuel efficiency

Maruti cars are known for their outstanding mileage figures and the new WagonR too impressed us with figures of 18 kmpl driving sedately. The worst mileage figure we could drop to was 15.5kmpl in stop-and-go traffic conditions.

Verdict:

WagonR has always ruled its segment – and with the new revamp, Maruti Suzuki has a chance at regaining its top against some strong rivals such as the Chevrolet Beat, Ford Figo, Fiat Punto and Volkswagen Polo. If you have always wanted a WagonR, and the new WagonR is a dead easy decision for you! If not, get a test drive and find out for yourself. Sure the other new small cars have some serious advantages, but you may like the wholesomeness of the new WagonR. Good resale value, the best After Sales network in the country are great add-ons too. It is much stronger and meaner, and the competition better watch out because the king is on the prowl.

Price:

Priced at Rs. 3.28 lakhs (Ex-Showroom) for the base LXi and Rs.3.81lakhs (Ex-Showroom) for the top end VXi, the new Wagon R really feels like an tempting buy in this class.

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Specifications

Ex-showroom Price    Rs 3.81 lakh (VXi ex-showroom, Mumbai)

ENGINE
Fuel    Petrol
Type    3-cyl, in-line, 998cc (K-Series)
Installation    Front, transverse, front-wheel drive
Bore/stroke    73/79.5mm
Power    67bhp at 6200rpm
Torque    9.17kgm at 3500rpm
Power to weight    77.90bhp per tonne

Transmission
Type    Manual
Gearbox    5-speed

Chassis Body
Length    3595mm
Width    1495mm
Height    1700mm
Wheel Base    2400mm
Boot Volume    180 litres
Ground Clearance    165mm
Weight    860 kg
Tyres    155/80 R14 tubeless
Spare    Full size

Steering
Type Power    Power steering
Type of power assist    Electronic power steering (EPS)

Brakes
Front    Ventilated discs
Rear    Drums

Economy
Overall    18.9 kpl (company claimed)
Tank size    35 litres

All-new Maruti Suzuki WagonR road test photo gallery / slideshow

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