We drove the all-new 2019 Maruti WagonR in Udaipur yesterday and came back mighty impressed. This all-new model has been developed from the ground up and bears hardly any resemblance with the older WagonR. How good is this original tall boy hatchback? Well, you can either hit the play button below or continue to read this article!
New WagonR: How does it look?
This next generation model is based on an all-new platform. Maruti calls it the 5th generation HEARTEC platform and this uses upto 40% high tensile steel, up from about 15% on the older model. This means, while the platform is lighter, its stronger too. This is the same platform that is used by other Maruti models like the Ignis. In terms of dimensions, the new WagonR has grown up too, being about 145mm wider with a 35mm longer wheelbase. This definitely gives it better street cred in the process.
There is not much of a resemblance with the outgoing version when it comes to the design and styling. This new model looks mature, like a grown up hatchback and the styling too will please a wider audience. Up front, you get split headlamps that have a wrap around effect thanks to the fender body panel. The dual tone bumper with a black lower part looks nice and the ZXI seen here also gets a horizontal chrome lining and fog lamps that are housed in matt black cladding. Side profile showcases the extended length as well as the floating type roof that was first seen on the new Ertiga a few months back. The outside mirrors also get housing for the indicators but Maruti has left out alloy wheels on the top spec WagonR. This was being offered on the older version. That said, the side profile looks so much better now and things are interesting as you move towards the rear of the car.
We love the new vertical tail lamps and the extra width of the car. The bumper gets a matt black cladding at the lower part and how could Maruti leave out the chrome treatment in here? There is a proper chrome appliqué above the number plate in the new WagonR. All in all, Maruti has got it right when it comes to giving this a neutral design theme and this will attract a larger set of audience. Consumers will also get to opt for official exterior accessories including alloy wheels and matt black cladding all around – see the image below for reference. In terms of color options, you can six different shades including the ‘Poolside Blue’ seen here.
New WagonR: How are the interiors?
Getting inside the WagonR was always an easy task and the new one is no different. Thanks to the extended dimensions, space on the inside has only improved and this means the WagonR is the most spacious hatchback at this price point. You sit upright and visibility remains a USP – this will be a boon for the fair sex as well as those who are short in terms of height. The steering too is adjustable (the Santro does not offer this) and getting into a commanding position is easy. The front seats offer good support and are comfortable though the under thigh support could have been better. Also, these do not get adjustable headrests.
The new WagonR gets a dual tone theme on the inside with black treatment for the upper part and lighter colors for the lower fascia. The design too is nice though quality of materials is still not a match for the Santro. That said, ergonomics are perfect with a slightly higher placed gear lever, high seating posture, wide footwell area and controls that are very accessible. You have a storage space under the air-con controls that is big enough for a fat wallet. Next is the big cup holder in front of the hand brake lever, more space under this lever, decent sized glovebox and large door pads. That said, no cup holder in front of the right side air-con vent on this new WagonR. Driver controls for all the mirrors, central locking and adjusting the outside mirrors is picked up from other (expensive) Maruti cars. Nice touch there!
The ZXI version gets a new 17.8 cm touchscreen interface that not only has outstanding audio quality for the price, but also has support for Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Maruti’s newly developed SmartPlay Studio set-up. The touchscreen also has a display for the average & instantaneous fuel economy along with the tank range – this will surely help owners improve their driving skills in terms of saving fuel on the move. Owners can also see the fuel economy achieved for the past 5 trips. The speedometer console also looks bling with the right side round LCD display showing tachometer, fuel level, time, gear, average & instantaneous fuel economy, tank range and odometers. The new WagonR’s steering wheel seems to have been picked up from the Ignis and gets a classy looking ‘V’ silver insert.
Getting into the back seats is a breeze thanks to doors that open almost 90 degrees. This will be preferred by the elderly and kids alike. Both knee space and legroom have improved and visibility remains excellent. That said, the new WagonR does not get rear vents like the Santro – neither does it get a rear cup holder, arm-rest or a charging outlet. Another highlight is the boot space that has gone upto 341 lites now! That as much as some of the premium hatchbacks out there. The larger boot will be preferred by those who opt for a CNG kit at a later stage.
New WagonR: How does it drive?
The new WagonR is about 65 kgs lighter and yet has gained momentum in the form of an optional 1.2-litre K12 motor that we also see in the Ignis, Baleno, Dzire and the Swift. This move came after Hyundai launched the Santro with a 1.1-litre four cylinder unit with class leading NVH levels. Maruti knows its customer in and out and decided to offer the new WagonR with the larger motor in the higher versions. In terms of numbers, the WagonR’s 1.2 engine has a displacement advantage of 10% over the Santro’s engine while delivering 20% more power and 14% higher torque. And yet, as expected, it is more efficient than the Santro’s 1.1 engine with a certified economy of 21.5 kmpl. The smaller 1.0 unit offers 22.5 kmpl as per ARAI.
I got a chance to sample both the AGS and the MT variants of the 1.2 engine. The AGS first : the larger motor negates the shortcomings of an automated manual transmission to an extent. Make no mistake, there is a lag during gear shifts but thanks to the terrific power to weight ratio, the WagonR 1.2 AGS is always more than eager to move forward. The creep function too works brilliantly and driving the AGS in bumper to bumper traffic is a stress free affair. The manual version on the other hand is a delight to drive – even with a full load of passengers, this tall boy never seems to run out of breath. The gear shift ‘feel’ is nearly as good as that of the Santro and that’s saying a lot!
The NVH or noise vibration harshness levels could have been better though. I also have an Ignis AMT back home and the difference is very much apparent (both the cars make use of the same platform). The four cylinder engine does feel a lot more smoother than the 3 cylinder 1.0 unit but still, the cabin does not remain as silent as say the Santro. That said, the amount of torque on offer at lower revs is remarkable and you can pilot the WagonR 1.2 in slow moving traffic in a higher gear. 30 km/h in 4th is not a problem and even picking up speeds with a hint of accelerator inputs makes the WagonR move ahead with enthusiasm. This in turn also helps improve the fuel economy and we managed an easy 16-17kmpl as per the display during our Udaipur runs. Outright acceleration is terrific and the engine spins freely all the way to redline which stands at just above 6000rpm. It does sound good in the process, as shown in the video above at 10:55 minute onwards.
We did not get to drive the smaller 1.0 engine equipped WagonR but given the lower weight, are sure that overall performance will be better. That said, it will retain the typical 3 cylinder vibrations and the gear shift quality too will not be a match. Interestingly, Maruti is offering the automatic (AGS) with both the engine options.
New WagonR: And the ride & handling?
The WagonR was always known to offer an easy drive and the new one is no different. Keeping a typical buyer profile in mind, the new WagonR goes about doing its duties, that of a city runabout, in a fuss free manner. We stuck largely to Udaipur’s city roads and this is where the light steering and excellent visibility play a key role. Even short drivers will love the large glass area that gives you a good view of what’s happening around. The steering, though not feather light, will be appreciated by most drivers.
At city speeds, the suspension feels a lot better than the outgoing version. However, we encountered a fair amount of undulations and broken patches around the perimeter of the Fateh Sagar lake and this is where the WagonR showed its tendency to move around more than we expected. The same issue remains as you keep going faster. You need to give constant inputs to the electric power steering too and the Santro in this regard fares much better. Don’t get us wrong, in daily usage, this new tall boy will not give you a reason to complain but as a new generation model, I had higher hopes in terms of dynamics.
The brakes though work well and can haul this from triple digit speeds easily. In terms of road and wind noise, insulation is average and not in the league of again, the Santro. As speeds rise, noise does filter into the cabin more than we would have expected. All said and done though, for a city buyer, the new WagonR will show its improvements easily.
New WagonR: Is it feature loaded?
The new WagonR is offered in three main variants of LXI, VXI and ZXI. The smaller 1.0 unit is only offered in the LXI and VXI trims while the larger 1.2 unit is offered in the VXI and ZXI trims. Now while the base / entry level LXI is more expensive than the base Santro version, it does offer you decent kit. This includes a driver side Airbag, ABS, rear parking sensors and central locking. Other features include front power windows, air-con with heater, power steering and dual tone interiors.
The top spec ZXI on the other hand is fully loaded with an advanced 17.8cm touch screen interface, all four power windows, rear wash/wiper, tachometer, rear defogger, voice controls, front fog lamps, electrically foldable outside mirrors etc. At the same time though, it misses out on rear vents which are present in the Santro.
New WagonR: Our verdict
The new WagonR will cater to a wider audience. The lower priced 1.0 versions are great in terms of value for money and even shelling out Rs 25-30k (on-road price) for the more powerful 1.2 engine makes so much sense. It has the extra punch without burning a hole in your pocket and offers a smoother drive. The WagonR is priced slightly above the Santro (read this article) but does offer extra kit too. In terms of the AGS, we recommend opting for the more power 1.2 unit.
If I look at the WagonR across all important parameters, it scores higher marks. Dynamics aren’t the best around but that apart, as an entry level mid-size hatchback, you simply cannot ignore the sheer space on offer. It remains easy to drive and the better equipment (save for the rear vents) will also keep buyers happy. A CNG version? Give Maruti a few months time and we are sure that will be out too!