The Wagon R was originally launched by Maruti Suzuki way back in December 1999. It was launched by the manufacturer to compete against the Hyundai Santro which was fast gaining popularity among buyers. In the initial few years, the Wagon R wasn’t exactly a popular choice among buyers owing to boxy and bland design. In 2006, its looks were enhanced so that it would match up to its more contemporary looking competitors. Its Duo variant was also launched which featured a factory fitted LPG kit along with the regular petrol engine to attract buyers with the promise of low running costs.
Design and Features
Along with a cosmetically enhanced exterior, the Wagon R also received spruced up interiors in 2006. Though the tall boy design was retained, its front look became more digestible owing to the wide air dam, wraparound bumper massive grille and larger clear lens headlamps. At the rear end it received a re-designed tailgate and better looking tail lamps. Apart from the above mentioned changes to the front and rear fascia, the rest of the design has been carried over from the original model. On the inside, it got new instrumentation and a noticeable improvement in the quality of plastics used in the cabin.
The petrol powered Wagon R variant is offered to buyers in LX, LXi, VXi and AX models. The base LX model gets only air conditioning while the LXi model offers body colored bumpers, power steering and front power windows as standard. The top VXi model comes fully loaded with all the above features along with central locking, alloy wheels, tachometer, rear defogger and rear windscreen wash/wiper. The AX model offers all the features found on the VXi model but is offered to buyers a with 3-speed automatic transmission. The LPG Duo variant is offered in LX and LXi models which offer the same level of features as seen on the regular petrol powered LX and LXi models.
Driving abilities and Comfort
There have been no changes to the Wagon R since the time it was launched with respect to its chassis and suspension design. The tall boy design and high center of gravity doesn’t affect its driving dynamics in any positive way either. Within city limits, the car feels completely at home and is to flick through traffic. On the highway, at moderate or high speeds the car is well planted and doesn’t get unsettled by any sudden changes in the road surface. This car clearly doesn’t have any affinity for winding roads.
The Wagon R gets McPherson Struts with roll control device at the front and gas filled coil spring shock absorbers at the rear. At low speeds the ride quality is quite admirable for a car of this size and weight irrespective of the road surface. The rear suspension setup does a good job at soaking up every undulation on the road without bringing it to the notice of the passengers. At high speeds the ride quality worsens a bit though owing to the narrow track. The steering is very light which is a boon at low speeds but at high speeds doesn’t offer much communication or feedback to the driver.
The Wagon R gets powered by a 1.1 liter four cylinder petrol engine which develops a maximum power of 64PS at 6200 rpm and a maximum torque of 84Nm at 3500rpm. On the Duo variant in LPG mode, the engine produces a maximum power of 57.5PS at 6000rpm and a maximum torque of 77Nm at 4500rpm. During our acceleration runs, the car took 17 seconds to reach 100kmph from standstill in petrol mode. In LPG mode the same run took 20 seconds to achieve. Adopting a pedal to the metal attitude will help the car in attaining an indicated top speed of 150 kmph on the speedometer. The engine delivers an overall fuel efficiency figure is 13 kilometers to a liter. The 5-speed manual transmission is very coarse and lacks a smooth feel during gear changes.
With a price bracket of Rs. 3.7 lakhs to 4.2 lakhs (on-road Mumbai), the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R competes against the likes of Hyundai’s Santro Xing, Chevrolet’s Spark and TATA’s Indica. Sporting a Maruti Suzuki badge, the Wagon R still boasts of high reliability, refurbished interiors and exteriors, low maintenance and running costs, good mileage which makes it a formidable competitor for all the other city roundabouts. On the negative side, it can seat only four, won’t fare well in protecting its occupants in an accident and clearly belongs to the previous generation of hatchbacks.