The practical, tall-boy hatchback from the stable of Maruti Suzuki, is now available in an all-new avatar. A third-generation model, this offering has incorporated a lot of upgrades and improvements over the outgoing car in terms of space, features, performance, and even practicality. It is now also available across a wide price range starting at Rs. 4.19 lakh and going to about Rs. 5.69 lakh.
2019 Maruti Suzuki WagonR
The one you are going to find in the Indian market now is not to be seen anywhere else in the world. There are other Wagon Rs, like the one sold in Japan, but for India, the automaker has engineered and built a car that is tailored specifically to cater to our regulations, conditions and customer needs.
Like most of its sister cars, including the Swift, Baleno, Ignis, and Ciaz, the new Wagon R is also based on Suzuki’s latest Heart platform, as opposed to the old Wagon Rs which were built on the smaller A platform that underpins Suzuki’s line of ‘kei’ compact hatchbacks for Japan. This new platform promises a number of benefits such as improved performance in crash tests, a lighter kerb weight, better dynamics, and an even roomier cabin.
The old Wagon R’s 68hp, 1.0litre 3-cylinder K10 unit has been carried over, albeit with some tweaks, to ensure more fuel economy, with the ARAI claimed figure being 22.5kmpl. It is even more interesting to note that for the first time ever, the Wagon R is also available with Suzuki’s larger 1.2litre, four-cylinder K12 engine.
According to Maruti insiders, the option of the 83hp engine has been made available to cater to Wagon R loyalists who felt the car was in need of more zing. Of course, the fuel economy has not been sidelined on the 1.2 either; in fact, its ARAI-tested 21.5kmpl is amongst the best that you can get in this segment. Both engines come with the 5-speed manual and AMT gearboxes.
With the pricing of the LXi trim of the WagonR 1.0 starting at Rs. 4.19 lakh, and that of Wagon R 1.2’s VXi trim starting at Rs. 4.89 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it is to be noted that the price difference between the same trim of both engine versions stand at Rs. 20,000 only.
In terms of its exterior, the third-gen WagonR retains the tall-boy proportions of its predecessors but also looks more like a substantial car, which it also is. Talking about dimensions, the new Wagon R is 56mm longer, 125mm wider, and 35mm longer in its wheelbase too, as compared to the outgoing model.
With regard to weight, the new Wagon R is 65kg lighter than its predecessor. One can hardly deny that the third-gen Wagon R exudes a more stylish look, thanks to the bulkier and more rounded-off nose, the ‘arrow’ shaped headlights and the sporty chin, neatly sculpted shoulder line, well-defined wheel arches, and so on.
Even the glass house is clearly ‘in-set’ from the base of the car. It flaunts a ‘floating roof’ look owing to the black plaque that runs from the C-Pillar to the tailgate. Even the big Honda CR-V tail-lights work well.
The lift-type door handles are nothing to be proud of, though they are not quite unacceptable in a car of this class either. Alloy wheels to are available only as an accessory, and a close look at it will reveal that the wheel wells are devoid of the cladding. The bonnet shut line is not the tightest either but Maruti affirms that it has been deliberately done to minimize the risks of the upper portion of the plastic grille being damaged if the bonnet is slammed shut.
Coming to the interior, ingress-egress is very convenient on the Wagon R and you get a great view out of the cabin too. The first impression will undoubtedly be positive, as the cabin now wears a better-appointed look.
The two-tone black-and-beige theme pleases the eyes, and you will be also delighted by the new instrument cluster that, on higher variants, features an integrated digital tachometer.
The quality quotient is further given a boost by the presence of the Ignis’ steering wheel. Yes, the soft-touch bits are missing, but the top of the dash is nicely textured and the door pads with improved finishing overall lend it a premium feel. That being said, the design of the dash is a bit disappointing. It is disproportionate, the fascia is slab-like and even the centre console is placed at a jaunty angle, which further adds to the visual dissonance.
Also, the odd-looking vents and plenty of bits carried over, such as the window-winder buttons are a bit of a letdown. Besides, the new front seats, though larger, are quite flat and featureless. The fixed front headrests confine frontal visibility for rear seat occupants, which again is a minus point.
However, the cabin is now much wider, which works in favour of this model. The driver and the passenger do not have to sit shoulder-to-shoulder as in older Wagon Rs and thanks to the more spacious cabin, it can comfortably accommodate three occupants, which previously wasn’t that easy on the bench-like rear seat.
The legroom and headroom are no more generous than before. On the other hand, Maruti has let down its customers by giving a miss to adjustable rear headrests. What’s worse, the fixed rear headrests are not big enough for adults of average height and are also angled in a way that they poke into an occupant’s upper back.
One of the primary strengths of the Wagon R has always been practicality, and the new model more than lives up to it. Boot space has doubled to 341 litres, and the long, wide and deep boot can accommodate plenty of luggage. Except on the base variant, you can enjoy the seats splitting 60:40 for even greater practicality.
The cabin also promises a larger glovebox, sizeable door pockets up front and useable pockets on the rear doors. However, the little cubby hole above the gear lever will hardly serve any practical purpose, owing to its small size, and the absence of a rubberised mat, which makes your odds and ends slide around. Also, given your smart-phone is so integral to the entertainment suite, the absence of a dedicated slot to place your mobile is sure to bother prospective buyers.
The new Wagon R is amongst the first models to feature Maruti’s new SmartPlay Studio infotainment system. At 7.0 inches, the screen of the new unit is no larger than the older Smart Play’s system but usability is much improved, with better touch responses and larger ‘tabs’ for frequently accessed functions.
The package also encompasses Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a paired device’s internet can also be used to stream online music, access news and get weather updates. The audio system can also be controlled wirelessly via a smartphone app.
Other firsts on the revamped Wagon R include, steering-mounted buttons for the infotainment system, a driver’s side airbag (dual airbags on top-spec variants), rear parking sensors and anti-lock brakes being standard across the range, in line with upcoming safety fitments.
Customers have already experienced the 83hp, 1.2litre engine on the Ignis, Baleno, Swift and Dzire, and know it to be a peppy and refined unit. However, the engine boasts of a newly added performance-centric dimension to the lightweight WagonR. Compared to the modest responses of the old Wagon R’s 1.0 engine, the new Wagon R’s 1.2 feels more agile and light on its feet at all times. It effortlessly picks up the pace and ensures an extremely pleasant drive.
One can actually feel the added pulling power and even when driving in a higher gear for a given speed, the Wagon R does not feel lifeless. On the contrary, it offers a newfound sportiness that is sure to catch the fancy of automobile enthusiasts. The engine feels smooth when revved, and as you go up the power band, the performance only gets stronger.
The old 1.0 model did 20-80kph in 15.69 seconds, while the same feat is achieved by the new 1.2litre model is just 12.67 seconds. 40-100kph in fourth gear is also quicker, at 18.38seconds, as compared to the old 1.0’s leisurely 23.56 seconds.
In fact, with regard to the timings, the Wagon R can be called significantly quicker than the Hyundai Santro, Datsun Go, Tata Tiago, and even Maruti’s own Celerio. A full-bore acceleration run revealed that the new Wagon R’s 11.98 seconds time is nearly 5.0 seconds down on the old car’s time. If you use all the revs in the lower gears, tiny front wheels are whipped into a frenzy. Once the wheels grip, the Wagon R shoots forward with immense zeal and spunk.
However, when you visit the top end of the power band, between 5000-6000rpm, the WagonR does get noisy. It is quite evident that this car does not guarantee much of sound insulation. And come to think of it, the additional performance feels like a bit of an overkill, as the new Wagon R often seems to get overwhelmed by all the power. The manual gearbox could also have been better. Though it is mostly light and easy, occasionally you also need that second push to slot gears in.
Urban buyers will be fascinated by the AMT automatic version. The 5-speed AMT still lacks the smoothness of a torque converter but the head nod AMTs are notorious for is largely restricted to shifts between first and second gears. The higher gears ensure things being smoothened out, and the responsiveness of the gearbox to manual inputs is also quite impressive.
The Tiptronic function is quite slick and comes handy when you want to take charge or when you want to maximize engine braking on a descent. It is also important to note that the driver will need to make prudent use of the handbrake on hill starts.
The car tends to roll back before the gearbox ‘engages’. In terms of performance, preliminary tests by industry experts have shown a big jump over the Wagon R 1.0 AMT. 0-100kmph is reached in 13.28 seconds (vs the old car’s 17.23 seconds), 20-80kmph takes 8.22 seconds (vs 10.89seconds) while 40-100kmph comes up in 9.58 seconds (vs 12.70 seconds).
On its wider track and stiffer Heart floorplan, the stability of the remodelled version in a straight line has improved. However, the Wagon R is still not responsive enough to direction changes at high speeds and the bluff shape and light weight also make it susceptible to moving about in strong gusts of wind. In fact, when you are at high speed, the steering, being light, and lifeless, will hardly do anything to enhance your confidence.
The Wagon R, to sum it up, is best as a city car, ensuring decent ride quality, suspension working more silently, tackling large bumps without the car being tossed around, and so on. even cabin insulation is marginally better. However, the light build leads to a fair amount of road and suspension noise still filtering in.
Should You Go For it?
It remains an undeniable fact that the new Wagon R has a lot to offer as a complete package- larger cabin, more powerful engine, better-equipped and better-built, and is also fairly priced.
That being said, keep in mind that if you enjoy driving, this is not the perfect pick for you, and its appliance-like character would not appeal to enthusiasts either. What the Wagon R does is retain its original formula of an incredibly functional budget car. It scores high points simply on account of its spaciousness and sheer practicality.
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