After twenty years and 2.2 million units sold, Maruti Suzuki is here with the latest iteration of the Wagon R. And unlike the rest of the world, we get a different version of it. Based on the Heartect platform, like the Baleno, Ignis, Swift, Dzire and the recently launched Ertiga, the third- gen Wagon R has gotten bigger, wider and longer. But that’s not all. Maruti Suzuki is now offering two engine options – the three-pot, 1-litre petrol from the Celerio and the 1.2-litre, four-pot from the Swift. With so much going for it, the Wagon R means business. Should the Kwid, Redi-Go, Santro, Celerio and even the Tiago be worried?
Another value addition to Maruti Suzuki’s 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 engine options. The 998cc, K10B, 3-cylinder petrol makes 67bhp and 90NM, while the more powerful K12M with its 1197cc motor churns out a healthy 82bhp and 113Nm. The 1-litre K10B goes up against the likes of the Datsun Redi-Go and Reanult Kwid 1-litre, while the 1.2-litre K12M takes the fight to the class-leading (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 car. 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 adjustable head restraints, though, and while we’re on the topic, the touchscreen is unfortunately not as responsive as I’d have liked. However, the inbuilt-navigation system it runs is really detailed and works well.
“The wheel arches are muscular and the doors come with rounded edges. The C-pillar is massive while the blackened B-pillar gives it a floating roof element”
Moving on to looks, the Wagon R gets a lot more rounded elements all over. The massive split headlamps flank the curvy bonnet while the grille gets a tiny garnish of chrome. The wheel arches are muscular 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.
“Like all K-Series engines, it’s very rev-happy and loves to be taken to the limit. However, once past the 100kmph, the Wagon R seems to struggle, courtesy its not-so-aerodynamic body”
Our short drive took us through the tiny streets of Udaipur and then on to the highways to Jaipur. We sampled, and were equally impressed, by both the 5-speed manual and 5-speed auto variants of the 1.2-litre engine (the 1-litre was not available). They both felt responsive with apparent grunt, and thanks to the lightweight platform (835-845kg), even led to some inadvertent wheel-spin in the first gear. There is no lack of power as long as you’re in 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 the 100kmph mark, 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.
Also, the ride quality is superb! Gone is the independent rear suspension, replaced by a torsion beam that makes it a lot more supple. Bumpy roads hardly deter the tall boy and it feels extremely 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.
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 Rs 4.19 lakh, is still about Rs 30,000 costlier than the Santro, but the large list of variants keeps it right there in the mix.
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.