Maruti Wagon R Expert Review

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Introduction

The WagonR has been a huge sales success for MSIL. The hatch is known for its accommodating proportions and the associated practicality. An absolute favourite of the masses, the WagonR dominates the segment like no other hatch in the country. Originally meant to take on the erstwhile Hyundai Santro, the WagonR has definitely come a long way; while maintaining it’s core USPs.  The design remains true to its kei car heritage. The present WagonR carries traits of it’s predecessor such as the large glasshouse, stubby nose and a tall height. It was also amongst the first cars to debut Maruti Suzuki’s three cylinder, K-Series engine as well. Amongst the most frugal engines of the lot, it is available in petrol and CNG fuel options. The WagonR screams pocket-friendly like no other hatch in its class.

Pros
  • Space. A spacious hatchback in the truest sense of the word.
  • Peppy petrol engine. Just the right amount of power for the city.
  • Optional Airbags and ABS across all trims.
  • Optional AMT ups the convenience quotient in an already easy to drive car.
Cons
  • Quality of materials used in the interior could've been better. Feels low rent.
  • NVH levels aren't the best. Lot of engine noise filters into the cabin.
  • Brakes feel spongy. Could have done with better pedal response.
  • No diesel motor. Tata Tiago gets a diesel engine in the same price range.

Stand Out Features

  • Optional AMT, makes city commutes even easier.

    Optional AMT, makes city commutes even easier.

  • Safety tech viz. airbags and ABS optional from base spec.

    Safety tech viz. airbags and ABS optional from base spec.

CarDekho Verdict

The Wagon R might not be the best looking or have all the bells and whistles, but it is a practical hatch in every sense of the word. It is spacious, fuel efficient and has Maruti Suzuki’s dependable after sales network to back it up.

"The WagonR gives importance to practicality over style, function over form."

If you are the practical kind and want sheer utility from your next hatchback, the WagonR fits the bill nicely. 

Background & Evolution

The WagonR dates back to as far as 1999 when it first debuted in the Indian market. It sported a peppy 1.0-litre motor, that went on to power other hatchbacks (like the Estilo) in the Maruti portfolio. Maruti updated the looks on a timely basis to make the WagonR keep up with the times. 

A mildly refreshed version hit showroom floors in 2006. The hatchback entered it’s third innings in the A1 hatchback segment in 2010, post which, it hasn't received any major cosmetic update. Recent updates to the WagonR include slightly reworked grille and bumpers, optional ABS & airbags across all trims and an optional AMT.

Exterior

The WagonR is based on a tall-boy design, which essentially means the car is narrow but tall. For instance, it is a full 100mm narrower than the Chevrolet Beat and the Hyundai i10. However, it is taller by 180mm and 150mm compared to the two. The boxy structure lets it liberate more space, especially headroom, inside the cabin. The wheels are pushed to the extremes to extract a 2400mm wheelbase which is second to only the Nissan Micra Active.

Exterior Comparison

Maruti Wagon R Tata Tiago Hyundai i10 Nissan Micra Active
Length (mm) 3599 3746 3585 3801
Width (mm) 1495 1647 1595 1665
Height (mm) 1700 1535 1550 1530
Ground Clearance (mm) 165 170 165 154
Wheel Base (mm) 2400 2400 2380 2450
Kerb Weight (kg) 890 1012 860 -
 

The front fascia is dominated by large headlamps that have a hue of blue. Due to this very trait, Maruti dubbed the WagonR - ‘The Blue Eyed Boy’. The large headlamps give the hatch a very docile face. The grille gets a thin strip of chrome at the top and a large insignia in the centre. The large three slat air dam sits below and is flanked by fog lamp enclosures on either side. 

Over to the side, the design is devoid of excessive creases or sharp lines like the Beat has. Two faint character lines run across the length of the car. Typical of a tall boy, the WagonR gets a sharply raked A-pillar and a large glass area. The slightly flared wheel arches and the roof rails add some flair to an otherwise boring looking side profile. While alloy wheels aren’t offered on any trim, they can be purchased as an optional accessory at the dealer level.  

The rear shows off the tall stance of the car quite well.

The rear profile does seem like an evolution of the previous generation of the WagonR, with the tail-lamps sporting a similar design. The large windscreen gets a wash-wipe function in the top-spec VXi trim, as is the norm in the segment. A thick strip of chrome houses the WagonR moniker. It also gets a high-mount stop lamp and  an additional low-mounted brake light as well. In a bid to increase cabin space, Maruti has sacrificed the boot-space, which stands at 180 litres. 

Boot Space Comparison

Maruti Wagon R Tata Tiago Hyundai i10 Nissan Micra Active
Volume 180-liters 242-litres 225-litres 251-litres
 

While the design isn’t as snazzy or out of the box like the Chevrolet Beat, the WagonR follows a philosophy of keeping things simple. The clean and neutral design of the WagonR might not be the best in terms of aesthetics but is definitely functional.

Interior

The large doors open nice and wide. Ingress and egress are definitely strong points with the WagonR. You tend to ‘walk inside’ the cabin of the car, not ‘sit down’ like you would in the Nissan Micra for example. The high seating gives you a commanding view.

The interiors are finished in a black and beige combo. To add a premium feel, the centre console, door handles and the steering wheel get brushed aluminium coloured accents. While the design of the dashboard is nothing to write home about, the quality has definitely gone up a notch compared to the previous generation. That said, we believe it still isn’t in the league of the Hyundai i10 whose quality continues to remain the benchmark in the segment.

Amongst the first things to grab your attention, is the orange accented instrument cluster. It is a three pod unit, consisting of a tachometer, a speedometer and a section for the tell-tale lights. It also gets a small LCD strip at the base of the speedo, that houses a digital fuel gauge and an odometer.

The centre console comprises of an integrated music system and manual controls for the air-conditioning. We really like the positioning of the dials and switches, they are easy to reach and operate. The audio system supports CD, USB & Radio and is paired with four speakers, the output of which is average at best. 

The front seats are reasonably supportive, even for people with a hefty build. Thanks to its 1700mm height, the WagonR scores really high on headroom both at the front and the rear bench. However, the driver will find himself brushing shoulders with his co-passenger due to the narrow dimensions. The steering wheel is large and has a grainy texture to it. It can be adjusted for rake (angle) which lets the driver find a comfortable driving position easily. 

At the rear, the headroom is clearly a cut above the others in the segment. However, the legroom is more or less on par. Thanks to  the narrow width, the WagonR is a four-seater at best. The lack of shoulder room at the rear will make the third passenger feel unwelcomed. Also, the backrest is relatively upright which may make long journeys tad uncomfortable.

Storage spaces have been incorporated neatly into the overall design of the interior.

There are a couple of gloveboxes and a few cubby holes around the centre console and the gear lever area. Our favourite, however, was the storage under the codriver's seat — a feature unique to the WagonR. While it is slightly shallow, it can be used to carry some grocery. 

The WagonR carries a minimalistic design on the inside as well. The key takeaways continue to remain the space and the practicality it offers. Slightly compromised shoulder room aside, the WagonR gets right everything that the segment demands.

Performance

The WagonR was one of the first cars from the MSIL stable to get the potent K-Series motor. The new motor not only complies with the updated emission norms but is also comparatively refined and rev-happy. The hatch harbours a 3 cylinder, 1.0-litre motor that develops 67PS of power and 90Nm of torque. While the figures don’t look as impressive on paper, the motor performs really well in day to day scenarios.

ARAI rated mileage stands at 20.51kmpl.

Turn the key and the engine comes to life with vibrations inherent to 3 cylinder engines. We found that the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels were distinctly higher compared to the i10 or the Micra. The engine lacks low-end grunt, which means you would need to be heavy on the throttle to exploit gaps in traffic. As the revs climb, the engine becomes very audible inside the cabin. The engine is tuned for  the city and efficiency. Naturally, at highway speeds, the WagonR feels out of breath — it is best behaved when driven under 120kmph.

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Maruti Wagon R Tata Tiago Hyundai i10 Nissan Micra Active
Power 67.04bhp@6200rpm 84bhp@6000rpm 68.05bhp@5500rpm 67.04bhp@5000rpm
Torque (Nm) 90Nm@3500rpm 114Nm@3500rpm 99.04Nm@4500rpm 104Nm@4000rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 998 1199 1086 1198
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 152 kmph 150 kmph 165 Kmph 160 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 18.6 Seconds 14.3 Seconds 14.3 Seconds 15 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 890kg 1012kg 860kg -
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 20.51kmpl 23.84kmpl 19.81kmpl 19.49kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 75.32584269662922 bhp/ton 83.00395256916997 bhp/ton 79.12790697674419 bhp/ton -
 

Automated Manual Transmission (AMT)

The WagonR gets an automated manual transmission as well. There are just two pedals, and the operation is like a conventional automatic vehicle. Slot the gear lever in D, let go of the brakes and the car creeps forward on its own. The operation of the clutch is controlled by a hydraulic actuator, thereby relieving your left leg. 

The AMT on the little Maruti isn’t the most polished units around. There are slight jerks when the car upshifts or downshifts, but they can be easily overlooked during daily commutes. You can also take charge of the gears yourself by shifting it into manual mode.

Ride & Handling:

Like most Marutis, the steering is light, making it extremely easy to manoeuvre in traffic and park. However, the steering does not weigh up as much as the speeds climb, making it feel nervous on the highway. The suspension is on the softer side and can handle the occasional bump or pothole at low speeds. At high speeds, the ride is bouncy and not the most comfortable of the lot. In comparison, the Micra feels a lot more planted at high speeds. 

Safety

The Wagon R gets an energy absorbing body structure with impact beams and crumple zones in critical areas. In a recent update, dual front airbags and anti-lock braking system were made available across trim levels, barring the CNG variant.  

Variants

  • Petrol
  • CNG
Variants Features Price
Wagon R LXI Body Coloured Bumper, Electric Power steering, Central Locking, 4.15 Lakh*
Wagon R VXI [ In adition to LXI ] Integrated Music System, Keyless Door Locking, Adjustable Steering Column, [ Variant LXI price ] + 26,042 =  4.41 Lakh*
Wagon R VXI Plus [ In adition to VXI ] Alloy Wheels, Driver Airbag, Rear Spoiler, [ Variant VXI price ] + 28,665 =  4.69 Lakh*
Wagon R AMT VXI [ In adition to VXI Plus ] Same Features As VXi, Automatic Transmission, [ Variant VXI Plus price ] + 18,435 =  4.88 Lakh*
Wagon R AMT VXI Plus [ In adition to AMT VXI ] Automatic Transmission, Same Features As VXi Plus, [ Variant AMT VXI price ] + 28,526 =  5.16 Lakh*
Variants Features Price
Wagon R LXI CNG Air Conditioner with Heater, Central Locking (i-CATS), Factory Fitted CNG Kit, 4.69 Lakh*

The WagonR comes across as a value for money offering, especially in the LXi (O) variant.

Over the LX version, you get chrome garnishes, roof rails, body colored bumpers, power steering, power windows on the front, central locking and a 12V power socket. You could get an aftermarket stereo on this variant or opt for the Avance Edition.  The top end VXi gets a few other bells & whistles like a rear cabin light, vanity mirror, tilt adjustable steering and a security system. 

Maruti Wagon R similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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