Maruti WagonR vs Hyundai Santro vs Tata Tiago - Comparison Review

Published On Apr 24, 2019 By Nabeel for Maruti Wagon R 2013-2022

The small-hatchback space is more complex than ever. Where earlier it was meant to be an ideal workhorse for the family, it now has to deal with an updated list of demands for convenience features and premium quality. All this while remaining true to its do-it-all nature. Can any of these cars accomplish this herculean task?

If you are looking to buy your first car, or a second family car for the city, these three cars - the Maruti WagonR, Hyundai Santro and Tata Tiago - would surely have crossed your list. While two of these cars bear what are probably the most iconic small-hatchback nameplates in the country, the Tiago is Tata’s attempt to break the stereotype and offer premium features in an affordable package. As a result, all three cars offer a very different value set which can be suitable for specific set of buyers. Our task today is to find out which of these cars is the best all-rounder that offers the best value for the buck. 


  • It's hard to call the WagonR a good looking hatchback. The tall-boy design results in a boxy shape which looks very functional but without form. Not helping its case further are 14-inch steel wheels with grey wheel caps and the absence of any feel-good features on the outside like LED DRLs or projector headlamps. 
  • But Maruti does offer a lot of official customization packs which include alloy wheels and exterior packs to jazz up the styling. 

  • The Santro feels better designed than the WagonR. The more rounded edges helps it mask the ‘tall-boy’ design better. But it's still something which will not appeal to your heart and remains a bit polarizing for the testing team. And like the WagonR, the Santro too misses out on good looking bits like alloy wheels, fancy headlamps or a dual-tone colour option. 

  • In contrast to the other two, the Tata Tiago is a handsome hatchback. In fact, it is arguably one of the best looking hatchbacks on sale today. Helping its cause further are projector headlamps with blacked out bezels, 15-inch alloy wheels and a black roof.
  • If you need your car to be good looking and have good road presence, the Tiago will surely keep you happy. The beauty of the Santro and WagonR purely lies in the eye of the beholder. 


Common Features

7-inch Touchscreen Infotainment

Dual Airbags

Android Auto


All-4 Power Windows

Rear Parking Sensors

Steering Mounted Controls

Keyless Entry

Electrical Adjustable ORVM

Fog Lamps

  • Step in the WagonR and you feel like you have stepped in a spacious room. The windscreen is at a good distance from you and the headroom is enough to fit another head over mine. It is the most spacious cabin of the three and ideal for taller passengers. 

  • The layout of the dashboard is very functional with the 7-inch Smartplay Studio display being the highlight. It gets support for Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and has a colorful layout. There is a slight lag in the system but it's easy to get accustomed to. But it gets just 2 speakers in the front doors and hence the sound quality doesn't feel as good as the other two. 
  • It also gets a host of functional storage spaces in the centre console, big enough to fit modern-day phablets and more space for knick-knacks in front of the handbrake. 
  • The WagonR gets a manual AC with the centre vents placed on either side of the protruding infotainment display. The vents are a little small and the AV itself isn't powerful enough to cool the cabin on a hot day. You will often find yourself keep the blower speed on the higher side, especially during sunny hours. 

  • The Santro’s highlight lies in the cabin quality. The materials, fit and finish is all top-notch and it feels from a segment above. The seats too gets rexine outlines which helps the cabin feel more premium.

  • The 7-inch infotainment display here is the best of the three. The system is very responsive and gets support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It gets a 4-speaker sound system which would satisfy the average listener. It even gets a rear camera which takes care of your parking fears.  
  • Another aspect of the Santro which would be handy for the first time and enderly drivers is the all-round visibility. The window line is slightly below the shoulder and the A-pillar too is small, which gives you a good unrestricted view of the outside.

  • But when it comes to features, Hyundai has clearly focused on quality over quantity. While you gets the best infotainment and air conditioning, you miss out on basic features like electric folding ORVMs, one-touch auto down window for driver, adjustable steering or seat height or lane change indicators. In fact, you even have to switch on the wipers manually after the windscreen washers, which I have never seen before seen in a car. While individually these features might not feel important, together they do take away the charm of this premium cabin.
  • Also missing on the Santro are practical storage options. You get a platform below the AC controls which can only hold smaller mobile phones and a cubbyhole in front of the hand brake which doubles up as a cup/Swachh Can holder. 

  • The Tata Tiago is the only car here which gives the ‘big-car’ feel in terms of cabin layout. It gets a clean dashboard with a neatly integrated 7-inch touchscreen. The dashboard also gets an all-black top which looks more upmarket than the other two cars. 
  • Also, it's the Tiago here which offers the most wow factor. The cabin gets a long list of standout features like 4 speakers + 4 tweeters, flip key with remote, adjustable front head rests, cooled glovebox, drive modes, automatic climate control and height-adjustable driver seat. 

  • If you are looking for a feature-loaded car, the Tiago's extensive feature list justifies its price well and is surely is the one to pick. 

Rear Seat

  • All three cars here are very comfortable for two passengers at the back. And while you won't be left complaining for leg, knee or head room in either of the cars, the WagonR is the only when where you can stretch out your feet under the seat. But the backrest here protrudes out near your lower back, which results in you being left with less under-thigh support. For three passengers at the back though, the WagonR is the only one here which can barely squeeze three adults. 

  • The Santro gets the most comfortable rear seats with a large seat base and a well-reclined backrest. It even gets rear AC vents to keep you cool. Where it misses out however is the usable shoulder room. While two people are going to be fairly comfortable, three at the back will not be fair to any of the passengers. 

  • Tata Tiago gets the best contoured rear seats, which offer ample under-thigh support. And though it will be more comfortable over longer stints than the Santro, the cushioning feels a little intrusive on smaller journeys. 
  • None of the cars offer a centre armrest or cup holders, but all can accommodate a bottle in the rear doors.

Engine and Performance


Maruti WagonR

Hyundai Santro

Tata Tiago





No. of Cyl





83PS @ 6000rpm

69PS @ 5500rpm

85PS @ 6000rpm


113Nm @ 4200rpm

99Nm @ 4500rpm

114Nm @ 3500rpm


5-speed MT

5-speed MT

5-speed MT

Tested Performance


Maruti WagonR

Hyundai Santro

Tata Tiago


12.15 seconds

15.23 seconds

15.24 seconds

30-80 kmph (3rd Gear)

10.22 seconds

11.91 seconds

12.66 seconds

40-100 kmph (4th Gear)

18.82 seconds

21.31 seconds

22.33 seconds

100-0 kmph

45.26 metres

40.13 metres

43.05 metres

City Efficiency




Highway Efficiency




  • The Maruti WagonR gets a new 1.2-litre engine which has been seen in larger cars like the Swift and Baleno. This engine has been long known for its refinement, reliability and efficiency. Given that the WagonR only weighs 835kg, the engine even offers effortless performance. Of the three cars here, not only is the WagonR the quickest to 100kmph by over 3 seconds, it also the quickest to accelerate in gears as well.
  • This offers a stress free and easy drive in the city. The WagonR feels peppy to get upto speeds and overtaking in the city is also effortless. The steering is also light and this combination makes the WagonR a wonderful city slicker. 

  • The Santro is the least powerful car here, and this shows in the way it drives as well. It lacks torque in the lower rpms and hence picking up from 1000rpm takes a lot of time and effort. This also forces you downshift for quick overtakes and you will have to fall back to first gear in order to get going in traffic. 
  • But once you are past the 2500rpm mark, the engine comes into its own and offers swift acceleration. This is the reason why the Santro manages better in-gear acceleration than the Tiago despite feeling lazier in the city. On the highway, the engine works very well, with clean power delivery. 

  • The Tiago is also the most powerful car here, at least on paper. When tested, the Tiago proved to be the slowest to 100kmph and also in the in-gear acceleration. But inside the city, the Taigo feels more responsive because it packs better low-end torque. Picking up from lower rpm is quicker and takes less effort. It's the mid range where the Tiago loses out to the Santro, and hence you will have to plan your city overtakes in advance.
  • The Tiago is the only one here with a 3-cylinder engine. As a result, there are vibrations on idle and a little gruffness while running, which makes it feel less refined than the other two. The engine noise also seeps into the cabin more than the other two. 
  • In terms of efficiency, all the three cars are very closely stacked. But our tests have proven the WagonR to be the most frugal both in the city and on the highway. 

Ride and Handling

  • The WagonR gets the softest suspension setup here. It offers a very smooth and flat drive on city roads. Even over speed breakers and potholes, the WagonR maintains its composure and doesn't let harshness into the cabin. It's only when you drive over an undulation too fast that the front suspension bottoms out and causes a jerk inside the cabin. 
  • But because of its tall-boy design, it gets a fair bit of body roll in corners and even at highway speeds. Inside the city though, you do not face any such issue provided you abide by speed limits. One thing worth pointing out is the slow steering rack which requires more turns than expected to turn the wheels. But you can get used to this over a short period. 

  • The Santro gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup. But it doesn't feel as well damped as the Wagon R and hence there is a constant bounciness in the cabin. This is amplified with a full load of passengers as the cabin tends to oscillate constantly even at city speeds. Also, while the Santro takes care of most of the surface harshness, it still sends more feedback into the cabin compared to the Tiago. 
  • In terms of handling, the Santro gets a well-weighted steering for city use. It even handles very well on highways, with good stability and ride comfort. 

  • The Tiago is the best balance of the two. It takes care of bad and broken roads very well, with the suspension taking care of surface changes well before they come to you. But at city speeds, there is a constant feedback from the suspension, which causes jitteriness in the cabin. This starts to get annoying over a long drive. 
  • The stiffer suspension and good feedback from the steering in the Tiago means you can easily play around a set of corners. 


  • All the three cars offer dual airbags, ABS with EBD and rear parking sensors as standard. It's the Tiago which goes one step ahead and also offers cornering stability control. Even in terms of build quality, the Tiago here feels the most solid. 


All the three cars here offer different set of values. But like we mentioned earlier, we were looking for the best all-rounder which gets the basics of a small hatchback right, and at the same time feels premium enough to keep up with the times. This description is best suited to the WagonR, which wins this comparison and is the best city car here. It offers unmatched space and practicality, and the new engine just rounds off the package perfectly. It doesn't offer as many features as the Tiago, but all the essentials are in place along with the lowest price tag as well. 

There are some misses in the package, like the lack of highway confidence and the not-so-powerful AC, but neither are off-putting on a daily basis. If you are looking for a practical, do-it-all, value-for-money city car for the family, the Maruti Wagon R is the pick. And most importantly, while the shortfalls of the other cars - like Tiago’s lack of engine refinement or the Santro’s lazy city drivability - will become a bother in your everyday drive, the WagonR’s shortcomings won't hamper your drive on a daily basis. 

If your requirements are more specific, the other two cars do make a strong case for themselves as well. While the Tiago’s lack of engine refinement and jitteriness in ride hold it back, its impressive feature list, handling, and highway performance make for a good all-rounder if you often take road trips. The Hyundai Santo will appeal to you if you are looking for a second car as a city runabout and expect it to offer premium quality. And while the Santro lacks rear seat space, features and more importantly city driveability, the refined engine, best-in-class infotainment and comfortable seats makes for a cabin that you will love to be in.

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