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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:18   #1
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Default Maruti WagonR : Test Drive & Review

What you'll like:

• The same successful formula, now improved
• A practical value-for-money package
• Better road manners, especially urban ride quality
• Improved interior space
• Precise gear shifts, unlike the previously lousy quality
• Optional ABS & Dual Airbags on the VXi variant
• Maruti's stellar after-sales quality & network

What you won't:

• Higher NVH levels, inherent to 3 cylinder engines. Average low rpm throttle response
• Iffy build & interior part quality
• Smaller boot compared to the outgoing gen. 180L capacity
• Looks are not as contemporary as other recent launches

Reported Fuel Efficiency:

- 12.8 (City) / 17.1 (Highway)

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window.


Last edited by GTO : 20th December 2010 at 16:16. Reason: Adding Fuel Efficiency numbers from our ownership reviews, and a link to that section
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:18   #2
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A whopping 20 cars make up the A2 hatchback segment today, 7 of which were launched in the last one year. This is not only the most crowded market segment, but also the most competitive. The A2 brings the volumes home to Maruti, Hyundai, Tata and, in recent time, Chevrolet along with Ford.

The Wagon R is a vital cog in the Maruti wheel. It’s a car that contributes close to 14% of Maruti’s annual sales, and has been a consistent performer (averaging a monthly 10,000 cars) on the sales charts. Why the change then? Developments on the regulatory and competitive fronts; BS-IV emission norms, the launch of the Ford Figo & Chevrolet Beat, and the success of the Hyundai i10. Considering that the A-Star & Estilo have not exactly set the market on fire, the WagonR plays a very crucial role in Maruti’s product portfolio. Consider how it undercuts all direct rivals with the VFM pricing:
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Make no mistakes: The new WagonR is not a mere cosmetic facelift; it is an all new platform that will do duty across the globe. This car has been heavily localized to match Indian preferences. There are three trim levels = The LX & LXi are pretty much similar to the outgoing model. It is the VXi where all the action is. An in-dash CD player with 4 speakers, 4 power windows (unlike the old WagonR & Santro), tilt-adjustable steering, keyless entry with iCats engine immobiliser, central locking, rear wiper & defogger, electrically adjustable mirrors, 60:40 splitting rear seat, 14 inch wheels (13 on the lesser variants) and optional ABS + Airbags (Note: Only available together, unlike in the Swift where you can choose ABS sans Airbags).

The WagonR is the original tall boy globally, though it was launched after the Hyundai Santro in India. In 9 years of presence in our market, the car has undergone some facelifts, mostly cosmetic in nature, in an attempt to freshen up the looks. However, the WagonR still remained “Boxy” to the crowds. The new model attempts to reduce that boxiness, and succeeds, albeit only to a certain extent.



Externally, the car looks bigger and I must say, much better than the older version. The headlamps are larger, while the tinge of blue (on the parking lamps) is a deft touch. The front grill with a chrome strip, much like the Estilo, coupled with bigger bumpers & the wide air intake give the car a grown up look. Notice that the number plate is now placed at the center. Makes the car look a lot more symmetrical IMHO.

From the side, the roof-rails (body-coloured on the top end version) and the slanting roof give it a better profile than the ol’ Wagon. The subtle wheel arches blend in well, but the tyres look terribly puny. I was pleasantly surprised to see the car shod with Apollo tyres. JK has been the old Maruti favourite, but we really didn’t like them, did we? The rear windscreen is huge! And like the headlamps, the rear lights are also noticeably larger.

Indians love chrome and this car has dollops of it. The “WagonR” nameplate is embossed on the chrome strip at the rear, which I guess is the first of its kind in the segment. However, I do not like the position of the hatchback lock. Something like the i10 would have looked far better. Build is par for the segment, though the odd misaligned panel gap is conspicuous.

My overall feel about the design is this : While the new WagonR is better looking than the outgoing version, it still won’t appeal to a buyer on design alone (as say, a Chevy beat might). No one has bought the WagonR for its styling, and I don’t think anyone will in the near future either.




The doors open nice and wide



"WagonR" in chrome








The ooutgoing tall boy vis-a-vis the newest boy on the block. Note that the car is visibly wider, taller and better looking. The tail lamps and the windscreen too have larger dimensions


A specs comparison: The WagonR and its competitors

Maruti WagonR : Test Drive & Review-specs.jpg

Last edited by Dippy : 26th April 2010 at 11:48. Reason: Adding specs comparison sheet
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:19   #3
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The tall boy design, with larger doors that open w-i-d-e, ensure that ingress / egress is comfortable (even to the elderly). The interiors feel airy, relative to direct competitors (especially the Chevrolet Beat). Frontal visibility was always a strength of the WagonR, with the new one enforcing it even further. Rearward visibility has increased due to the larger rear windscreen. I fiddled around with seat & tilt-steering settings, and can state that it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Maruti has increased the length of the car by 75 mm (to 3,595 mm) while the wheelbase increases by 40mm (to 2,400 mm). The new WagonR is also higher & wider at 1700mm & 1495 mm respectively. The numbers translate to better leg room, especially at the back. This car can easily accommodate 4 adults & the legroom is overall above the segment averages. Headroom – a strength of tallboys – remains generous. On the flip side, it is a narrow design, thus the shoulder space is below average (3 on the rear seat would be a tight fit). The rear floor is nearly flat, making it a tad more comfortable for passengers. Do take a look at the picture which illustrates the rear leg room when I (with my 5’11” frame) am in my normal driving position. Without doubt, the increased rear bench room has come at the cost of boot space, which is now much smaller.

The dash, though a boring gray color, feels better than the average Maruti dash. There’s even a digital fuel gauge and two trip meters. The in-dash stereo is well-integrated and will appeal to segment buyers. The stereo supports Aux / CD / FM, but you need to buy an adapter (sold separately as an MGP accessory) for USB. Sound quality, however, is strictly average. Changing the HU would be a tedious task, thus the easier option is to upgrade the 4 speakers. Note that the center console isn’t truly in the center; it’s strangely positioned toward the left (see pictures).

The seats look nice and the upholstery is a combination of black & blue. The compound is slightly on the firmer side, albeit nothing major to complain about. The lumbar and thigh support are average, both at the front and the rear. All doors come with (slim) map pockets. There are two push-type soda can holders on the dashboard. The quality of these holders is below average and I can see them breaking / rattling / failing pretty early, especially if used frequently. Part quality is not in the league of the Hyundai i10 or Chevrolet Beat. The glove compartment is deeper than usual, and can easily carry the service booklet, some documents and a small book / CDs. The under-seat basket (front passenger seat) is an innovative touch. Space enough for a netbook, or you can remove the basket altogether and carry it along for shopping. Again, boot size has been reduced to 180 liters (Santro = 218 L, Beat = 170 L, i10 = 225 L).

At blower speed 2 in the North-Indian summer, the air-conditioner kept me comfortable (not chilly, comfortable).

The orange halo is a nice touch, and so is the mobile-signal-like fuel indicator. When you are driving, and there is nothing wrong with the car (read: no warning lights), the right circle does look a bit empty, doesn't it ?


The stereo looks better than it sounds


Thats the can holder at the right. Right in front of the AC blower, it will keep your coke a li'l cooler. The quality of the plastic is nothing to write home about.


Generous leg room, and decent quality upholstery.




Thats the under seat storage. Very innovative. Carry veggies, milk packets etc. Easy to operate and pretty easy to clean it too.




Disappointing boot size
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:19   #4
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The Estilo & A-Star’s BS-IV compliant K series engine finds its way into the new WagonR. This 998cc 3-cylinder petrol is rated @ 67 BHP (6,200 rpm) and 90 NM of torque (3,500 rpm). The new WagonR is heavier by 35 kilos, has marginally more horsepower & torque, and one cylinder less.

Start the car and it’s glaringly evident that there is a 3 cylinder engine under the hood. NVH levels are definitely higher than its petrol competition (Santro, Beat etc.). I drove the WagonR on the Delhi Expressway (NH8), and the inside roads of Gurgaon. Throttle response isn’t immediate at low rpms, affecting city driveability. The 1st & 2nd gear ratios are relatively short, yet you will make frequent use of the gearbox in bumper-to-bumper traffic. You need to be generous with the accelerator pedal, and once the rpm needle climbs, the engine feels rather revv-happy. It is a free-revving unit and a joy to work, especially on the open road in 3rd & 4th gears. Mid-range is very punchy by segment standards. Acceleration in the 5th gear till about 100 kph is smooth, after which progress is slow. The engine gets noisy at higher rpms (over 4,500), and the vibrations are indeed carried into the cabin. The ARAI fuel efficiency rating is 18.9 kpl, which is amongst the best in its segment (Beat = 18.6, Santro = 16.8, A-Star a topper at 19.6). ARAI had rated the older WagonR at 17 kpl; the new version is expected to be 10% more fuel efficient (thanks in no small measure to the 3 cylinder layout). The old WagonR was plagued by its rubbery gear shifts. I slotted the new car into first gear, and was pleasantly surprised with the precise shifting. Moved into second and I was sure that gear shifting is one of the biggest improvements in the car. Not as short as, say a Swift, yet very precise shift quality. The clutch feels light and has just the right amount of play.

Ride quality is much improved in the new WagonR, with the suspension staying sufficiently compliant within the city. It’s distinctly better than in my Swift, or the bumpy earlier generation. The steering reminds me a lot of the NHC. It’s super-light and makes the car easily maneuverable within the city. At speed though, and expectedly, the feedback is inexistent & the feel lifeless. There is significant body roll when you throw it into corners. You are advised to keep the vehicle’s tall dimensions in mind and adopt a demure driving style. In spite of the increased length, the turning radius has been kept constant at 4.6 meters. The brake pedal feels a tad spongy. I tried hard braking a couple of times, and the wheels did not lock (ABS is well calibrated). However, there is no denying the fact that the WagonR remains under-tyred.

The overall package is attractive, and will appeal to those who wish to buy a city car with their head, and not the heart.

Last edited by Dippy : 26th April 2010 at 11:42. Reason: Spell-check. Throw in = Throw it (into corners)
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:20   #5
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Other Points:

• Called the “blue-eyed” boy by Maruti thanks to the blue-tinged headlamps.

• The gear knob fits your fist perfectly well.

• Dual horn system is really loud (including on the inside). The positioning of the horn button on the steering is not very comfortable to use.

• There are 7 color options available (white, black, silver, fire-black red, blue, bakers chocolate and grey). All of these are what I call “safe shades”. There is nothing drastic like the Figo’s green or the Estilo’s pink.

• The Santro, i10 and Beat have decidedly superior NVH levels.

• Cubby hole near the gear lever has a soft rubber base. This protects your mobile camera lens (if you rest it there).

• 1 speaker on each of the 4 doors.

• Driver’s seat has a long travel range.

• Rear quarter glass of the previous gen missing.

• I miss the button that locks / unlocks all the four doors simultaneously.

• No Duo (LPG) variant available. Period.
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:20   #6
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The Smaller but Significant things:

Buttons on the key itself. They look nice, but I hope they survive prolonged usage.


I miss the button that locks / unlocks all the four doors simultaneously.


That gear knob fitted into my wrist nice and proper.


Lotsa space in the engine bay to play around fellows, if you know what I mean


Deep glove compartment.
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:41   #7
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Thanks for that wonderful review there eddy. Looks much better than the outgoing one . The addition ABS + airbags is definitely a welcome move and I am being optimistic about the fact that there are gonna be a lot of takers for the same.

Quote:
Thats the under seat storage. Very innovative. Carry veggies, milk packets etc. Easy to operate and pretty easy to clean it too.
Something very innovative and maybe the other manufacturers should think of integrating the same. Definitely the ICE lovers will have a tough time considering the smaller boot space.
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:42   #8
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Superb review Eddy. Though still boxy, the new WagonR is definitely a refreshing change from the earlier facelift models.

Quote:
The old WagonR was plagued by its rubbery gear shifts. I slotted the new car into first gear, and was pleasantly surprised with the precise shifting.
I agree. The earlier car had pretty bad shifts. Good to see Maruti addressing the issue in this one.

What is your take on the overall quality of plastics of the dashboard? The upholstery fabric looks good for sure.

Quote:
No Duo (LPG) variant available
I'm surprised. I thought the Duo sold quite well. Any plans for introducing one again in the future?
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:45   #9
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Is the boot large enough to fit a CNG kit?
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:48   #10
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Nice review.
Worthy upgrade to current Wagon-R.

What about the rear seats?
Can they be folded to a flat surface (like in first gen Wagon-R)?
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:54   #11
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You have done it again!

Love you guys!! thanks for the fantastic and detailed review!!!
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:56   #12
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Awesome review Eddy. Loved it and as you mentioned, it isnt revolutionary in any sense. Maruti have improved a lot over the previous model (and lost quite a bit as well) but even then it is not the best in the segment.
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Old 23rd April 2010, 14:57   #13
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Eddy - great review.

One query: I'm presuming the suspension setup is similar to the outgoing model - soft and optimized for city ride ?
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Old 23rd April 2010, 15:01   #14
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Nice review Eddy! I guess now Wagon-R makes lot of sense than previous one.It would have been amazing if they put K12M engine in the bay (seems it can fit it).
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Old 23rd April 2010, 15:01   #15
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In the pic comparing the older and the latest wagonr, i feel the new one has become somewhat more squarish at the rear, maybe because of the increased rear glass, the older one looks a bit more roundish to me,

Also, in earlier WagonR, while shifting between first and second gear, you would often rub your hands and the gear lever with your co-passenger, is it the same in this as well,
Has the storage space below the steering wheel gone as also the storage area under the Glove box, I feel the cubby holes and storage spaces in this model have gone down tremendously.

I also liked the earlier models Electric ORVM switch, Eddy, how did the newer one feel,

It seems the plastic quality has been compromised to keep the costs lower. Probably not a good idea from Maruti.

The Rear power windows are really a boon,

Anyways, Eddy, Nice Review,

Last edited by shantanumishra : 23rd April 2010 at 15:04.
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