Driven: Maruti Wagon R
Updated interiors, minor tweaks on the exterior and marginal price hike for Maruti’s strong-selling hatchback
Maruti’s marketing team calls the Wagon R its ‘blue-eyed boy’, and not without reason. It is after all, the top five selling cars in India and part of the company’s bread-and-butter range along with both the Altos. So keeping the product fresh and updated is the key to keep the sales charts ticking.
On the outside, the changes are limited to the front of the car. The grille is marginally narrower than the older version and gets a single horizontal strip, rather than the earlier three stripes. The LXi and VXi trims get additional chrome. The bumper is also new, with a much more prominent air dam and newer housing for the fog lamps. According to the company, the changes to the car have been incorporated after customer feedback. Maruti has left the rear end of the car untouched.
Step inside the cabin and you’ll notice the sea of beige replacing the black/blue combination from the last car. The base LX version will get black/beige seat fabric while the LXi and VXi versions will get all beige seats. Even the dashboard has splashes of beige now. A new integrated stereo with a USB slot is now standard on the VXi. Maruti engineers have also managed to provide an extra glovebox on top of the older one. Though not massive by any standards, it’s good enough to accommodate a couple of diet cola cans.
The engine remains the same but engineers have reworked the mapping for better refinement, emissions and improved efficiency. Maruti claims a figure of 20.51kpl against the older versions 18.9kpl. The three-cylinder unit is rev-happy and remains smooth for most of its rev range. The rubbery gearshift though spoils some fun that could be had from this engine. Also, we think Maruti should seriously consider making the golf-ball shaped gearknob from the Swift/Ritz mandatory across its range. The oval-shaped unit here feels odd to hold. The softly-sprung suspension does its job well, considering the weedy 155-section tyres it has to work with. Upgrading to at least 165-section rubber will improve both handling and ride by a fair bit.
Prices for the new Wagon R have been bumped up by around Rs 10,000 and start at Rs 3.58 lakh for the base LX version while the VXi costs Rs 4.13 lakh (both, ex-showroom, Delhi). If you are on a super tight budget and need the roomy cabin then go for it, but we’d suggest you stretch your budget, take a loan, and buy the base LXi version of the Ritz instead, which feels a much better rounded car for not that much extra.
998cc, in-line 3-cyl petrol, 67bhp, 90Nm torque, FWD, Rs 3.58 lakh onwards
The Wagon R has a refined engine and spacious cabin which defies its compact footprint, but there are cheaper and more generously kitted alternatives avaliable.