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New Maruti Suzuki Wagon R: Looks like a box, but drives like a sedan

Vikram Chaudhary

By the looks of it, the new Wagon R doesn t come across as a peppy car; spacious, it does. But once you fire the engine and step on the accelerator, you ll be in for a pleasant surprise. After driving a few kilometres, you will gradually start to understand why this unlovely looking car has been loved by Indians for over 20 years. In fact, for over a decade, the Wagon R has been amongst India s top-5 best-selling cars. Now, the new-generation Wagon R is here, and we drive it near Udaipur in Rajasthan.

What defines its design?
It still looks boxy; it has to, because the Wagon is perhaps the best example of space utilisation inside a vehicle a box shape ensures that. But this box has gotten bold, and stylish. The car now has a wider stance compared to the previous generation, it truly looks tall boy , and its dual-split headlamps, flared wheel arches, bold fog lamps and the new grille make it look modern.

Is it more spacious than ever?
Cabin space in the new Wagon R is more than even in some entry-level SUVs. Its boot, for example, is bigger than that of the Vitara Brezza s. The quality is good, too. The new dashboard, X themed instrument panel, multi-finish accentuated AC vents all look good. Five tall passengers can easily sit inside without rubbing against each other. The rear seat gets a 60:40 split for practicality.

Which engines power it?
There is a choice of two petrol engines. The 1.0-litre that develops 50kW (67bhp) of power, 90Nm torque and returns a claimed fuel-efficiency of 22.5kpl; and the 1.2-litre that develops 61kW (82bhp) power, 113Nm torque and has a claimed mileage of 21.5kpl. The car is built on the new Heartect platform that same as that of the new Swift and Baleno.

How does it drive?
I drove the car powered by the new 1.2-litre engine. One, the engine sound barely enters the cabin. Two, the car is surprisingly fast be it initial acceleration or acceleration through the gears, you ll feel the car is running on steroids. Three, the actual fuel-efficiency is very good (18-20kpl in city driving conditions). Four, in the top-end variant there are so many driver-assistance features that nothing seems lacking. Steering-mounted audio and calling controls, you have it. Tilt-adjustable steering wheel, you have it. Electrical ORVMs with side indicators, you have it. Touchscreen infotainment (17.78cm SmartPlay), you have it. Keyless entry, you have it. What you don t have is reverse parking camera, but sensors, you have it.

The Wagon R also comes with the Auto Gear Shift (AGS) option. While it takes its sweet time to change gears, the engine power delivery nullifies that lag to an extent. However, while driving in urban areas and at slow speeds, you don t feel that AGS lag.

Is it value-for-money?
A reason the Wagon R is so popular is because you get more cabin space for your money than any other small car. You also get the required safety features, a peppy and fuel-efficient engine, and low running and maintenance costs. The 1.0-litre is priced startingRs4.19 lakh (ex-showroom) and the AGS is Rs5.16 lakh. However, we would recommend the 1.2-litre version for just Rs 20,000 extra (trim-to-trim), you get a vehicle that though still looks like a box, but whose driving experience is like that of any small but powerful SUV/sedan. The 1.2-litre version is priced from Rs4.89 lakh to Rs5.69 lakh.