When was the last time you saw or heard a car manufacturer withdraw one of its most successful models that was well past its prime? Well, never we guess. In India, every time a successful car hits its prime, the makers are quick to re-launch it with a new nose, new graphics and an “all new” tag, just to keep the interest alive and cash registers ringing. Maruti Suzuki has successfully done this so far with almost all its models. But it has especially gone the whole hog with its blue-eyed hatchback and country’s first ever tall boy – the Wagon R. Ever since its launch way back in the year 1999, this entry-level hatch had been the hottest thing among the small car buyers. And the new and improved Wagon R just promises to take the success story forward. But will it be the same success for Maruti in India. Let’s find out.
The new India-specific Wagon R is a far cry from its Japanese counterparts. Although, it still bears the tall boy design and the squared edges of its precursor, it certainly looks more modern and sporty. The front gets a more pronounced bonnet with a big bold grille and the blue-eyed boy actually gets blue eyes in the form of a tiny blue parking lamp cover in the redesigned headlamp cluster. The rear has also been freshened up with new bumper, redesigned tail lamps and a chunky chrome lid.
The tall boy design allows the best in class headroom, leg room and knee room. On the downside, it’s very narrow, so three people on the rear seat can be left cramped for space. The basic cabin of the erstwhile Wagon R has been upgraded with a new dash layout, up-market blue upholstery, and a whole host of add-ons like retractable cup holder, keyless entry and large space under the front passenger seat. There is also a brand new tilt adjustable steering wheel and an integrated in dash 4 speaker music system and front aux port.
The new Wagon R is powered by the 998cc and 3 cylinders K10 B engine that unleashes 67 bhp of power and 90 Nm of torque. So it’s quite a breeze to drive around in the city, yet planted enough for the highway. It has a highly fuel-efficient engine that gives it an ARAI certified mileage of 18.9 kmpl. The soft and notchy gearbox of the old Wagon R has been replaced by 5 cable linked gear box that feels slick and sure. Maruti has also made major changes to the Wagon R suspension as well. The steering isn’t feather light anymore and provides feedback when cornering. However, because of its tall boy stance, there is quite body roll, but it doesn’t deviate from its line. At slow speeds, on average city conditions, the ride is good and compliant. But as you pick up speed, the ride tends to get a bit more undulating and bumpy.