Hashtags are usually marketing gimmicks run by ad teams to highlight a key point about a product. Usually they are just that – mere gimmicks. However, there is always an exception to the rule and the #BigNewWagonR hashtag that Maruti asked us to use was that. This car is not only roomier than the outgoing model with longer, taller and wider dimensions, it’s a car that can trounce many a compact SUV or sedan for sheer back seat space. The highlight though is the 341-litre boot, which beats its own siblings, the Swift and Baleno, but more on that later.
Boxy. That’s the one word to describe the looks of this car. It looks more like a miniature MPV rather than a hatchback. The tall boy design has been a hit with the buyers and Maruti hasn’t changed the script one bit. At the front you get a strong indent on the lamps to give the car a sporty look and a huge flat grille as well. The strong shoulder line is accentuated with a black plastic insert on the last C-pillar. The rear end is dominated by a chunky set of lamps, which give it a muscular look and mimic a much posher SUV. Overall, it’s a design that won’t offend many yet won’t excite many either.
Step inside the backseat of the new WagonR and you will immediately notice the extra leg and shoulder room on offer. The car is around 13mm longer and 125mm wider, which might not seem a lot on paper but in real world conditions it is now one of the roomiest small car for sheer head and legroom combined. In fact, the new WagonR’s cabin feels like a very bright and airy place to be in. This feeling is accentuated by the light beige fabric, which lifts up the ambience of the car as well. However, there are a couple of things that could turn off some people. There aren’t any rear AC vents, a feature which even the Santro offers now. You also don’t get a central cupholder at the back, which the older car got and there isn’t any charging point for rear occupants, a big oversight from Maruti in today’s mobile age, when everyone’s phone is running on low battery perpetually.
The front seats offer generous support as well and buyers with lanky legs will appreciate the cushioning which supports there long limbs. Maruti has introduced Apple Carplay and Android auto on this car now and a new infotainment system debuts on the WagonR too. The quality of the cabin is decent and at par with rivals but the Hyundai Santro seems to have the edge for overall perceived quality levels inside the cabin.
Special mention has to be made for the boot, which at 341-litres is massive to say the least. To put things in perspective, the bigger and more expensive Maruti Baleno offers a 338 litre boot while the Brezza SUV offers 328 litres of storage. Buyers will also appreciate the 60:40 split seats at the back which aid practicality by a bit.
Engine, performance and gearbox
You get a choice of two engine options. The earlier 1-litre, three-cylinder unit is retained and you also get the 1.2-litre K-series petrol engine from the Swift/Baleno. We sampled the latter. This engine is by far the best available today on a small car for sheer refinement, responsiveness and overall economy. It offers nippy performance from what is essentially a budget family car. However, if you want ultimate driving thrills then you should still spend the extra cash and go for the Swift, that’s because the gearbox and steering just don’t offer the same dynamic feel that the Swift has on offer. More on this below.
Ride and handling
For sheer ride comfort it’s hard to fault the WagonR. The car doesn’t feel like a budget hatchback but more like a premium hatchback. Ride over badly patched up roads at slower city speeds and the car will easily take them in its stride. The steering is overtly light, which makes it a boon in the city but on the highway when you exceed speeds in excess of 90kph, the car does feel a bit nervous thanks to this limited feel from the steering. That said highway ride comfort is good too and the car feels relatively well planted considering its compact wheelbase.
Overall, with its peppy, fuel efficient engines, roomy cabin and large boot the WagonR is a practical, affordable and easy on the wallet hatchback. If you are looking at your first car or even if you are upgrading from an Alto then you should check this car at a dealer near you. It is the quintessential family hatchback with loads of space and an easy to drive character.
Photography By: Mohd Nasir