The new Wagon R joins our fleet and promptly gets to a busy city life with our chief photographer.
The timing couldn’t have been better. The new Maruti Wagon R joined our long-term fleet around the middle of May and it was offered to me for use. I readily accepted it as I was without a car since my previous long-termer, the Maruti Ignis, went back last December. The sweltering heat made commuting by bike or train a little tiring, and now the rains were here too. But the ultra-spacious WagonR made it easier for me.
This third-generation hatch seems to be quite the ideal city car. It’s small enough to drive through congested city traffic and easy to park in reverse with the help of the rear camera. I must say that I got quite a few enquiries about the new WagonR at traffic signals and mall parking lots, and all but one were from second-generation Wagon R owners.
NOISY AC: Air-con fan is considerably noisy at full speed.
For this class of car, I was quite impressed with the refinement of the interiors, which is something I did not pay attention to on the media drive, as my priority then was to shoot all the details that were needed for the magazine story. I find the Wagon R to be very practical in many ways. The engine feels very smooth and it is also pretty quiet at idle and under normal driving. Even though it is not the most soundproof cabin, I cannot hear the engine, except for when I rev it for a quick overtake. The air-con blower, however, is noisy at full speed, but the system cools the spacious cabin brilliantly even in the afternoon heat. The light steering makes it nice to drive but it needs constant correction to keep the car in a straight line. I like the slightly high-set seats all around. It suits my driving position, giving the impression of a bigger car, and more importantly, it provides better all-round visibility. A few features I really like are the retractable door mirrors (only available on the ZXi variants), spacious door pockets on all four doors that can hold one-litre bottle, and the ‘Door Open’ warning. I found the warning to be especially useful, as the doors do not shut clean and need to be done so with a firm push.
CONSTANT CHECK: The steering needs constant correction to keep a straight line, even at city speeds.
I have driven the Wagon R mostly in the city, and mileage has been 12kpl, but I have also done a bit of a highway journey from my home in Thane to a place called Apti near Titwalla. In the past, due to the Wagon R’s boxy design, I have been blown around from lane to lane on the highway. This new one, however, seems better planted and more comfortable on the highway. You can relax behind the wheel a bit more, and when the time comes to overtake, it has the power to execute the manoeuvre effortlessly. Still, directional stability is not as good as the Ignis, which seemed far more superior in this respect.
LIVELY MILL: Zippy 1.2L engine revs nicely and helps in quick overtaking.
What the Wagon R does really well is give you plenty of space – which was the case even with the older model – improved comfort and it feels so at home in the city. All said, it is a considerable improvement over the previous Wagon R in all respects. I’m looking forward to driving it a lot more as long as it is with me. I hope to be able to make a weekend trip away from the city, and the monsoon season should make it even better. And that should be another good test for this decent little hatch.
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