Wagon-R gets younger with a new AMT

EASY-DRIVE! The Wagon-R AGS is a combination of ample space, price and efficiency it offers

Wagon-R gets younger with a new AMT
When Maruti Suzuki launched the tall boy hatchback Wagon-R in India, 16 years ago, it didn’t take long for one of the ‘cutest’ babies from India’s largest car manufacturer to win many hearts in the country.

Conceived in 1993 as a kei car (a category of small cars in Japan), Suzuki’s Wagon-R grew to be a family car in every sense, with the ‘R’ in the name standing for Recreation. As it was, across the Japanese and global markets, even in India, the Wagon-R was one of the first cars to use the tall wagon or tall boy design, with the car unusually possessing a tall stance, a short bonnet, which culminated into a vertical hatch.

The unique selling proposition of Wagon-R is the combination of ample space, price and efficiency it offers. The numbers speak for themselves, over 17 lakh units of Wagon-R have been sold till date since 2000.

Come 2016, the Blue-eyed Boy of Maruti Suzuki, the Wagon-R, is set to wow loyal customers, once again. In a bid to help customers, who want a hassle-free driving experience in chaotic traffic conditions, which is so commonplace today, the latest offering on the Wagon-R is the introduction of an auto gear shift (AGS) or automated manual transmission (AMT) technology.

AGS transmission will be available in VXi variants of both models. In addition, driver and co-driver airbags and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) will be offered as an option across all variants, including the base one. It is a wise decision by the company to offer the Wagon-R AMT variant in only the top-end VXi, which well compliments a host of other features, including air-conditioning, electronic power steering, audio system, front and rear fog lamps, keyless entry, all four power windows, and electrically adjustable mirrors among others, all wrapped in a juicy price point of Rs 4.88 lakh.

Exterior
The term Blue-eyed Boy was coined owing to the front facia having blue tint halogen headlamps, along with a chrome accented radiator grille. The bumpers in the front and rear, and outside door handles are all painted in the body colour, besides the outside rear view mirrors (fitted on both driver and co-driver side) that can be adjusted electrically.

The moon-rock silver roof rails add a dash of style, while, the side profile is elementary, featuring flared wheel arches, full wheel-covers with the Suzuki ‘S’ badge, moulding and amber-coloured indicators. The rear gets chrome finishing and crystal effect tail lamps.

Interior
In terms of interiors, there is not much visible change compared with the existing models. The dual-tone interior colour theme featuring black and beige shades envelopes the cabin.

Seats are covered with two-tone 3D effect upholstery, while the gear knob, door handles and instrument cluster are embellished with silver finish. The fabric door trims look sober, while the front and rear sides of the cabin get three position lamps.

A full-flat reclining and sliding front seats, and 60:40 split rear seats feature adjustable head rests. Foldable assists grips are present in front and rear (3), while a sun-visor for driver comes with ticket holder and co-passenger side sun-visor gets a vanity mirror. Speakers are embedded in all four doors for surround sound, while a 12-V power socket is resent in the front of the cabin.

Other vital features like day/night inside rear view mirror, electronic power steering with adjusting and tilt functions, air conditioner with heater and rotary controls are placed inside.

Cup holders are provided in the right, left and on floor console. If there is a major differenetiator with the Wagon-R, it is the legendary storage space it offers; a luggage tray, passenger side under seat tray, back pocket on front passenger seat, map pockets on front seats and glove-box are provided inside. Other than the above mentioned features, the variant also comes with a foldable utility hook, amber speedometer illumination and an audio system with digital clock with USB port.

Let’s spin the car
The company is using the same engine available on the manual variant. The proven 1.0-litre (998cc) K-series petrol engine that pumps out a reasonable power of 67bhp and 90Nm@3,500 rpm, ideal to punt around town.

On a sunny Friday, we try our hands on the AMT Wagon-R. We begin with a city drive, testing the car’s versatility in Bengaluru’s infamous bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The frequency of gears changing and usage of clutch every now and then, is cumbersome, However, thanks to the AMT on board, the pleasure of driving is peaceful, irrespective of the traffic.

Switch on the engine, keep your left leg to rest, and use the right leg for brakes and accelerator. Full marks to electronic power steering and a turning radius of 4.6 metres, one can drive with using fingertips.

With five people on board, once we hit the highway, you realise something which is interesting. Even the rear passengers could feel the gear shift. The jerk you get in gear shifts is difficult to digest.

The car picks up momentum in the fourth and fifth gear, and highway cruising is great. However, the big lag here is that if you are driving at the speed of 120 km/hr, and suddenly need to brake, the power drops suddenly and to come back to that original speed, you have to literally come to the left side and hit the throttle all over again. As has always been, even the Wagon-R AMT is built for city driving. Trust me, the journey of 250 km was never-tiring. As per the ARAI, the vehicle delivers a mileage of 20.5 kmpl.

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