It's high sacrilege if you don’t plan a road trip to Lonavala during Mumbai monsoons. That’s exactly what I did last month with our Wagon R – a couple of times to be honest. Throw in a few more Mumbai-Pune runs to the mix, and our automatic Wagon R saw a fair amount of highway action last month. And there are both good and not so good things to report.
As mentioned earlier, it was a heavy downpour in the past month and the entire Mumbai-Pune expressway was drenched. And so, the high-speed stability of the Wagon R wasn’t something to write home about. At highway speeds, the rather light and direct steering tends to get slow to respond. And it is not confidence-inspiring to push this city car beyond triple-digit speeds. Meanwhile, in tight ghat sections or on long sweeping bends, you can feel that excessive body roll as well owing to the tall height. But that’s only an issue if you are a bit enthusiastic behind the wheel. For everything else, it’s just fine.
Even the engine’s performance is decent, to say the least. It’s a known fact now that Maruti’s K12 engine is a peppy performer. And combining it with the lightweight of the Wagon R means that the boxy hatch can accelerate to triple-digit speed without much hassle. Meanwhile, the steep uphill climb on traffic infested ghats wasn’t troublesome for the Wagon R either. Once off the brakes, there’s enough grunt from the engine to push the Wagon R up the slope with little to no throttle inputs. And even when I encountered ridiculous traffic in Lonavala, the Wagon R didn’t roll back on inclines even as it crawled in stop-and-go congestion.
That said, the ride quality also proved to be satisfactory. Although on the softer side, it doesn’t bounce excessively on the road undulations. However, if there are sharp ridges on the road, or if you miss spotting those rumblers on the highway, they do send thuds inside the cabin which might be uncomfortable for the passengers, especially in the rear seat. While talking about the back seat, it is worth mentioning that the occupants there had no complaints even during long hauls, courtesy of roomier backbench and well-sorted ergonomics. The boot space of 341 litres once again proved to be adequate for weekend getaway luggage of four.
Likewise, the driver’s seat is ergonomic as well. They are well-cushioned to be in for a longer duration of time. There are no adjustable headrests though, but the large dimensions mean they provide ample support. Combined it with the provision of dead-pedal, large instrument cluster and easy-to-reach centre console certainly helps when you are covering long distances between two stops. The bottle holders on the doors are another convenient feature. One downside though is the vertical air-con vent placed directly behind the steering wheel as it needlessly just blows air on the left hand and isn’t very useful otherwise.
Other things that are worth mentioning are the headlamps. Although they don’t set any benchmark, the illumination they provide on lightless highways is adequate. Also, the day-night setting on the inside rearview mirror might at first appear to be a diminutive feature but it proved to be very helpful on the highway. Maruti has also provided the top-spec model with rear windscreen wipers and washers. These also proved to be handy on highways especially to clean out the grime collected during the rains.
Then there are the brakes. I’d have prefered a little more initial bite on them since it appears that the brakes have somewhat faded as compared to when we first received the car. But that’s understandable since this is an automatic. Lastly, the highway runs saw a bump in the fuel efficiency too as a Wagon R AMT managed to return a little under 16kmpl.
So our blue-eyed boy once again proved to be hassle-free, practical, spacious and a decent performer. Overall, the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R 1.2 AMT is an easy car to drive, be it in the confines of the city or on the long stretches of tarmac on the highways.
Fuel Efficiency: 15.7kmpl
Pictures by - Kaustubh Gandhi
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