There was a time when the taxi segment was ruled by the likes of Premier Padmini and HM Ambassador. Then the advent of Maruti Suzuki began. The Japenese company started to introduce more fuel-efficient and modern cars in India. Maruti Suzuki WagonR is one of them. There is a history of more than 25 years attached to the Japenese Kei car. What is the story behind the success of this hatchback? Let’s have a look.
1993 – WagonR takes shape
The WagonR we know today was born in 1993. At that time, the first-gen was not introduced in India though. The interesting thing about the car was the door configuration. It had 2 doors on the left side and a single door on the driver’s side. It was equipped with the 660cc F6A engine that was also powering Alto and other Kei cars at that time.
By 1996, the five-door setup became more common. The facelift had the same engine option. For the transmission, the car had 3-speed automatic, 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual gearboxes as options.
Second Generation For Japan, First One For India
The second-gen Suzuki WagonR was introduced in 1998 in Japan. Within a year of the launch, it was brought to India to compete with the Hyundai Santro in 1999. The taller stance and features like power windows and power steering made it a hit in the market soon after the launch. It was powered by Suzuki’s 1.1-litre petrol engine that was capable of producing 64hp of power and a peak torque of 84Nm. The stance made it possible for tall people to fit inside the car easily. The interiors were very spacious.
In 2003, there was a minor facelift given to the WagonR. It now housed a chrome lining in the grille, body-coloured bumpers, and clear lens tail lamps. The dashboard inside also got a beige treatment with a lot of storage spaces.
In 2006, the company gave another facelift to this generation. The grille and tailgate were revamped. More chrome was added. But the major addition was the option of LPG that owners were given. Now the WagonR owners could choose petrol or LPG to run their car.
Maruti Suzuki WagonR, Second Generation
2010 marked the year for the WagonR to get second generation, 10 years after the launch. The overall length and wheelbase were increased. Safety features like ABS, airbags and fog lamps were introduced though were only limited to the top variants. WagonR 1.0 was powered by a more efficient 3-cylinder 1.0-litre K10B engine which also powered the A-Star and Alto K10 at that time. The power output of the engine was 67hp and it produced 98Nm of torque.
In 2013, this generation received a facelift. The front grille was narrowed down, bumpers were redesigned and the car had a new fog lamp housing. The Eagle Wings music system was integrated with WagonR which had USB and AUX ports.
Next year, Maruti Suzuki launched a sportier version of the WagonR named Stingray. It had more premium interiors and exterior than the Wagon R. Talking about the engine, it was the same as that of the Wagon R. All this added to the cost and the customers were not ready to pay more for the same car with just a few newbies here and there. Stingray was never able to pick up and was discontinued within 4 years in 2017. It was offered as the top-spec variant of WagonR, VXi+ as the company knew, WagonR brand is easy to sell.
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In 2015, the transmission was also upgraded. The 3-speed automatic was replaced by the 5-speed Automatic Gear Shift (AGS). This generation was continued until 2019.
Third Generation -2019
The WagonR was introduced on Suzuki’s latest “HEARTECT” platform. This platform is being used in almost all the offerings from the company at present. This made the new car lighter yet stronger. The car grew big in size, enough to fit 5 people now. The company is marketing the car as ‘The Big New WagonR’.
This was the first time Maruti gave two engine options with the WagonR. It had the 1.0-litre K10B engine option and the more powerful 1.2-litre K12M engine. This engine is able to offer a power output of 80.8hp and 113Nm of torque.
As the safety standards have been introduced in our country with more strict implementation, the WagonR came equipped with driver’s side airbag, ABS with EBD and rear parking sensors as standard.
The WagonR is also offered in a CNG option as the other offerings from the company, It is the CNG variant that is the most sought after when the taxi segment is concerned.
In 2020, the engines were upgraded to meet the BS6 emission norms that have been introduced in the country.
The Popular Taxi – WagonR
With the advent of taxi service providers like Ola and Uber in India, WagonR sales skyrocketed. Although it was already famous among the families of India, WagonR became the first choice among those who wanted to get in the micro-segment of taxis. Ola and Uber have sourced a huge number of the WagonR from Maruti Suzuki. Due to its high fuel efficiency, low maintenance cost, comfortable riding and comfortable seating, the WagonR is chosen by many taxi drivers. Moreover, due to its compact size, it is easy to manoeuvre in congested lanes and traffic.
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The popularity of WagonR seems to have no end at present with actually no proper rival in the segment. Although safety-wise, the WagonR is no good, yet the country is still not inclined towards the safety aspect a lot at present. Cars like WagonR rule the Indian roads and will continue to do so due to the affordability.
Have fun reading: 10 Forgotten Maruti Suzuki Cars In India: From SX4 To Stingray