Maruti Suzuki WagonR Stingray : Road Test

  • Nov 27, 2013


First introduced in the year 1999, the Maruti Suzuki WagonR has been on the Indian market for 14 years now. And in that time this spacious yet compact hatchback has gone through two face-lifts and a second generation model followed by the recently introduced Stingray edition in 2013.

The car we have here is the Stingray VXi (O) model which is the flagship variant of the Maruti Suzuki WagonR. And it has to said, that the WagonR Stingray is the best looking WagonR we have had till date. While the basic structure of the car remains the same as that of the standard WagonR, the Stingray’s front facia gets projection headlamps, a translucent front grille with blue lights inside, a large air dam in the centre of the bumper with the number plate placed at the top centre and back plastic fog lamp housings on either side of the bumper.



The inclusion of the flat rectangular headlamps has also resulted in the WagonR Stingray getting a new rectangular bonnet with contoured but even shut lines that give the front end of the car a rather smart look. The roof continues to get the corrugated lines consisting of four bold ones in the centre that run to the centreline of the car and two slender ones at either end that run from front to back.

The side profile remains much the same as that of the standard WagonR apart from the blacked out B-Pillars, side skirts and the exclusion of the black rubber beadings running along the lower portion of the doors. The Stingray continues to feature the marginally flared wheel arches and a kink in the lower section of the doors. The car also gets new 8 spoke alloy wheels with a steel rim for the spare tyre.



Around the back, the WagonR Stingray gets new clear lens tail lights with a white border on the outer edges but are the same size as the regular tail lamps. The chrome strip placed on the boot lid above the license plate holder now has the Stingray name embossed in bold and the WagonR name embossed below it on the right hand side in a smaller font. The rear bumper has the same profile as that of the standard WagonR’s apart from the inclusion of a rear skirt.



Step inside and you are greeted by a familiar WagonR cabin with the large seats with wide cushions which combined with the tall seating position provide good under thigh support. That said, we feel the front seats could have better side support to stop you from rolling about while cornering at speeds. One however, has to acknowledge the high-set driving position of the WagonR that allows the driver to have a commanding view out of the car, something that is often lacking in a hatchback.



The dashboard is identical to that of the standard WagonR apart from the instrument cluster that gets a blue colour theme with ‘Stingray’ written in the centre of the speedo, which looks a bit down market in what is otherwise an acceptable cabin with dashes of chrome on the side air vents and door handles. The stereo has easy to read and large buttons and the big control knob is convenient for turning the system on and off as well as to control the volume. The HVAC controls are the same rotary knobs that feel reasonably well built. Quality of plastics is average and there is plenty of storage space with the dual glove boxes and cup holders that slide out of the dash at either end. However, the lack of a bottle holder and the slim map pockets on the doors and don’t help either. The only place then to store a bottle would be the single seat back pocket behind the front passenger. The WagonR Stingray has acceptable boot space of 180 liters, however, the earlier generation WagonR had an even bigger boot which was a big plus point on its practicality front.



The Maruti Suzuki WagonR Stingray VXI (O) comes decently equipped with power steering, power windows all around, electric outside rear view mirrors, day/night interior rear view mirror, an integrated double-din stereo featuring CD, USB and AUX connectivity, steering mounted audio controls, leather wrapped tilt adjustable steering rear defogger and wash wipe and front fog lamps.



It would be worth mentioning that while the steering mounted audio controls are convenient they should have been back lit and the source button scans every single radio medium (FM1, FM2, FM3, AM1 and AM2) before switching from radio to CD or USB mode, this is an unnecessary and disturbing feature that can be done away with.

In terms of safety, the car gets anti-lock brakes, driver’s side airbag and crumple zones.



The Maruti WagonR Stingray, like the standard WagonR, is powered by the company’s K10 three cylinder, 1.0 liter petrol engine that develops 68PS of power @ 6,200 rpm and 90Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm. Fire up the motor and you are greeted by a smooth hum which is fairly silent and can go unnoticed in noisy conditions. What won’t go unnoticed though are the vibrations during idling. There is simply too much of it during idling and can get hard to ignore. That said, the clutch is light and while gearshifts are accurate they could have been a tad more insulated while slotting through the gears.

Slot into first gear and get the WagonR Stingray moving and all those vibrations are immediately gone and what you have is a quiet cabin and smooth engine combination that is nice to live with. Acceleration is smooth and linear while power delivery is adequate. Step harder on the accelerator pedal and there is enough oomph for a nice surge of power that continues all the way to 6,200 rpm where peak power is made. As the revs rise, the engine gets more vocal which turns to a nice sporty note above 4,500 rpm that only gets better until the limiter cuts in. The strong mid-range and the well spread torque curve means there is always adequate power so long as you keep the motor above 1,000 rpm.



The engine and gearbox complement each other well and it is easy to extract the best performance out of the car. The car can achieve its top speed of 152 km/h without having to break into a sweat. The WagonR Stingray is claimed to deliver a mileage of 20.5 kmpl. Both performance and economy owe their part to the light kerb weight of 885 kg. The electric power steering is light and has an extremely tight turning radius of 4.6 meters that allows it to make parking and maneuvering a breeze. However, the unit is devoid of any real feel and does not communicate well with the driver at speeds.

While the punchy engine belies the performance traits of this tall and spacious hatchback, the suspension setup reminds you that its been setup with a more practical approach. The McPherson struts up front and isolated trailing link at the rear combined with the coil spring setup provides for a very stable and safe ride. Naturally, its soft setup means there is a fair amount of body roll while cornering at high speeds. What is a bit of a letdown though is that despite the soft suspension setup ride comfort is not the best and bumps on the road are not as insulated as they should feel and there is quite a lot of vertical movement from the suspension over bad roads.



NVH levels are good inside the cabin, although the wheel arches could have been better insulated as you can hear the sound of driving over broken tarmac, loose soil, small pebbles or water against the body as you drive over them.

The WagonR Stingray comes with ventilated disc brakes up front and drum brakes at the rear that provide adequate bite while the anti-lock mechanism prevents the wheels from locking up under hard braking and while this is a useful safety feature I feel that the ABS system is a tad too intrusive at times and kicks in way before the wheels are going to lock up.



Overall, the Maruti Suzuki WagonR Stingray makes for a good urban run about that is practical and easy to drive like the standard WagonR. But little things can make a big difference and it’s here that the Stingray rises above its lesser sibling with its better profiled looks and those fantastic projector headlamps. They are seriously bright and provide great visibility under all lighting conditions at night, be it on dark country roads or well-lit urban streets. And despite its higher price tag (Rs 24,000 for the LXi variant to Rs 26,000 for the VXi (O) variant), I would choose the WagonR stingray over the standard WagonR because of its smarter, bolder looks and the excellent head lights which make it a better car to live with.

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