‘What’s good in a Wagon R?’ asked a friend once.

I said, ‘Space.’

Space… is what I like best in this car. When you’re inside, you’re certainly never claustrophobic. The car is literally maintenance-free and isn’t demanding at all. It can rush through a crowd, it can zip up the mountains, it can take on off-roading that isn’t severe, and it can carry more load than you can imagine.

I love the way the boot of this hatch-back always has space for more and more stuff… and you’re left with a surprised look every time.

Manoeuvrability is another feature that can fill the heart of any Wagon-R driver with pure unadulterated joy. You can get into cramped parking lots, find a lovely spot that moves ahead even in a traffic jam, and the car is yet big enough to carry three passengers in the rear seat with ease.

The AC has gone on since 2001 without whining for a repairman, the engine is still pristine, the body too retains its shine despite scratch marks by naughty boys!

So is there anything more that the company can do to improve this car?

I remember once wishing for all the vital features in a higher model to somehow reach the base model. And this is actually not such a bad idea… as features tend to move from being vital to being ornamental. As more of features get inducted, the ornamental of today becomes vital… and the cycle moves on.

Therefore, it is time that even the base model of Wagon R gets a power steering and power windows. The reason is simple: these are no longer little add-ons to start a gonadal giggle in customers and make them pay more. These are necessities that help the people inside the car drive it more confidently and with more safety.

The pick-up is not what dream pick-ups are made of… but then in city driving there is no need to really go vrooming ahead of cantankerous auto-rickshaws, right? So if the pick-up gets revved up, great… if not, I’m still happy.

Aha! It is about time that the company thought of adding the charging kit and the audio player without wanting people to go for a higher version. So what I am trying to say is that car manufacturers shouldn’t be so obsessed about creating too many categories with cosmetic differences… have less variations and I’m sure they’ll sell more. Ultimately, what matters is consumer happiness… and instead of gunning for more and more variations, manufacturers need to think about less number of variations and better features for them.

‘What about exteriors?’ is a question that everyone asks.

I have absolutely no issues with the way the headlight is placed or the way the tail-light is positioned. No issues with the colours nor with the curves and the contours. The only thing the manufacturer mustn’t fiddle with is the height… it is just purrfect.

Listen, I bought this hatchback because the height and the placing of the front number plate fascinated me. So these are things that must not go… and must not be unnecessarily gifted to other models like the Zen variants. Why spoil the unique identity of a Zen and make it look like a wagon R. This is absolutely stupid!

‘What about interiors?’

Get more from the digital world… it is all fast becoming common place now. I mean, why deprive a Wagon R from a few strategic controls on the steering itself? Or why snatch away a sensually curvaceous dashboard… or… well, there are a lot of features that will obviously never be a part of the Wagon R because of the price bracket it is in but at least give it defogging abilities for the rear wind-shield, man! What about nice modernistic carpets for the floor? Or an extra AC vent for the passengers in the rear seat?

Am I asking for automatic seat adjusters that slide the seat/s in-out-up-down at the touch of a button? No. Am I demanding those quixotic wipers for the headlights? No. Am I telling you to add reversing cameras and a sun-roof? No. I am just asking for itsy-bitsy features that will give the car owner the sort of thrill that he thinks he deserves. After all, he has bought a wagon R!

‘How will you, as one who has driven the Wagon R for years now, rate the experience?’

I have driven a 40 lac Volvo XC60 too… and believe me, it was no better when we went over the sort of speed breakers that the Indian driver encounters every day. So this means, the Wagon R is a sweet little car with a smooth and hassle-free driving experience! Of course you cannot go at 100 kmph and not expect the car to rattle a bit… or tremble slightly when a massive truck roars past… or give an inaudible sigh when you take it up a steep in the first gear. It is a small hatch-back with a lot of space… and it has never asked to be compared to SUVs, LUVs, and XUVs…

Let me sum up my experiences in a two-line couplet:

My Wagon R has been with me for years
And I still drive it without any fears!

My Wagon R...

My Wagon R…

 

 

Arvind Passey
04 June 2014