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Ugly Duckling


Inexpensive, functional, maximum use of space

Just look at the photograph

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Value for Money

Road Handling




Fuel consumptionExcellent

12 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (100%):
  1. paisleyman
  2. gorvifal3
  3. frkurt
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The Suzuki Wagon R+ is a car you instantly love or loathe! - I love mine!

When I told my best mate I'd bought a pre-owned one to replace my ageing Proton Persona he said 'Well you've never bought a decent car before, so why should you break the habit of a lifetime'.

I felt his comments were a bit harsh, but I could understand where he came from.

You see - the Wagon R+ is a bit like a Camel - the old joke being that it's a horse designed by a committee.

Take the overall design.

In Japan, there was a law passed recently which drew up a maximum specification for a 'small' car - high population density and overcrowded roads meant there simply wasn't the space for huge gas-guzzlers

Rather than wield the 'stick' of congestion charging and taxing drivers out of existence, they offered the 'carrot' of lower motoring costs for 'small' economical vehicles.

The car itself is very 'boxy'.

However it has an especially high headroom (I'm 5'8" and could wear a top hat inside), most of the inside space is given over to the passenger compartment (consequently the engine bay and boot are a bit cramped)

Interior trim is fairly Spartan, and feels a bit 'plasticy' but everything is fairly well laid out, the electrics and engineering are faultless, as you'd expect from a Japanese car.

The 1.3 litre engine is surprisingly responsive - probably having a lot to do with the lightweight construction of the car, and the power steering makes parking a breeze.

In town, it's perfectly suited to the 'urban cycle' - quick off the mark, handling isn't spectacular but perfectly adequate.

If you want to do the ton on the motorway, speed limits not withstanding, this probably wouldn't be your first car of choice, but it can hold 70 on a dual carriageway without too much trouble.

My primary purpose for this car is to do the 'school run' in the morning - my preferred method of transport on a personal level is by motorcycle, and this car was sufficiently cheap to consider buying, and with the money left over, buy an older 'big engine' bike (more on this in a future review).

The other purpose I want to put the car to is to go to the local rubbish tip, the rear seats (which have fairly solid backs) fold down perfectly flat, and provide a more than adequate surface to transport my junk on the one way trip to the landfill site!

Whilst performance is relatively modest, this is more than made up in terms of fuel frugality - I filled the car up a fortnight ago, with about £27 of unleaded, and over 230 miles on the odometer, I've still got a third of a tank left - that - by my reckoning, suggests it's managing the low forties in terms of MPG.

It does look a bit peculiar though!

I have a bit of a back problem, I find climbing in and out of salon cars a bit of a hassle (it's the twisting and trying to stand up thing which I have bother with) The Wagon R+ is ideal for me - the seat is virtually waist-level so rather than having to step down into the car, it's just a case of shuffling sideways to get in or out.

I have restricted movement of my left elbow, and given the choice, would have liked the gearlever to have been another two inches longer, but other than that, everything is in pretty much the right place.

There's a lot of things which could be said to be 'missing'; no sunroof, aircon, the radio was nothing spectacular (replaced that with my Sony unit - reviewed previously) however there are a couple of uncharacteristic 'extravagances' including motorised wing mirrors, and roof bars.

I park my car in a fairly narrow driveway, and find I have to 'pull in' one of the wing mirrors to get through the gate - whilst the car 'looks' small, in fact it's wider than my wife's Honda Jazz.

The styling LOOKS like a small car, in fact it's got an a*se like a cow!

If you want a relatively cheap tin box, with a wheel at each corner, and don't have a lottery winner budget to run it on, want moderately inexpensive insurance, and the satisfaction of knowing it's a straightforward no-nonsense well engineered bit of kit, the Wagon R+ is an ideal, if les than obvious choice.

A word of caution.

Like many new cars, the keys are 'chipped' - when I picked up this particular motor from the dealer they only had one key, I found I could only get replacements from the dealer (a LOT more than the fiver or so from my local key bar) and have had to try and blag an extra one! (I'll review this in the future once the issue is resolved)

Putting that irritation to one side, in terms of providing cheap, reliable and versatile transport on four wheels, you could do a lot worse!

I doubt many people would aspire to such a vehicle, but in terms of what you get for what you pay for, there really isn't anything to complain about.

(anyone who's interested in my old Proton, it's on Ebay at the moment)
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Comments about this review »

gorvifal3 17.11.2005 18:23

Sounds like a good, practical motor!

Bigbaz 23.05.2005 22:47

It wouldnt be my first chice of car but it oviously suits you so I suppose thats all that matters..Baz

Jayem 22.05.2005 14:13

I agree with with this review. I have just purchased another new Wagon R, my second,with the new VVT (veriable valve Timing) engine. CD Player.Adjustable Drivers Seat height and it still has the all important "Tuck Away" Mirriors ., plus other pleasing small alterations. Jayem.

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

Suzuki present the Wagon R+ 1.3 GL VVT-i 5dr Hatchback with 5 Speed - (Man) / 4 Speed - (Auto), Front (FWD) running...

Product details

Body Type Hatchback
Available Trims GL
Fuel Type Petrol


Listed on Ciao since 25/10/2000

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This review of Suzuki Wagon R+ 1.3 has been rated:

"very helpful" by (100%):

  1. paisleyman
  2. gorvifal3
  3. frkurt

and 21 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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