The Automatic Choice: Maruti Suzuki WagonR vs Hyundai Santro

  • Published On: 29 April 2019
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Which of the two tall-boy hatchbacks offer best bang for your buck with their automatic variants?

India’s two most popular tall boy hatchbacks got a makeover few months back. Both the models have got a generation change which means a fresh design, new cabin, added features and better safety.

Blue Color Maruti Suzuki WagonR vs White Color Hyundai Santro Front Profiles

With rising popularity for cars with an automatic transmission, both these models are being offered with an optional AMT (automated manual transmission) or AGS (auto gear shift) in Maruti’s lingo. But which among the two should you be looking at?

Available versions 

Blue Color Maruti Suzuki WagonR Front Profile 

Maruti offers an AGS gearbox in the mid-level and top spec versions of the WagonR. These include the 1.0 VXI, 1.2 VXI and 1.2 ZXI. As you just read, the WagonR AGS can be had in two different engine options.

In comparison, Hyundai does not offer the Santro in a true top end version, the Asta trim. Instead, the AMT Santro is only offered with the Magna and Sportz trims. This means the WagonR has a clear advantage here.

Engine options

Copper Color Hyundai Santro Front Profile 

Maruti is attracting price conscious buyers by offering the 1.0 VXI AMT model. This comes with a 1000cc, three-cylinder engine that is good for 67 bhp of power and 90 Nm of torque. These figures are comparable to the Santro’s 1.1-litre unit that produces 68 bhp of power and 99 Nm of torque. However, we do agree the Santro’s four-cylinder unit is way smoother and hence offers a better drive.

The higher spec WagonR AMT comes with a 1.2-litre unit, the same one we see in the bigger Baleno, Swift and the Dzire. This engine makes 82 bhp of power and 113 Nm of torque. Needless to say, it is way more powerful than the Santro’s unit and offers both better performance and fuel economy.

Features on offer

Blue Color Maruti Suzuki WagonR Rear Profile 

In terms of pricing, the entry level automatic models of both the cars are similarly priced. However, the WagonR earns brownie points by offering more features. This includes steering with tilt adjust, keyless entry, rear parcel tray, rear parking sensors, wheel caps and electrically adjustable outside mirrors. The Santro on the other hand tries to make up by offering steering controls and rear a/c vents.

If we compare the top spec automatic models, the WagonR is more expensive by about Rs 25,000. However, it not only offers a larger motor, but is feature packed. This includes rear parking sensors, passenger Airbag, a rear wash/wiper set-up, passenger vanity mirror and speed sensitive auto door locks. Both the cars in this version get a touch-screen interface though the WagonR misses out on rear a/c vents.

Design

Copper Color Hyundai Santro Front Profile 

As we said earlier, both the cars received a generation update and look completely different than the models they replace. In terms of dimensions, while the WagonR is longer and taller, the Santro is wider. This new Hyundai also tries harder to impress new car buyers with a wide matt-black design element integrated into the bumper. It takes time getting used to in our opinion. The WagonR on the hand plays safe and is less intimidating. Ditto for the rear design where the Santro looks muscular with a sculpted bumper as compared to the WagonR that prefers to use simpler design lines.
Sadly, none of the cars come with alloy wheels, even in the top spec versions.

The cabin

Maruti Suzuki WagonR Interiors 

The Santro definitely has a clear edge when it comes to a quality laden cabin. It has a dual tone design theme and we like the steering, and inverted clocks in the speedometer console. A retro touch are the old school side air-vents. You can also opt for the all-black cabin theme that is broken by green inserts - this is for the Diana Green exterior color. The placement of the power window switches behind the gear lever frees up more space for the front passengers. That said, the boot is smaller than the WagonR’s.

Talking of which, the cabin of the WagonR feels airier due to extra headroom and larger windows. The large speedometer dial looks chic and this car offers higher practicality too. This includes the 341-liter boot that is larger than the Santro’s 235-liter offering.

Kitna deti hai

Blue Color Maruti Suzuki WagonR vs White Color Hyundai Santro Rear Profiles 

And before we end, lets answer the important question. The WagonR offers 22.5 kmpl and 21.5 kmpl from the 1.0 and 1.2 engine options. The Santro is less efficient, delivering 20.3 kmpl from its 1.1 motor. All these figures are ARAI certified.

Verdict

Hyundai Santro Interiors 

Maruti has played the pricing card rather well with the new WagonR. It remains an easy car to drive, is more spacious and offering two different engines is a clever step. If you want a powerful automatic, one that is feature loaded, look no further.

The Santro AMT on the other hand feels more mature and the cabin offers better quality too. If you are on a budget, the Santo 1.1 offers a bigger engine (than the WagonR 1.0 VXI) and is a smoother operator too.

Either which way, you can’t go wrong with the cars here. But if a winner has to be decided, it will be the WagonR for us!

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