22 April 2022

More than an old car #190: Suzuki Wagon R+

The 90s was a game-changing period for Japanese cars: the variety of vehicles churned out continues to fascinate the world even till today. Amidst it all, there were many others that flew under the radar such as this 1998 Suzuki Wagon R+!

First introduced in 1993, the Wagon R was revolutionary in the mini vehicle market. Until then, most of them were either short or uncomfortable (as they were based off commercial vehicle models). The Wagon R featured raised seats, which reduced the feeling of oppression without the need to bend one's legs, and a single step was also incorporated which made entry and exit smooth. It also shared parts with many other Suzuki vehicles in the name of cost control, which was partially inspired by Volkswagen. Its name is a wordplay on 'wagons also are', since there are sedans but there are also wagons. The R also stood for 'revolutionary' and 'recreation', which made reference to the reason why the car was designed in the first place.

Initially, the Wagon R was only available in '1+2 door' format (i.e. without the rear right door) and came without headrests. The regular 5-door version was introduced in 1996 and a facelift was applied to the front end in 1997. It was also around this time that a wider and longer version known as the Wagon R+ / Wagon R Wide was introduced. Initially, it had four horizontal slats for the front end, before it was facelifted in 1998 to resemble that of the regular Wagon R. No longer a kei car, the Wagon R+ was powered by a 996 cc K10A i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 140 km/h. It was 3410 mm long and weighed 845 kg, with a fuel consumption of 7.6 litres / 100 km

Production of the 1st-generation Wagon R+ ended in 1999, where it was succeeded by the next-generation model (also known as the Solio). The R+ was sold here in 1998, and it was around this time that the COEs for small cars was in short supply. There are about 3 units that still remain; this particular one was scrapped shortly after I saw it. Though it may look inconspicuous at first glance, there is something about its ordinariness that has always caught my eye. Its van-like shape belies its age and makes the realisation all the more better. Perhaps you will be able to catch the remaining ones on the road someday!

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