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Suzuki Wagon R+ Car Review

Author: NRMA MotoringDate: 1 May 1998

The Suzuki Wagon R+ is an abnormally tall, rather short and very square-looking vehicle that tends to draw some curious looks from fellow motorists, however the design does bring a few advantages in terms of cabin space and flexibility. For the curious, yes there was a Wagon R in Japan; the R+ is the wider body version! In its overall concept, the Wagon R+ is similar to Daihatsu's Move, but the R+ is a bigger vehicle and has a larger capacity engine with four cylinders, instead of the Move's three cylinder engine.

At $13,990 for the GA version and $14,750 for the GL, the R+ is dearer than the $11,990 (manual) Move, but with its extra space and better performance, the R+ is more car for the money. Unlike the Move, which adventurously offers an automatic version, the R+ comes only with manual transmission.

Equipment levels are basic on the GA R+; for example it doesn't even have a day/night interior mirror. The GA does have a driver's airbag however, plus a tachometer, tinted glass, adjustable height front seat belt upper anchorages, front and rear head restraints, and the ability to recline or fold all seats.

The GL does a bit better, with power steering, electric front windows, central locking, extra storage compartments (including a lift-out bucket under the front passenger's seat), rear window wiper/washer, roof rails and a tailgate lift handle, but you still don't get any form of internal adjustment for the exterior mirrors.

Occupants can leave their hats on in the R+ because there's head room to spare. Front leg room is good, but rear leg space is barely adequate for adults when the front seats are set right back. With only four seating positions, all occupants have good hip space.

The seats themselves offer little in the way of lateral support and only basic levels of comfort. Access in and out of the vehicle is easy, thanks to the combination of high roof and low floor.

The seating arrangement is quite versatile, allowing a variety of load capacities for different size loads, and the tailgate opens high enough for easy loading.

At least in an unladen state, performance is better than expected. The wagon R+ has no trouble keeping up with the general traffic flow around town, and out on the open road, it copes with hills satisfactorily provided you keep the engine revs up and make liberal use of the gearbox.

As for all smaller-engined cars, overtaking manoeuvres require some planning and caution. Performanc ecan be expected to drop off when carrying a full complement of passengers and/or luggage.

The R+ proved to be frugal on fuel, returning better figures than the previously tested Daihatsu Move.

With its tall and relatively narrow body, and limited (I suspect) suspension development, the Wagon R+ is not a confident handler. Its natural environment is the city and suburbs, and in these conditions it's fine, however owners will need to be aware of its limitations should they take their R+ into more demanding conditions.

The R+ doesn't like sudden changes of direction (such as emergency obstacle avoidance) and only mildly exuberant cornering results in considerable body roll and marked understeer. Cross winds out on the open road can be expected to have an adverse effect on the Wagon R+'s stability as they strike the high, flat-sided body.


The Suzuki Wagon R+ has been a big success in Japan, with reportedly over 700,000 sold in three years, however that country's fascination with small, quirkily-styled cars doesn't necessarily translate into guaranteed popularity in Australia.

Locally, the Wagon R+'s tall, box-on-wheels appearance could deter many buyers, even though the vehicle may prove to be a useful little device when used in its intended city and suburban environment. The Wagon R+ is economical, easy to drive and park, and handy for carrying those taller loads.

However its inferior chassis dynamics and limited performance in more demanding conditions, spell an unsuitability for country driving or long distance touring.

Test vehicle supplied by Ateco Suzuki.

Quick Facts

Make Suzuki
Model Wagon R+
Category Commercial
Year 1998
Body type 5-door hatchback
Price of vehicle tested $14,750

Body design provides good space and ease of entry/exit
Low fuel consumption
Performance satisfactory in city


Handling in demanding conditions
Seats lack good support and comfort
Lack of internal adjustment for exterior mirrors

Country of manufacture Japan
Warranty 3 years, 100,000km
Models Available



$13,990 - GA
$14,750 - GL



Number of cylinders 4
Engine size 1.0 L
Induction Electronic port fuel injection
Fuel ULP


Type Manual


Wheel type Alloy (Optional)
Wheel size 13 "


Type Bridgestone
Dimensions 165/65R 13


Turning circle (measured) 10.1 m


Mass 850 kg
Length 3410 mm
Width (including mirrors) 1815 mm
Height 1705 mm
Seating capacity 4
Fuel capacity 42 litres



NRMA Theft Rating

Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best) 11

Acceleration - Test results

50 - 80km/h 8.3 secs
60 - 100km/h 11.9 secs
0 - 80km/h 10.2 secs
0 - 100km/h 17.3 secs

Fuel Consumption

Best recorded during testing 5.6 L/100km
Worst recorded during testing 6.8 L/100km
Average on test 6 L/100km


Distance to stop (from 80km/h) 32.1 metres


Interior noise at constant 80km/h 69 dB(A)

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