GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Suzuki Wagon R

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wagonr.jpg

SPEX

Year: 1997
Class: Kei
Type: 5-door MPV

Country: Japan ````````````````````````````````` Host: GT2 & GT4

Price: $9,726 (GT2 used lot--'97 Wagon R FT Column)
``````````$8,332 (GT4 used lot--'98 Wagon R-RR)


Length: 133.66" // Width: 58.1" // Height: 64.76"
Wheelbase: 92.9"
Overhang: 3 feet 5 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.5"
Weight: 1,807 pounds
Layout: Front Engine / All-wheel drive
Tires: 155/65R-13
F. Suspension: MacPherson. struts, coils, shox, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: isolated trailing links, coils, shox
Brakes: vented discs [F], drums [R]

Engine: 658cc DOHC inline-3
Aspiration: intercooled turbo
Fuel System: EFi
valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 2.67 x 2.37"
Final HP: ````64 @ 6,500 rpms
Fnl. Torque:
75 @ 3,500 rpms
Credits per HP: $130.18
Pounds per HP: 28.23
HP per Liter: 97.22
GT4 Idle Speed: 1,000 // Redline: 8,000 // RPM Limit: 8,500

Transmission: 3-speed auto (FT Column/GT2) // 5-speed auto
(R-RR/GT4)

0-60 mph: 18.553 seconds
0-100mph: N/A

400 M: 21.673 @ speed not available
1 KM:
41.152 @ 81 mph
 
Brakes: 100-zero: Nil

Top Speed at Redline (GT2--Wagon R FT column)
1st: 34 mph
2nd: 62 mph
3rd: 101.65 mph @ 7,300 rpms

Top Speed at Redline (GT4--Wagon R-RR)
1st: 27 mph
2nd: 46 mph
3rd: 69 mph
4th: 94.5 mph @ 7,500 rpms (drag-limited)
5th: Nil
 
 

-----------------------EXTERIOR---------------------
`
After reviewing both the Daihatsu Move CX and the Honda Life, you'd think I'd have learned a lesson. Well, think again! The Suzuki Wagon R isn't much different from either of these moving toasters...the main thing is that this review focuses on a 4WD model (the Suzuki) instead of FWDs as my other two current micro-van reviews are based on.

There are four versions of the Wagon R in GT2, and just two in the 4th game. GT2 features three used versions: the FT Column, Aero RS, and turbo RT/S. There's also a "new" van: the Wagon R-RR. In GT4, we have the '98 Wagon R-RR in the used lots, and a newer version straight from the Suzuki dealer that I'm forgetting the name of. You'd think that when terms such as "Turbo" and "RT/S" and "Aero RS" are getting thrown around that you're about to get blisters from all the heat coming off your dual-shock, right? ;)

The Wagon R is dangerously affordable to anyone just starting GT2 or GT4; and I say 'dangerously' because many used micro vans (Suzuki and other makes) are priced under $10,000. A beginner might buy one of these vehicles for its novelty, only to get frustrated by its lacks. Those with heart problems and a good sense of humor should stray from any of these vans, as he or she just might die laughing as they watch themselves bumble along in replays.

The Suzuki van features the similarly boxy design work found on other micro-vans, including four rectangular headlights. The Wagon R Aero goes a step further, as it puts the radiator grille opening off to one side, and includes a mysterious lump on the hood as well. It is also 44 pounds lighter. The Wagon R-RR found in GT2 and 4 almost looks like a miniature but sporty Plymouth Voyager! With all these different appearances, it's as though Suzuki was really trying hard to offer variety to its customers, right? Seems that way.

Well here's the reality. All these models are light and fuel-efficient, they may have funky, sporty looks, but they're also terribly underpowered. They're NOT race cars in the least! Shocked? I hate to advise readers to have to buy weight reductions for something that's already so light, but that is exactly what is often needed, should someone desire to get a Wagon to corner better and stop leaning so much.
 
...That is, unless they're just doing some Compact Car races or the Kei Cup. Who cares if the Wagon gets a little leany there?

-----------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN--------------------------

Here we have yet another 3-cylinder ‘Kei’ type motor, this time with 657 ccs of displacement. In GT2, the Suzuki Wagon R can be modified through 2 steps of turbocharging, and intercoolers are available as well. This + the usual engine modifications will raise horsepower anywhere from 155 in the turbo RT/S, to an amazingly healthy 187 in the Wagon Aero RS. The pound to power ratio falls dramatically with this kind of power, you might be shocked (assuming you're good) at how much you can get away with as you race these silly vehicles. But in the long run, they are still limited to just a few series. With these mods in place, Wagons will combat their way thru the Sunday Cup, and put up a fight in the Kei car series and a handful of other competitions.

This doesn't sound like much, but GT4 players will have things even worse! In this game, there are 3 stages of intercooled-turbocharging available. Sound good? Well, AT BEST we can eke out just under 120 bhp!!! Experienced players can still tackle a number of low-level fights in a GT4 Wagon R, but amateurs might quickly get stuck! Or bored.

Now the transmission. In some versions (like the FT Column), we're given a 3-speed! The gearing is TALL, too, creating the need for us to buy a different gearbox while we're possibly struggling to buy engine parts. And to top it off, the close and s/c gearboxes will help this van's acceleration, but they'll also LOWER its top speed! Who needs that? Other versions, like the Wagon R-RR, have a more appropriate 5-speed, but the gears are still tallish. In my GT4 track test, the Wagon R-RR struggled to make 94 mph in 4th gear, and couldn't make it to 5th since I was simulating it as an automatic. Once more power is happening, 5th gear thankfully becomes useful.

The Wagon R's stock tires (GT2) do well till we've got the horsepower up to spec 1, and then they've pretty much lost their usefulness, making sports a necessity early on. Are you adding up how much this is actually gonna cost yet? Heh heh... The one nice thing about the drivetrain is that it IS four-wheel drive. The Wagon R still handles like crap, but at least the fishtailing we'd experience with FWD micro vans is diminished. Not gone, just diminished!

There's not a whole lot we can do about the understeer, though. Learn to brake early! Learn to kill any speed you've been lucky enough to build! Speaking of brakes, the controller is the last thing you'll ever need to buy, though in a perfect world it would be a nice purchase.

-----------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------

Since we only have two games to compare, this section should be short.

GT2:
Like I said, early braking in this game will help to avoid understeer. Under power, these Wagons also express mild fishtailing, as well as vague maneuvering qualities. No surprises here, right? It's a VAN, after all. With anywhere from 5.5" to 5.7" of stock ground clearance (depending which version you got), it's a good idea to get the sports suspension package, which will lower the Wagon R and provide a bit of damping support. The other two suspensions can be bought, but this is only advisable if you're crazy about micro vans. Personally, I have no desire to put much money into any of them.

GT4:
Unless you're driving on "N" tires of any kind, you actually will not find yourself faced with many negative handling traits. Not that they don't possibly exist, it's just that the power is so low in this game (less than 120 BHP). At all times, the Wagon R-RR remains almost entirely within its range of grip...the understeer I expected never showed up unless I really screwed-up my braking. Nor is the Wagon prone to much rear-end swaying in this game, as such behavior was found in GT2. Sorry folks, there's just not much to write about here! Only in the actual Lightweight K-Cup will manuverability become an issue, as you'll need to back off the throttle more than usual to get a tighter angle thru the Motorland and Tsukuba race tracks if you're driving a Wagon R-RR.

In the World Compact Car Cup and Japanese Compact Series, the Wagon R can compete since these races aren't speedy, but (again) entry-understeer only shows up if the driver forgets to brake. Otherwise, it's not much of a prob. And by now, one's career in a Suzuki Wagon R is mostly over, anyways.

So in GT2, since the power can be raised higher, the Wagon R's AWD will help with more control and stability than FWD alone could do. But still, don't expect any miracles as you find yourself plowing into the wall past that church in Tahiti Road, or spinning out at the hairpin turn past the imitation Colisseum at Rome. And in GT4, good luck trying to get the words "Wagon R", "spin", and "plowing" in the same sentence.

PROS--------------------------------------------

1). Low price (although this is deceiving in the long run).

2). AWD drivetrain traction does help keep things under control. There is a noticeable difference between the front-drive and all-wheel drive micro vans when it comes to maneuverability & handling.

3). Engine mods take the power / weight ratio down a good deal. At least in GT2.

4). All Suzuki Wagons have a fancy flair about their appearance. There are several in GT2 to choose from. All of these can get racing bodywork, too.


CONS--------------------------------------------

1). Weak suspension / tall, boxy shape. Maneuvers like a refrigerator with wheels, despite what you've seen the sim computer competition do.

2). AWD system doesn't overcome those narrow, suckless tires, nor does it help much with understeer. In GT2 it sometimes creates understeer.

3). ....and in GT4, you won't even have to worry about understeer or other handling issues...since power never gets high enough for such issues to make a diff!

4). When stock: Poor power / bad acceleration / low top speed. When modified: Poor power (GT4 more than GT2) / bad acceleration / low speed.

5). 3 speed gearbox in some models. All gearboxes (even the 5-speeds) are set too tall. Some players might find themself dropping more money on a racing transmission than they spent on the damn van!!

6). The amount of credits you'll need to spend to get these to compete won't guarantee any easy wins on the track.

7). Noisy.

8). Many players have complained about kei cars in the game. They think there shouldn't be any at all. Can't help agreeing that there are too many, even if I like some of them.

9). Poor resale value. Hopefully the buyer didn't actually put five figures of credits into tuning & parts for this endeavor, only to be rewarded with less than $3,000 after he or she finally comes to their senses.


Published: sometime in 2004

let's drive something else instead...