The last couple of years have been trying, to say the least, for Honda Cars India. First, the City, a star performer for Big ‘H’ since its inception, lost its crown to India’s leading car manufacturer, and then the seven-seater BR-V sunk like a rock without making any impression at all in the market, so therefore, its safe to say that the year 2017 is a bit of litmus test for the Japanese automobile maker. Recently, with the launch of the facelift City, Honda has started turning the wheels of change, but it is the all-new WR-V that they will be keeping a close eye on and hoping that this will help revive their glory days. This new urban crossover may have joined the party late and will certainly have its hands full against the likes of the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai i20 Active and the class leader Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, but if they can price the WR-V correctly then it could give its competition some sleepless nights.
The first logical question that comes to the mind, is the WR-V a facelifted Jazz with jacked up ground clearance? It is and it isn’t. I apologise for creating a 'to be or not to be' scenario. The WR-V is based on the Jazz platform and certainly holds resemblance to it, but it's actually 44mm longer, 40mm wider, 57mm higher and the wheelbase is extended by 25mm. I know I’m playing the numbers game a bit too much, but the geek inside me wanted to make things very clear that Honda have taken pains in actually launching a new product.
If Looks Could Kill
The WR-V is unapologetically very quasi-SUV looking from the front. To be honest, one would have a tough time mistaking it for a Jazz. We are happy to say that the WR-V rips apart the Jazz’s boy next-door look and sports an aggressive front grille with a thick in-your-face chrome band running across it. Honda have also added bold creases on the bonnet running all the way down to the headlamps, additional body kit on the lower lip of the nose and around the fog lamp area and bash plates underneath the front and the rear bumpers. Also the swept back headlamps now boast of LED day time running lights. Coming to the side profile, this is where you realise you’re looking at the Jazz. But to be fair, Honda have tried to change this also by adding additional body clad, roof rails, bigger 16-inch alloys with wider 195mm tyres compared to the Jazz’s 175mm and of course, much improved ground clearance of 188mm (Jazz’s 165mm). The WR-V also sports beautiful elongated tail lights.
Time and time again, Honda's been criticised for not upping its game when it comes to cabin and comfort features. Well, after the 2017 City receiving a lot of goodies, Christmas has come early as the WR-V too gets all these features starting from the 7-inch infotainment touchscreen. It’s actually more of a smart-tainment system as it runs on Android Operating system and is equipped with MirrorLink, which ensures you can easily sync your smart phone to the system, irrespective of the operating system. The list doesn’t stop here as it also comes with satellite navigation system with real-time traffic updates, has in-built 1.5GB of memory space and offers Wi-Fi support. The WR-V rear camera offers multi-views, which is a boon in choked cities where parking can be quite a tough task. When it comes to connectivity, the WR-V has multiple options. Apart from the standard 12 Volt socket, USB and now HDMI ports housed beneath the climate control touch screen, there’s an additional USB port and socket neatly tucked in the armrest compartment where a tablet or any other device can be charged. The top variants of the WR-V, in both petrol and diesel, come with sunroof, a first in the segment. What is not standard is the Start/Stop ignition button and Cruise Control. This is reserved only for the diesel top trim.
When it comes to cabin space, passenger comfort and leg space, the WR-V leads the way. The cabin interiors are available in two dual-tone colour trims – black and blue or black and silver. Both the seats in front and rear are large, wide and supportive. The boot space's increased from Jazz’s 354 litres to 363 litres. The flexible ‘Magic Seats’ in the top variant Jazz is not available in the WR-V at all.
WR-V is powered by the tried and tested 1.2-litre petrol and the 1.5-litre diesel engines. The former pumps out 89bhp, which is sufficient for commuting in the city. At low revs, the 1.2-litre provides enough poke for the WR-V to negotiate peak urban traffic without a fuss. Once the WR-V hits the mid-range power band, the motor tends to play hard to get and refuses to respond. Honestly, this can be frustrating because overtaking becomes quite a challenge. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, which sports a new gear knob. It shifts up effortlessly and the light clutch ensures that the driving experience is stress free. Unlike the Jazz, the WR-V will not come with a CVT automatic transmission.
The 99bhp 1.5-litre diesel has a linear pick up and if you step on the gas, it quickens the pace without any complaints. Being responsive at low revs and a free-revving cruiser on the highway, the diesel WR-V is definitely an all-rounder. The 6-speed manual gearbox still feels mechanical and notchy, but the good news is that Honda have managed reduce the engine noise, therefore, the cabin is now a quieter place to be in.
Honda have raised the WR-V’s suspension without compromising in the handling department. It still manages to exuberate confidence while taking turns. A little bit of body roll can be felt, but nothing so hairy that will make you press the panic button. As the WR-V gets larger 16-inch profile tyres, it easily carpets potholes and cushions the thud a lot better than the Jazz.
Everything will come down to brass tacks and we really do hope that Honda gets the pricing right as the WR-V is quite an impressive urban crossover. It manages to tick mark a lot of boxes like good looking exteriors, smart and comfortable cabin with plenty of features, big and supportive seats with loads of leg and shoulder room and a big boot. Both engines are extremely fuel efficient as Honda claims the 1.2-litre petrol will return 17.5km/l and the 1.5-litre diesel in the range of 25.5km/l. The WR-V comes in two trims in both diesel and petrol. The diesel variants are price at Rs 8.70 lakhs and Rs 9.99 lakhs, while the petrol starts at Rs 7.75 lakhs and the higher trim at Rs 8.99 lakhs. These might not be the bargain basement prices some may be hoping for, but Honda, being a premium brand, have managed to keep it well within the affordable range.
- Honda WR-V i-DTEC
- Honda WR-V i-VTEC
Engine: 1,498cc / 4-Cylinders / 16 Valves / DOHC
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual Transmission / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 99bhp @ 3,600rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 1,750rpm
Engine: 1,199cc / 4-Cylinders / 16 Valves / SOHC
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 89bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 110Nm @ 4,800rpm