The WR-V is powered by Honda’s familiar 1.5-litre diesel engine which makes 98.6bhp. As soon as you set off, you’ll notice there’s precious little throttle lag to speak of and power delivery is quite smooth and linear. Of course, there is some throttle delay below 1600rpm but the large capacity motor does a good job even when off-boost. Past 1600rpm there’s plenty of grunt and it pulls strongly up to about 3,800rpm, after which the power gradually scales up as it hits its very conservative 4,200rpm rev limit. Acceleration is quite strong, and the WR-V manages a 0-100kph time of 13.74 seconds (the WR-V has a rev-lock which doesn’t allow full-bore launches). What helps the WR-V further is the six-speed gearbox. With more ratios to play with, as compared to the EcoSport and the Brezza, the gearbox makes the most of the engine’s available power and the WR-V never feels wanting for more power. The improved sound insulation has worked wonders in making the WR-V cabin quieter than the Jazz. But still the sharp clatter from the all-aluminium diesel motor is always there and still is a drawback with all diesel Honda cars.
The EcoSport's 1.5-litre diesel motor produces 98bhp and as soon as you crank the engine it feels much smoother than the Honda, especially on the move. Power delivery is linear and this motor pulls well from as low as 1500rpm with a stronger tug around the 2,000rpm mark. That’s not to say the engine is free from any power delay. Driving uphill, you will need to keep shuffling between third and second gears to maintain momentum. However, the smartly chosen gear ratios do mask this deficiency quite well. But being the heaviest of the lot, it takes a toll, especially in outright acceleration. It takes 13.36 seconds to reach 100kph and in-gear times are on the slower side too. Thanks to the torquey nature of the motor, drivability figures are much better as it takes 13.31 for 20-80kph in third gear and 16.29 seconds for 40-100kph in fourth.
The Brezza on the other hand uses the tried and tested 1.3-litre Fiat-sourced multijet diesel unit. Producing 89bhp, this motor has the most amount of turbo-lag at low speeds. As a result, while driving at lower speeds, you have to constantly shift the gearbox to make smooth progress. But once past 2000rpm, this motor comes alive and it has the strongest mid and top end of the three. This engine is pretty free revving too and as a result the Brezza feels at home out on an open road. Where this motor shows its age is in terms of refinement. It is the noisiest engine of the three and as you go up the rev range, the motor sounds strained and rough. Thanks to its light kerb weight, the Vitara Brezza posted the quickest acceleration times of the three. The 100kmph mark is dispatched in an impressive 12.78 seconds and in-gear times of 12.87 second for 20-80kmph in third gear and 15.98 second for 40-100kmph in fourth gear are competitive too.
Each of these compact SUVs are quite stiffly sprung and this shows in the way they drive. When driven over potholed surfaces, you can hear their suspension working away, but more so in the EcoSport where the dampers tend to bottom-out and make a thudding sound. The feather weight Brezza never feels settled at low speeds either and over less than perfect surfaces, the occupants are met with constant body movement. At higher speeds, things do improve but the Brezza never feels as comfortable as the other two do. The WR-V, on the other hand, stays surprisingly composed over worst of potholes and the increase in ride height and taller springs have really helped. Like in the Brezza, you do get sharp body movement over undulating surfaces, but it never feels uncomfortable. Even on the highway, the WR-V feels composed and straight-line stability is good. The EcoSport on the other hand feels even more rock solid at high speeds and has the most comfortable ride on the highway.
Where the Brezza struggles to take rough roads, it functions best on winding roads. The light weight and stiff suspension helps the Brezza take the corners with minimal body roll and quick directional changes are dealt with great body control. The accurate steering helps you point the car exactly where you want it to go and overall, it is good fun. The WR-V has sorted dynamics too, but it feels a bit disconnected and there is more body roll too. EcoSport’s tall proportions and heavy weight means it leans the most through corners. On the plus side, it has the most communicative steering and through long sweeping bends, the Ford gives the driver lot of confidence. Through a series of sharp turns is where the EcoSport struggles to keep up with the Brezza as you feel its girth.