If there is a hatchback-based crossover out there that shrieks ‘practically sufficient’, it’s the WR-V from Honda. On sale since March 2017, this mini crossover is still a newcomer in its segment which includes cars like the Hyundai i20 Active and the Toyota Etios Cross. But unlike all its rivals that are more or less the same as the hatchbacks they are based on, the WR-V is a legitimate crossover, one that’s fairly different from the Jazz. It bucks the trend with a whole new beefed up look, some high-end features and updated mechanicals over the Jazz.
Here’s how the Honda WR-V fares under our rigorous road test regime.
Design and Style
If the WR-V’s exterior look reminds you of the Jazz, that’s no mistake. The two share their platform and a strong family resemblance. Whereas the Jazz has a hint of mini-van like appearance, the WR-V is high riding and looks rugged – it does look all-new, especially when viewed head on. Honda has gone ahead with that typical SUV look with a rather high bonnet line and a tough looking bumper. The headlights, too, are entirely new and come with LED daytime running lights for added flair. At the back, there are some Jazz-inspired elements like the flat tailgate and the taillights but the rest all is new. The bumper, for instance, is neatly designed and is nowhere as busy looking as the Jazz’ which gets massive twin scoops and several creases.
The WR-V is 44mm longer, 40mm wider, and 57mm taller than the Jazz and the wheelbase is also longer by 25mm. In profile, it undoubtedly looks more robust than the Jazz despite the cab forward stance and a large glasshouse. Helping its case, of course, are the bigger 16-inch wheels, roof rails and the chunky plastic cladding.
We would like to add that the entry-level S variant loses out on quite a bit of flair – it comes with 16-inch steel wheels and fender mounted turn indicators. The VX variant, meanwhile, gets 16-inch alloys with gunmetal finish, turn indicators on wing mirrors and adds front fog lamps and chrome finished door handles. All in all, the raised and cladded WR-V won’t turn every head it passes, but its well-balanced design is enough to keep it from blending into your garage.
We are happy to report that the WR-V’s interior layout and ergonomics are based on the Jazz. This means you get the same enormous cabin with a smart looking dash and impressive visibility all around thanks to the large glasshouse. In terms of design, the all-black cabin comes with contrasting materials and is accented with silver trim bits for the air vents, steering wheel and door pads. The only noticeable change comes in the form a new gear lever which looks sporty. As for quality, it’s a well put together cabin that seems durable enough to stand the test of time; however, some soft touch plastics would have made the interior a lot more pleasing. If you value plenty of storage space, the WRV has you sorted – besides the usual cup holders ahead of the gear lever and bottle holders in all four doors, the WR-V also gets a cooled cup holder for the driver’s side. Then there’s a new centre armrest which can even fit an electronic tablet.
As they are large and well-shaped, the front seats offer good under thigh and lateral support, however, the cushioning around the contours is soft. Like the Jazz, there is no shortage of legroom or headroom at all. Also, it’s easy to find the ideal position thanks to the height adjustable driver’s seat and rake adjustment for the steering wheel. Pair that with the low-slung dashboard and the large glass house and it’s quite easy to navigate the WR-V around tight spots and in traffic.
The WR-V’s cabin isn’t as versatile as the Jazz as it doesn’t get the magic seat configuration which basically allows the rear seat base to be folded upwards. Nonetheless, rear seat space is enormous and there is always more than enough headroom even for tall passengers. The generous width and flat floor makes it a genuinely comfortable five-seater. The fuel tank placed under the front seat acts like a footrest at the back and the backrest is set at a nice angle too. Honda, however, has had to set the bench a little low to liberate more headroom. This has resulted in less than ideal amount of under thigh support. The 363-litre boot, too, is impressive and fully usable thanks to its substantial width and low loading lip.
Overall, the WR-V’s cabin is fairly well rounded, notably because of the class-leading outward visibility afforded by the big side windows. This is an open and boxy cabin and that’s going to appeal to a ton of buyers.
Safety and Equipment
The top-spec VX trim in diesel comes with climate control with touch panel, multifunctional instrument cluster, push button start, cruise control and a rear view camera with multiple angles. We would like to add that the VX trim in petrol is devoid of cruise control and push-button start. That said, the WR-V is the only model in its class to come with a sunroof. It also gets Honda’s updated infotainment system which includes a 7-inch display and a ton of connectivity options such as smartphone mirroring tech, two USB slots, 1.5GB of storage and an HDMI port. First seen in the latest-gen City, this system is a lot more intuitive than Honda’s previous AVN units, however, it still isn’t as slick to use as we would have liked. The inbuilt navigation, too, is slow to respond overall.
Engine, Performance and Braking
Moving on to the business end of the WR-V, Honda has retained its familiar petrol and diesel engines, with 5-speed and 6-speed manual gearbox options. Starting off with what’s proved to be the more popular of the two, the diesel-powered model gets a 1498cc, 4-cylinder turbo unit which makes 100bhp and 200Nm of torque. One area where the diesel Jazz disappoints big time is in the suppression of noise, vibration and harshness. For the WR-V, Honda says they have worked on reducing the overall NVH levels. So has it worked? Not entirely. Although there’s less engine noise filtering into the cabin compared to the Jazz, it’s still no cone of solitude. The WR-V, in fact, is not as refined as any of its rivals and the diesel clatter is evident and loud all the time. It fights back, though, with a fairly linear power delivery despite the strong mid-range punch. Putting out 100bhp and 200Nm of torque, the WR-V is one of the quicker vehicles in its segment. While it feels peppy around town thanks to a strong bottom end and good midrange punch, it becomes noisy once you exceed city speed limits. Thankfully, the 6-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use – it allows for super slick shifts and is complemented by a perfectly weighted clutch pedal.
Straight line performance is strong, and the WR-V manages a 0-100kph time of 13.74 seconds despite being fitted with a rev lock which basically forbids you from dumping the clutch without having to bog down. Nonetheless, 20-80kmph in third and 40-100kmph in fourth takes 13.87 and 15.83 seconds respectively, figures that are right about average for this class.
After the diesel, the petrol powered WR-V feels pleasantly refined though we would like to add that this 1.2-litre motor is pretty refined in isolation, too. Making 89bhp of power and 110Nm of torque, this version of the WR-V is decently quick around town. The engine, however, is nowhere as punchy as some of the rivals and the overall response can be best described as 'relaxed' and while there are no flat spots throughout the rev range, the WR-V does what it's told to do, just rather casually. Again, the 5-speed gearbox (with lower final drive compared to the Jazz) is a sweet thing – because the engine isn’t as punchy as some of its rivals, this revised unit makes good use of the power on offer with smooth shifts. This engine’s lack of torque is evident under hard acceleration – 0-100kmph takes over 15 seconds seconds and in-gear, too, the WR-V petrol takes its own sweet time to make progress.
Ride and Handling
Unlike most of its rivals, the WR-V’s dynamics are noticeably different compared to the hatch its based on. For starters, it’s got a longer wheelbase and bigger tyres compared to the Jazz and as one would expect, the ground clearance is higher, too. All things considered, the WR-V rides noticeably better than the Jazz – the suspension is cushier over sharp-edged potholes and less clunky too. The damping is excellent, notably at low speeds and over rough inner-city roads, conveniently just the sort of activity most of the crossovers will do most of the time. At higher speeds, the ride quality is comfortable for the most part as the rebound is controlled enough to stop the car from feeling floaty over undulations. That said, the ride does get noticeably bouncy when encountering multiple bumps at high speeds. The only other downer here is the excessive engine noise (in the diesel) and some wind noise.
Through corners the WR-V feels stable and predictable, with decent traction but the 195-section tyres (narrowest in this class) can run out of grip and squeal when pushed too hard. The electric-assisted steering is not the lightest at low speeds, but it is ideally weighted once you are up and running, with sufficient feel close to centre.
Price and Fuel Economy
On-road prices for the WR-V range between Rs 8.91 lakh (for entry-level S petrol) and Rs 11.67 lakh for the top-spec VX diesel. The i20 Active range, meanwhile, is priced between Rs 7.75 lakh and Rs 11.64 lakh. As for fuel efficiency, the diesel WR-V is quite efficient, returning 14.4kmpl in the city and 19.6kmpl on the highway. The petrol WR-V, on the other hand, is expectedly less efficient, returning 11.54kmpl and 15.71kmpl under the same cycle.
The way we see it, the Honda WR-V is a subtly impressive city runabout. It certainly looks the part, has a huge cabin with loads of space and a pair of tried and tested engines. The excellent visibility, light controls and a spacious rear seat give it an edge over the competition. It’s not all roses, though – the diesel engine is still too noisy, the high speed ride over bumps is bouncy and the cabin lacks the finesse that you will find in the i20 Active. So what’s the bottom-line? As a practical family hauler, the WR-V ate up most of what we threw at it, and the improvements over the Jazz are more than worthwhile. All in all, the WR-V is all about efficiency and practicality and you get plenty of it.
Pictures by Kapil Angane
Click here to read our comparison test between Honda WR-V, Maruti Vitara Brezza and Ford EcoSport
|CAR NAME||Honda WR-V|
|Variant||VX MT Diesel||VX MT Petrol|
|Displacement||4 cyls, 1498cc||4 cyls, 1199cc|
|Valve gear||4 valves per cyl, DOHC||4 valves per cyl, SOHC|
|Power||100bhp at 3600rpm||90bhp at 6000rpm|
|Torque||200nm at 1750rpm||110nm at 4800rpm|
|Power to weight||82.22bhp per tonne||81.81bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||166.11Nm per tonne||106.76Nm per tonne|
|Gearbox||6-speed manual||5-speed manual|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Construction||Monocoque, four-door hatchback|
|Type||Rack and pinion, electric power steering|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING
||VX MT Diesel VX MT Petrol|
|20-80kph in 3rd gear||13.87s||-|
|40-100kph in 4th gear||15.83s||-|
|Tank size||40 litres||40 litres|
|Seat base length||460mm|
|Seat base length||470mm|