After missing out on the action in the growing compact SUV space, Honda is finally ready with the WR-V, a compact crossover. We've driven it in the beautiful city of Goa and have a clear answer on whether the WR-V has what it takes to compete with biggies such as the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Ford EcoSport.
Honda WR-V Design
The WR-V is based on the Jazz platform and hence one can see traces of the Jazz in the WR-V. However, this car has a new design that is aimed at giving the car a more muscular and dynamic look. The front bumper has got sharp creases and and a wide chrome grille, which along with LED daytime running lamps (DRLs) gives the front a premium look.
On the side, the higher ground clearance gives a tall stance of the vehicle, which helps it look more appealing. The 16-inch wheels with gun metal finish along with body cladding and roof rails add a hint of rugged appeal to the overall design. At the rear one finds angular tail lamps, which extend into the bootlid and here too there's a thick stripe of chrome.
Overall, the WR-V doesn't look as much of an SUV as some of its competitors do but it surely comes across as a dynamic and youthful looking car, which looks premium as well. One could argue that the interplay of creases on the body panels gives the car a very busy design but the road presence of the WR-V surely cannot be doubted.
Honda WR-V Interior & Features
Once inside the cabin of the WR-V, it doesn't take much time to realise that this is the most spacious car in its segment. The dashboard design is similar to that of the Jazz but there are some key differences, the main being the 7-inch touchscreen, which Honda calls DIGIPAD. This is the same unit that was introduced on the 2017 Honda City recently. The unit provides USB, HDMI, Bluetooth and MirrorLink connectivity. Controls for the climate control are operated by a feather touch panel, which looks classy and is easy to operate. People opting for lower variants will not get the DIGIPAD and feather touchscreen. Instead, they'll get manual knob controls for the AC along with a different colour scheme for the dashboard.
The steering wheel gets buttons for audio, telephone and cruise control and the unit itself can be adjusted for rake and reach up to 40 mm. Material quality is good in the WR-V and the plastic bits have a good tactile feel. Front seats are spacious and offer good side support and back support in addition to ample cushioning. There are large door pockets upfront, which can easily swallow 1 litre bottles and still leave space for some smaller objects. The centre console too has enough space for 2 beverages and your wallet and mobile phone. There are two 12 V power outlets at the front, one in the centre console and one inside the armrest.
Since the WR-V's wheelbase is longer by 25 mm than the Jazz, one is greeted to loads of space at the rear. Even with the driver seat pushed all the way back, a 6 ft 2 inches tall fellow journalist was able to sit without his knees making contact with the front seat. The seat bench too is comfortable and offers good recline angle and under thigh support. Since the WR-V is a tall vehicle, headroom to is plenty, making the cabin fit for those with a larger body frame.
Adding to the airy cabin is the sunroof, a first in its segment, however, this one's only on the upper variants.
Overall, with the most spacious cabin in its segment and an impressive list of features, the WR-V is the perfect vehicle for those requiring space and practicality. On longer journeys too, the WR-V is supremely comfortable and betters some cars from a segment above too.
Honda WR-V Performance
The WR-V is offered with a 1.2 litre petrol engine and a 1.5 litre diesel unit, which are the same engines found in the Jazz. However, the transmissions for both engines now sport slightly shorter ratios in order to improve acceleration. The difference can be made out while driving as the WR-V feels a tad more livelier and eager than the Jazz.
The 1.2 litre i-VTEC engine develops 88 hp and 110Nm of torque, while the 1.5 litre i-DTEC diesel engine develops 98 hp and 200 Nm of torque. While the petrol engine is paired to a 5-speed manual transmission, the diesel unit gets a 6-speed unit. Sadly, there's no automatic gearbox available for now.
The diesel engine is more fun to drive and is significantly quicker too compared to the petrol unit. The gearboxes too work well and the shifts are moderate and gears are easy to slot into. The gear lever itself features a new design instead of the ball-like lever in other Honda cars.
While Honda's diesel engine is a loud unit, the sound-proofing in the WR-V seems to be better than earlier cars as the cabin is more silent than the Jazz for example. Both engines feel refined and while the petrol motor needs to be revved to gain momentum, the diesel one just rolls effortlessly. Since our drive was short, we weren't able to record the fuel-efficiency but Honda claims 17.5 kmpl for the petrol unit and 25.5 for the diesel one.
On the handling front, the WR-V turned out to be a neutral vehicle with good high-speed manners. Around corners, there is noticeable body-roll but that comes in only when pushing the car really hard. Normal spirited driving though is handled well by the WR-V and the car feels more engaging to drive than some of its competitors.
Watch The Honda WR-V video:
Ride quality is another strong point of the WR-V with its suspension being tuned towards the softer side. Bumps and potholes are filtered out well and the occupants can sit in comfort even on moderately bad roads.
The CR-V and BR-V didn't manage to set the cash registers ringing exactly but the WR-V could change that. The vehicle has the right design to appeal to young buyers as well as those looking for a family vehicle. Best-in-segment space and smart features add to the joy of being in the cabin, both during short and long trips. Performance too is at par with the competitors for the petrol engine and better than the rest for the diesel version. The car looks and feels premium too, which is something that was missing in the Amaze, Jazz and Mobilio. Features such as sunroof add that extra bit of flair to the overall package.
However, the fight isn't going to be easy for the WR-V as it'll have to compete with Maruti SuzukiVitara Brezza and Ford EcoSport both of which are strong sellers. Making things tougher is the fact that Honda is entering this segment quite late so the curve is going to be steeper for it.
As far as the product is concerned, Honda has got most things right and has blown away the competition in terms of space. What matters now is the price, which we'll get to know on 16th March. If priced correct, the WR-V has the potential to bring in good volumes but if Honda goes overboard with the price, it might just be game over for the WR-V.