The idea is not new. Many companies in India have, successfully and without much success, developed crossover cars – a vehicle built on a hatchback or a sedan platform that has some features of an SUV – on their existing hatchbacks. The execution, however, sets new standards in automotive design. The Honda WR-V, even though it is based on the Jazz hatchback, comes across as an entirely new product. What makes it so unique?
Unlike the Jazz, the face of the WR-V – short for Winsome Runabout Vehicle – has more horizontal and aggressive design lines. There is a solid metal grille which runs from one headlamp to another, and an imposing bumper design with silver cladding.
Around the sides, there are deep character lines which accentuate the richness of body paint. A high ground clearance of 188mm, body cladding running from front to rear, and large tyres give it the appearance of an SUV.
The rear, too, has horizontal design lines, which make the car look wider than it actually is. Sturdy elements include the chrome rear stripe and the bumper with a robust-looking cladding. The WR-V will be available in six colours, including a new ‘premium amber’ shade.
When it is launched on March 16, the WR-V will become the only car in its segment to be equipped with a sunroof. Although in India sunroof is not used as much as it is in western, colder nations, it results in excellent lighting inside the cabin. The sunroof, coupled with the large glass area, adds to a sense of increased space.
As compared to the Jazz, the length, wheelbase and ground clearance of the WR-V has been increased. This results in enough and more legroom, headroom and shoulder-room all around. In fact, the rear seat is so roomy that you can easily sit cross-legged. The boot space is 363 litres – more than what you get in some compact sedans.
The plastic quality is very good and the overall design theme is ‘youthful’. The cabin will have two colour choices: black & bluish grey and black & silver.
At the centre of the dashboard is a 17.7-cm touchscreen infotainment system, called the Digipad. It has features like satellite-linked navigation, Bluetooth telephony, audio streaming, 1.5GB internal memory, and USB, microSD and HDMI slots. It also gets Wi-Fi support for internet – which is optional – and MirrorLink support for smartphone connectivity. Then there is voice control – you can ‘talk’ to the Digipad and give it commands – and as we found, the Digipad understands Indian-accented English effectively.
There are two front cup-holders, and a glove pocket and bottle-holders in all the doors. A nice touch is a driver-side cooled cup-holder that can also be used to keep your phone. While there is a central armrest between the front seats, it’s too small to conveniently place your left elbow while driving. The armrest, however, can be opened to store and connect Tablets and iPads.
The 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engine produces a maximum power of 99bhp and a torque of 200Nm. It has a claimed fuel-efficiency of 25.5kpl – the best in its segment. The 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine delivers a maximum power of 89bhp and a torque of 110Nm. Its claimed fuel-efficiency is 17.5kpl.
The diesel will come with a six-speed manual transmission. In it, the sixth gear has been set at a high ratio to improve fuel-efficiency. The petrol will get five-speed manual. In it, the fifth gear has been set at a low ratio to improve acceleration performance. There is no automatic gearbox option, as of now.
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Of late, there is an increasing demand for compact, premium vehicles that can serve as alternatives to traditional hatchbacks and sedans, and which are aspirational in nature. The WR-V sits in that segment. It is the first car developed by Honda R&D India in association with Honda R&D Japan, and on March 16, India will become the first country in the world to get the WR-V. The car has so many features and is so premium that, we believe, it won’t come cheap. Expect starting price of the petrol model close to Rs 7 lakh, and that of the diesel above Rs 8 lakh.