SUVs and Compact Cross-overs are the latest trend Globally. In India also both these segments are growing at a rapid pace compared to other segments. Honda India introduced the BR-V, which caters to the 7-seater cross over segment earlier and now the company is introducing WR-V which is a cross hatchback model for the 5 seater segment. The WR-V is based on Jazz but the company has made significant changes in the design and mechanically to make WR-V stand apart. The WR-V is developed for emerging markets like Brazil and India. The development was carried out by engineers from Brazil, India and Japan. The testing phase was done in Japan and Indian engineers made changes for the India spec WR-V compared to international model. India is the first country in the world to manufacture the Honda WR-V. Honda India invited us to drive the new WR-V in Goa.

Exterior

The WR-V fascia looks a bit different from the Jazz. The new solid wing chrome grill along with new bumper and skip plates gives a rugged look to the WR-V. The headlight design is also new with DRLs and position lamp. When you come towards the side, we can see the design elements borrowed from the jazz as Honda didn’t change much. But the WR-V gets a silver roof rail and 16 inch gun metal alloywheels to inject some freshness. The hatch of the WRV gets a new design with split rear tail lamp and chrome strip on top of number plate which gives it a wider stance. Honda increased wheelbase of WR-V by 205 mm and ground clearance also. Overall, Honda has done a good job in making the WR-V look different from the Jazz.

Interior

When you step inside the WR-V, it’s a familiar place if you have driven the City and Jazz. The three spoke multi-function steering wheel and instrument cluster is shared from Jazz. The dashboard design has just been slightly tweaked on this car. Honda has given 7 inch touch screen system from City which is basically an android tablet. Even though we can connect to the internet and browse the web with this system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is missing. Honda has provided HDMI port for mirroring devices. The Bluetooth connectivity is seamless and easy but the system hangs on multiple occasions. The navigation system is not accurate as we got lost in Goa mutliple times. We hope Honda will provide an update soon.

The AC controls are operated by touch screen below the infotainment system. Again this is practically not very usable as we have to constantly look into the system to change settings when we are driving. The regular knob is more useful. Honda provided multiple charging ports and storage areas inside the car. One thing we can’t complain is the space inside this cabin, the front and rear seats have lots of knee , shoulder and head room. The seats are also comfortable and perfect for long distance journeys, as fatigue won’t kick in early like some other cars. The wide glass areas also provide lots of light which gives an airy feel for the cabin. To make the cabin more pleasing for customers, Honda is offering two colour options – Black & Grey, Black & Blue. Honda WR-V offer 363 liters of boot space with the option of 60:40 split seat but the magic seats option of Jazz is missing on WR-V. The WR-V gets cruise control, push button start, reverse parking aid and segment first Sun-roof.

Drive

Honda WR-V is powered by 1.2 L i-VTEC and 1.5 L i-DTEC diesel engine. We drove the petrol model first. The 1.2 L i-VTEC engine produces 90 PS of power at 6000 RPM and 110 NM of torque at 8400 RPM. This engine is mated to 5 speed manual gearbox. Lets talk about good things first, like all i- VTEC engines the refinement level outshines other petrol engines. The smooth and calm nature of engine is very appreciatable. This engine just loves to rev to its red line and its good a thing which I will explain later. Honda tuned this engine for maximum efficiency rather than performance. The low end is really bad and you have to rev the engine nearly to its redline to get some movement and another good part is that the engine loves to be revved to its red line all day without any fuss. If you want a quick burst of power to overtake, then a down shift is the only option. The best way to drive this engine is in a relaxed manner, then everything feels well connected. The engine and gearbox combo works well to get maximum efficiency. We can expect mileage of around 14 kmpl for the petrol engine. Honda doesn’t offer automatic option in WR-V.

Now lets talk about the diesel engine which is 1.5 L i-DTEC producing 100 PS of power at 3600 RPM and 200 NM of torque at 1750 RPM. This engine is also mated to 5 speed manual gearbox. The diesel engine is completely opposite to petrol engine. Intially, when you starts moving there is some turbo lag but once you get into the powerband this engine just pulls strongly to its red line near 4000 RPM on the tacho meter. Overtaking is a joy with this engine, in any gear there is ample amount of power at your right foot and a gentle tap on the accelerator will give you quick acceleration. This engine is built for the highways as cruising is simply brilliant with triple digit speeds maintained easily. The only downside is that the refinement is not there as we can hear the diesel clatter inside the cabin. Compared to earlier models, Honda has improved a lot on refinement with this engine but still not upto Hyundai standards. Even with spirited driving, we got more than 22 kmpl with WR-V and relaxed driving can get you near to 25 kmpl (claimed figures).

Most of the Honda products are dynamically very good, but the WR-V is not in the same league as other products or even the Jazz. Honda increased the ground clearance and the suspension is tuned on softer side. This resulted in lots of body roll around corners and this is not a very confidence inspiring fact. Even though the steering wheel stiffens up well and offers lots of feedback the WR-V cant be driven enthusiastically around corners. The straight line stability, though is rock solid for the WR-V. But the trade off in handling means that the WR-V’s ride quality is superb. We took the car through some bad roads and still nothing was felt inside the cabin. On the wonderful roads of Goa, it was really comfortable and people will really appreciate it. The braking performance is good thanks to the new 16 inch wheels which offer good grip on and off-road. Honda offers dual airbags and ABS as standard option on all variants. Thumbs up for Honda giving priority for safety.

Verdict

After driving the WR-V through Goa, on both good and bad roads, I want to say that the WR-V is very different to Jazz. Even though mechanicals are same, Honda engineers have tuned the WR-V for the segment which is catering – the crossovers. The WR-V offers lots more features and the crossover looks adds to the appeal. The diesel engine is punchy and the petrol is very well refined. If you are looking for a crossover with good space and lots of features with funky crossover looks, then the WR-V is the car for you.

Images : Stenny Joseph