With cross-hatches, carmakers have kept the formula simple – take their existing hatches, inject some testosterone with thick slide cladding, roof rails, larger wheels and voila! We have an all-new model. The i20 Active, the Etios Cross and the Cross Polo, all seem to toe this line of thought (except the Fiat Urban Cross – but it hardly sells!).With the new WR-V, Honda has made an honest effort to create a Jazz-based crossover that stands out from its donor car. Not just in terms of its SUV-inspired looks, which gives it a different persona, especially when viewed from the front and rear. But also in the way it has gone about tweaking the suspension, raising ground clearance and adding a few more features to differentiate it from the Jazz.
EXTERIORS AND LOOKS
Honda looked through the crosshatch business in India quite closely and created a design that not only tries to minimize the silhouette of the Jazz hatchback on which it is based but also create a sense of desirability in the onlooker. The front sees an uplifted hood with strong bonnet lines and a mega chrome bar thrown in for good measure. The chrome back connects the swooping headlamps to create a cohesive appearance.Thick plastic cladding up front saves the WR-V face from the ruts and rocks on occasional harsh road expeditions. The WR-V front looks nothing like a Jazz, and looks like a completely new car from that angle, but as you go to the side, the picture of a known hatchback becomes reminiscent.
Honda has ensured that image is diminished by throwing in ample plastic cladding and a set of roof rails finished in silver. They have also sized up the wheels. WR-V runs on 195/60 R16 Eco tyres with diamond cut alloy wheels, which look quite similar to the what’s in a BR-V. At the rear, tail lamps have been extended to contribute to a change in the overall design. These extensions include new rear fog lamps, which are quite bright at night to be honest.There is a thicker plastic bumper and silver rear diffuser to create the true essence of a crossover. Suspension setup has been reconstructed to make space for longer suspension travel and higher ground clearance. Honda WR-V sits at 188mm off the ground. WR-V may not look very attractive on paper but it definitely wins over the war of cross hatchbacks when it comes to design.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT
The WR-V is a bigger machine than the Jazz, but it’s still under 4 metres long. So the space would be just about enough, right? Well, no. The sense of space could obliterate claustrophobia as a concept. While you won’t have that commanding/SUV-esque driving position, you do get the sense you’re sitting in a car that’s longer than 4 metres. That segment-first sunroof just adds to the airy feel.
Seating five-up is easy but the middle occupant will want for more shoulder room. Also, the lack of adjustable headrests is just ridiculous and the integrated ones are too small and soft. The seat cushioning is a tad too soft, especially for long jaunts and considering this car’s positioning as something for explorers. After all, unlike the Jazz, this does get cruise control. Heck, you even get a 363-litre boot that’ll accommodate the average adult comfortably (kidnappers/Omni owners please note).
You also get nice touches like a steering that’s adjustable for rake and reach, and a can-holder in front of the driver’s AC vent. Also, modern cars have A-pillars that’re thicker than the US president, so the WR-V’s little quarter glass comes in handy at intersections. Somehow, the quality benchmark is similar for the tech and trim – just enough. There are hard plastics all-round, but nothing you’d call cheap. There’s no leather this or soft-touch that, but the upholstery is of a decent grade. The 7-inch infotainment system has a simple UI and a decent list of connectivity options including MirrorLink and WiFi, which is great. However, the system’s inherent lagginess is annoying and ever present. Moreover, the setup looks like an aftermarket add on. Also, the lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay can’t be ignored when there’re cheaper cars that get both. Lastly, the air-con may have a cool touch-panel but using it on the move isn’t all that convenient. You do have to take your eyes off the road to operate it and even the cooling was weak in our 40-degrees Celsius test conditions, which also draws your attention to the missing rear AC vents.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
As expected, the Honda WR-V gets the same engines as the Jazz. That means a SOHC 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol that produces 90PS at 6,000rpm and 110Nm at 4,800rpm as well as a DOHC 1.5-litre I-DTEC turbo-diesel that puts out 100PS at 3,600rpm and 200Nm at 1,750rpm. The diesel gets a 6-speed manual and the petrol gets a 5-speed manual – however, there is no CVT option like in the Jazz.The diesel engine has got good low-end grunt and with a responsive throttle, it will happily trudge along at 25kmph in third gear. The engine is quite free-revving and the linear power delivery makes the car quite enjoyable, if not exciting, to drive around. The gearbox is typically Honda with a precise click-click when you shift gears, while the light and progressive clutch is nice to use in stop-and-go traffic.
Additionally, the 6-speed makes the WR-V a comfortable and effortless highway cruiser. While Honda didn’t give us any figures, they are claiming best-in-class acceleration figures. They are also claiming that the WR-V diesel will offer segment-leading efficiency with a figure of 25.5kmpl. This is 1.8kmpl less than what they claim for the Jazz. Apart from the extra 50kg that the WR-V carries, this could also be down to the gearing which, Honda says, has been optimised for better acceleration. But we’ll have to wait for the road test to get real-world figures.What is obvious is that the engine is still as loud as it has always been. NVH levels are quite poor in the cabin and that’s personally quite off-putting.
On the contrary, the 1.2-litre petrol engine is super refined and creamy. It’s very quiet till around 4,000rpm at which point the sound turns to a nice raspy note which gets louder as you get to the redline. That said, the sound is the only exciting thing about it. The engine feels annoyingly underpowered and you really have to rev the nuts off of it for some decent acceleration and that can get quite annoying especially during overtakes. This, despite Honda saying that they reworked the gearing for better acceleration. That said, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem within the city. The precise gearbox and the light clutch only make the experience that much nicer in slow-moving traffic. Honda is claiming that the petrol WR-V will return an overall average of 17.5kmpl which is quite respectable.
Honda WR-V offers excellent driving dynamics, ride comfort, enthusiastic driving and punchy engines. Both petrol and diesel engines are very responsive and the level of refinement is impressive even at high speeds. The transmission offers smooth shifts with evenly spaced-out ratios. Power delivery is quite linear with a strong mid-range and an impressive top end. The 1.2-litre petrol engine has good performance in the city as the autobox makes driving in stop-go traffic a breeze, though its low-end performance is not impressive when compared to the competition. The 1.5-litre diesel engine performs better on the highways as you can simply go down a gear or two to make quick overtakes, but it is not very good when it comes to noise, since in spite of improving the NVH characteristics of the car, the diesel motor is quite audible inside.
The Honda WR-V comes loaded with the usual safety features like dual front airbags and ABS with EBD. Honda has a good after-sales network in India and they are panned out across the country even in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Another positive point is that Honda cars have good resale value in the market
The Honda WR-V is the first sub-4 meter Crossover from Honda which will help the Japanese Auto manufacturer to boost some sales because their other Crossover the BR-V definitely neither did not impress the Indian crowd much after its launch. The Cross hatchback looks loaded with features and although this is the beefier variant of the Jazz hatchback it gets slightly more interior space than the standard hatchback.