Honda WR-V Expert Review

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Introduction

Distinctive – that’s the first word that comes to mind when you look at the WR-V. Honda has taken far too long to launch its first sub-4 metre crossover, but as we have come to discover, this isn’t just a Jazz with some styling tweaks. Honda Car India’s R&D division has developed the WRV for India and other emerging markets (including Brazil). India is the first country to produce the crossover and also the first market where it will be sold. Additionally, apart from an extensive design overhaul, it also gets mechanical updates like a new transmission for the petrol engine and a reworked suspension, not to mention, some premium features derived from the City. No doubt, the WR-V has a persona of its own, but is that reason enough to choose it over the Jazz or indeed, its rivals?

Pros
  • Distinctive and butch styling. Cannot be confused with the hatchback it’s based on – the Jazz.
  • Both engines are fuel-efficient and offer good city driveability.
  • Adequate cabin space for the whole family. Senior citizens can get in and out comfortably too.
  • Safety: Dual airbags and ABS with EBD offered as standard across the range.
  • First car in the segment to get a sunroof.
Cons
  • Diesel engine lacks punch and refinement.
  • Interior finish quality could have been better.
  • Petrol engine feels strained under full passenger loads. Average highway performance.
  • Misses out on Jazz’s CVT automatic gearbox. No adjustable rear headrests, split rear seat or magic seats either.

Stand Out Features

  • First-in-segment sunroof.

    First-in-segment sunroof.

  • Digipad infotainment system with Wi-Fi and MirrorLink connectivity.

    Digipad infotainment system with Wi-Fi and MirrorLink connectivity.

CarDekho Verdict

Is the WR-V worth considering over the Jazz? Yes. Apart from its distinctive styling, it gets some nice features, many of which, are shared with the Honda City. We expect and we’d accept a price premium of Rs 70,000-1 lakh over the Jazz, which is good value for the added kit.

"Is the WR-V worth considering over the Jazz? Yes. Apart from its distinctive styling, it gets some nice features, many of which, are shared with the Honda City."

Pay anything more than that and you’re only making your pockets lighter for the looks. Arguably, it also looks unique among its rivals like the Hyundai i20 Active, VW Cross Polo, Toyota Etios Cross or Urban Cross. However, given its expected pricing, it’s a hard sell when compared to more convincing crossovers like the Ford EcoSport or the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza.

Exterior

Butch design and Honda – two terms you generally don’t put in the same sentence, but the WR-V is fairly rugged looking, despite being based on the Jazz. Thanks to its extensive design changes, the WRV has great road presence for a hatch based crossover.

Sleek headlights are skipped for an angrier and chunkier set of headlamps that get crescent moon-shaped daytime running LEDs at the corners. The car’s face is flat like a traditional SUV and is adorned by a fat chrome grille that makes the front look beefier. Additionally, the bonnet sits quite high and gets flared edges, but even so, Honda claims the WR-V complies with pedestrian safety norms.

Of course, there’s black cladding all around, plus plastic silver skid-plates, but the quality here feels average at best. To the sides, the door panels and character lines do remind you of the Jazz, but there’s a greater sense of road presence. In fact, the WR-V is 44mm longer and 57mm taller than the Jazz. It’s wider by 40mm too and even the wheelbase is up by 25mm!

Everything about the WR-V follows a bada hai tho behtar hai (bigger is better) theme. So even the wheels are bigger, 16-inch sets with 195/60-section tyres. Yes, even the ground clearance has been raised to 188mm (23mm more than the Jazz). Not segment-leading, but good enough for our roads, even with a full passenger load.

The boomerang-shaped tail lights slice into the tail gate and the low placement of the number plate and chrome applique above it actually remind you of the Hyundai Creta. Admittedly, the overall styling is quite busy, but the WR-V pulls off the SUV look convincingly – just don’t let that make you think you can actually go off-road with it.

Trivia: The Brazilian WR-V is no different than the car we get, but its ground clearance is rated at 200mm. This is because Brazil uses a different measuring method where the ground clearance is measured at the centre of the car – not the minimum clearance.

Exterior Comparison

Honda WRV Maruti Vitara Brezza Ford EcoSport
Length (mm) 3999 3995 3999
Width (mm) 1734 1790 1765
Height (mm) 1601 1640 1708
Ground Clearance (mm) 188 198 200
Wheel Base (mm) 2555 2500 2520
Kerb Weight (kg) 1176 1175 -
 

Boot Space Comparison

Honda WRV Maruti Vitara Brezza Ford EcoSport
Volume 363 Litres 328-litres 346-litres

Interior

As distinctive as the exterior is, the cabin is quite familiar. The WR-V gets the same quirky dashboard as the Jazz, but the infotainment system is from the City (more on the infotainment system here – link Honda City review. If technology bit is included in MMV, don’t include this line there, but keep it in the road test). Even the steering is adjustable for rake and reach (40mm of travel for both).

It also gets cruise control, height-adjustable seatbelts and a push button starter, but that’s only if you opt for the diesel. A big draw for many buyers will be the sunroof that, like the new City, gets the one-touch operation.

There are even unique bits like the new and smaller gear lever that’s quite fun to use. Like the i20 Active, there are two interior colour options – Black and Bluish Gray and Black and Silver – albeit the colour differences apply only to the seat and door pad upholstery.

Like the Jazz, the cabin space is super-generous and taking the whole family for a trip will be no hassle, especially since you get plenty of bottle holders, two rear seatback pockets and a 363-litre boot (Jazz = 354-litre).

But, the lord giveth and the lord taketh away.

While Honda has added some good features, including a central armrest with storage, the Jazz’s Magic Seats have been skipped, nor does it get 60:40 split seats. You don’t even get adjustable rear headrests on a car that will easily cost Rs 10 lakh and above on road! Additionally, the overall fit and finish quality could have been better, especially when you consider the fact that the WR-V will cost more than the Jazz. Another disadvantage is that unlike the Vitara Brezza, you don’t get that commanding driving position, which just adds so much to the SUV experience.

Performance

The WR-V gets the same powertrain options as the Jazz, except for the optional CVT automatic offered with the Jazz, while the 1.2 petrol gets a new five-speed manual gearbox. Honda says this transmission is based on the gearbox you get in the BR-V and it has been tuned to improve acceleration, but any gains were imperceptible on our standalone drive of the WR-V.

The fact is, the 90PS petrol engine feels a bit lethargic. If you are driving alone, the motor gets the job done, but with all the seats occupied, you will have to rev the engine hard and make frequent downshifts. Thankfully, the engine is smooth and sounds nice too. The 110Nm of torque is delivered at nearly 5,000rpm, makes climbing up slopes a bit tricky and it will struggle in hilly areas. The WR-V petrol is also up to 62kg heavier than an equivalent Jazz variant and along with the revised gearing, the fuel economy dips a bit, to 17.5kmpl.

The 1.5-litre diesel engine makes the exact same 100PS of power and 200Nm of torque and comes paired with a six-speed manual transmission. The motor offers great low-end torque and loves low-rev with high-gear combinations. Power delivery is smooth and linear at all times, but it’s only easy to drive, not enjoyable. Hard-revving makes a lot of noise with no equivalent gain in speed, but if your driving style is relaxed, you won’t have any complaints in the city or cruising down the highway. For family-car buyers, it is the better engine. Depending on the variant, the WR-V diesel is 31-50kg heavier than the Jazz, but there’s no noticeable difference in performance. However, at 25.5kmpl, the fuel economy dips by 1.8kmpl.

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Honda WRV Maruti Vitara Brezza Ford EcoSport
Power 98.6bhp@3600rpm 88.5bhp@4000rpm 98.59bhp@3750rpm
Torque (Nm) 200Nm@1750rpm 200Nm@1750rpm 205Nm@1750-3250rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1498 1248 1498
Transmission Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 176 kmph 172 kmph 182 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 12.43 Seconds 12.36 Seconds 13.5 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) 1204kg 1200kg -
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 25.5kmpl 24.3kmpl 22.77kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 81.89368770764119 bhp/ton 73.75 bhp/ton -

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Ford EcoSport Honda WRV
Power - 88.7bhp@6000rpm
Torque (Nm) - 110Nm@4800rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) - 1199
Transmission Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) - 164.26 kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) - 15.31 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) - 1104kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 18.88kmpl 17.5kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 1104kg 80.34420289855072 bhp/ton

Ride and Handling

Honda says the WR-V’s suspension uses components taken from their mid-sized SUV, the HR-V. Blessed with more wheel travel and larger wheels, the WR-V pummels potholes without a fuss. The crossover’s rough road ability is certainly better than the hatchback it’s based on. However, the overall suspension setup is a bit soft, especially on the lighter petrol-engined version.

As a result, there is a constant vertical bobbing and slight side-to-side rocking movement too. This will eat into the sense of calmness while cruising at higher speeds. Through corners, the WR-V also has obvious amounts of body-roll. So, it isn’t particularly entertaining, but the WR-V feels safe and predictable at high speeds thanks to its greater wheelbase and wider tyres.

The handling is decent too. Despite its SUV-esque changes, the WR-V still behaves more like a hatchback. If the steering offered more feedback, it would be good fun to drive too, so while it is one-finger-light in the city, it’s no enthusiast-pleaser.

Off-Road Ability

While you do get 188mm of ground clearance, the WR-V is still an urban crossover and does not get all-wheel drive or heavy-duty underbody protection. Big speed breakers and damaged roads are the only challenges you should be chasing with the WR-V.

Technology

The WR-V gets the same Android based “Digipad” infotainment system as the new Honda City. Unique features of this system include MirrorLink and Wi-Fi connectivity, along with the inclusion of an HDMI port. MirrorLink requires the phone to be connected via USB and you can use the apps offered in this feature, provided your phone is compatible with it (MirrorLink is not an app you can download. It must be on your phone by default). While it does offer added benefits (e.g. music player and navigation app), the number of apps available is limited, when compared to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

The Wi-Fi connectivity option lets you connect to a Wi-Fi source nearby (say, your phone’s hotspot), to operate functions through the browser app. To use Wi-Fi, though, you need to get a USB receiver, which Honda is offering as an accessory. Once connected, you can access any website directly through the infotainment display. It’s also useful for receiving live traffic updates on the in-built navigation system (SD card-based/by MapMyIndia). Additionally, the setup gets voice command recognition for navigation, entertainment and telephony systems. Other features of the infotainment system include an SD card slot for media files, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony along with 1.5GB of internal memory.

Safety

All variants of the Honda WR-V get dual front airbags and ABS with EBD as standard. It also gets a rear camera with multiple viewing angles, but like the City and Jazz, you don't get rear parking sensors.

Safety Comparison

Honda WRV Maruti Vitara Brezza Ford EcoSport
Airbags righticonClose righticonClose righticonClose
ABS righticonClose righticonClose righticonClose
EBD righticonClose righticonClose righticonClose

Variants

  • Diesel
  • Petrol
Variants Features Price
WRV i-DTEC S LED DRLs, Dual Airbags And ABS, Electrically Adjustable ORVM, 8.88 Lakh*
WRV i-DTEC VX [ In adition to i-DTEC S ] Sunroof, Cruise Control, Push Button Start/Stop, [ Variant i-DTEC S price ] + 1,38,500 =  10.26 Lakh*
Variants Features Price
WRV i-VTEC S Electrically Adjustable ORVM, Dual Airbags And ABS, LED DRLs, 7.79 Lakh*
WRV i-VTEC VX [ In adition to i-VTEC S ] Touchscreen Infotainment, Automatic Climate Control, Sunroof, [ Variant i-VTEC S price ] + 1,32,500 =  9.12 Lakh*

The Honda WRV is offered in two variants - S and SVX.

 

Honda WRV similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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