SUVs and crossovers are the current trend in India and there’s no denying that. These vehicles seem to appear a bit more practical for Indian road conditions and also offer you the upright commanding driving position. Toyota has one, Hyundai has one, Fiat has two in its product portfolio in India, so why not Honda? Yes, the Japanese car maker is all set to launch the WRV crossover in India very soon, on the 16th March 2017 and we have already driven it along the beautiful beaches of Goa. Here’s what we feel about the Honda Winsome Runabout Vehicle or WRV.
The Honda WRV was codenamed as 2FM during development stages and was first unveiled at the Sao Paulo Auto Show in Brazil last year. It is based on the Jazz platform and is approximately 44mm longer, 40mm wider, 57mm taller than the Jazz while the wheelbase too has been extended by 25mm. The Honda WRV also stands 23mm taller than its hatchback sibling with a ground clearance of 188mm. The crossover will take on the likes of the Hyundai i20 Active, Toyota Etios Cross, Fiat Avventura and Fiat Urban Cross, when it hits the market later this month.
The Honda WRV has been designed on the “Wild Armor” design concept. The front of the car gets features like a chrome bar that enters into the headlamp area, new design headlamps with LED DRLs and position lights, blacked out front grille and black cladding along with faux silver skid plates. The sides are characterised by a strong crease line that runs through the door handles. This is also the only design element and panel that the WRV shares with the standard Jazz hatchback, and yes, it does remind you of the latter from this angle. There is considerable amount of cladding on the wheel arches too, which house 16-inch Blade cut gunmetal finish alloy wheels.
The rear of the Honda WRV again boasts of an all new design. The new polygonal taillights protrude out of the body work and remind you of the recently unveiled Honda CRV. There’s again loads of titbits to make it look like a off-roader, like the black cladding on the bumper, and the silver accented faux diffuser. There is also a Honda BRV-like rear number plate area with a dash of chrome on top of it. On the whole, the Honda WRV definitely looks distinctive in flesh and unlike initial pics does not look like just another jacked up Honda Jazz.
The Honda WRV is based on the Jazz and shares its dashboard with the hatchback. The asymmetric layout of the dashboard gets silver accents along with a piano black finish as well. Going by the touch, you can immediately tell that Honda has offered more premium plastics on the WRV over the Jazz. There is the familiar 3-pod instrument cluster with a speedometer, tachometer and a Multi-info display. The steering wheel is borrowed from the recently launched 2017 Honda City, and comes with audio functions, cruise control settings (diesel variant only) and Bluetooth telephony functions. The steering column adjusts for reach, as well as rake. Also amongst new features is the gear knob that has been taken straight off the Honda Vezel/HRV sold in global markets.
Honda has also introduced the new Digipad infotainment system on the new WRV. The system made its debut on the 2017 Honda City and we loved it for the fluid touch responses. Like the City, the system supports only MirrorLink and skips out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But apart from this, the Digipad is quite a joy to use. It is Android-based and offers a wide range of customization options. There is also an in-built browser which you can use after connecting to a mobile WiFi hotspot. The Digipad comes with Satellite Navigation too, which again feels easy to use. This system has been sourced from PSS (Premium Sound Solutions), which is the new parent company of Blaupunkt.
The windshield on the Honda WRV is expansive and you tend to get a panoramic view of everything outside from the driver’s seat. The seat itself adjusts for height, so you can choose from a high commanding driving position or a sporty low position, which we personally prefer. Sadly, a large glass area also means that more heat enters the cabin. This is particularly evident from the rear seat and forced us to turn up the fan speed quite a bit. This also revealed that this AC unit can get fairly noisy when turned up to its higher reaches. The absence of rear AC vents was felt sorely. The HVAC system though, comes with the funky and futuristic touch panel which is a breeze to use.
The comfort on the front seats is excellent, and a wide variety of adjustment options for the steering wheel and the seat mean you can get into that perfect driving position with ease. The rear bench too feels very comfy with good thigh support. Although they do not come with adjustable headrests and you will have to slide down into your seat to make yourself that much more comfortable. Sliding down into your seat is thankfully not an issue at all, as there is loads of legroom on offer here. The extra 25mm of wheelbase does its job. Magic seats sadly have been given a miss. Oh and did we forget to mention the sunroof? Yes, the Honda WRV is the first car in its segment to offer one, adding greatly to the premium cabin feel.
Engine & Gearbox:
The Honda WRV comes with the same engine options as the Jazz. It is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol motor that develops 90 PS and 110 Nm, while the diesel is a 1.5-litre unit that develops 100 PS and 200 Nm. The petrol comes mated to an all new 5-speed manual gearbox, while the diesel gets a 6-speed manual. We are told that the new 5-speed gearbox has been specially developed for the WRV to suit the 1.2-litre engine. The diesel engine, on the other hand (for the first time on any Honda car in India), gets a Lambda (LAF) sensor placed just before the catalytic convertor for better emission control. The gear ratios too, on both the gearboxes, have been shortened to aid driveability.
The 1.2-litre petrol motor is refined to begin with and makes a nice snarl when you wind it up. Although power delivery leaves a lot to be desired. The engine has a weak bottom end (a typical Honda trait) but it is the mid range that feels disappointing. Power delivery is flat in the mid range and extremely linear, which makes you keep downshifting to a lower gear. The engine feels most responsive after 4,500 RPM, right up to 6,600 RPM where it makes its max power. Full marks to the 5-speed gearbox though, that feels smooth with positive shifts.
The 1.5-litre diesel comes in as a respite after driving the petrol WRV. This one feels much more responsive and punchy in its midrange. Power delivery again is extremely linear up to say 3,800 RPM after which power tails off. The diesel is easily the powertrain option that we would recommend, thanks again to the slick 6-speed gearbox that compliments the engine characteristics well. The diesel engine is rated to deliver 25.5 kmpl, while the petrol delivers 17.5 kmpl as per standard tests.
Ride & Handling:
The Honda WRV comes with a new suspension setup compared to the Jazz. There is a new geometry Mac-Pherson strut setup upfront, while a Twisted beam H-type axle does duty at the rear. It also gets an increased amount of caster trail for better stability. We were indeed impressed by this new setup. Ride quality on the Honda WRV feels much better sorted. The suspension feels absorbent on any surface, although it can be heard if you hit a sharp pothole. Handling feels predictable, thanks to the well-weighed steering wheel, and high speed stability is good too, thanks to the longer wheelbase. We were also impressed by the brakes this car has to offer with a precise feel to the pedal. This is the result of 14-inch ventilated discs upfront, and a higher ratio for the brake booster that improves initial braking response.
The Honda WRV is offered with dual SRS airbags and ABS as standard features on all variants. Although features like Cruise Control, Keyless entry and Push button start will only be offered on the diesel. Rear parking camera will be offered on top trims, but rear parking sensors have been given a miss. The Honda WRV also comes with a Brake Over ride system that disengages the accelerator in case the driver accidentally steps on both the accelerator and brake pedals.
You must have understood by now that the Honda WRV isn’t just another Jazz with high ground clearance. It has much more to it. The company has taken the effort to comprehensively distinguish it from its hatchback sibling, and has succeeded in doing so. So much so that it isn’t only the current best in class but can be an excellent alternative to the Jazz itself. Go for the Honda Jazz if you want a large practical hatchback. But if you are looking at something more stylish, better riding, more premium and feature-rich, the Honda WRV can be all yours!
2017 Honda WRV Photo Gallery:
Pics by Dr. Anand Narvekar
2017 Honda WRV Walk around Videos:
Videos by Ritesh Madhok