Take an existing hatch, inject some testosterone with thick plastic body-cladding, roof rails, larger wheels and voila! We have an all-new model. Well, that’s how carmakers have come up with cross-hatchbacks like the i20 Active, the Etios Cross and the Cross Polo.
The new WR-V, however, is Honda’s honest effort at creating 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, but also in the way it has gone about the raising ground clearance and adding a few more features to differentiate it from the Jazz.
What is in common is most of its siblings’ good bits like a spacious cabin and a huge boot. It also shares the Jazz’s 90hp 1.2-litre petrol and a 100hp 1.5-litre diesel paired with 5- and 6-speed manual transmissions, respectively. However, unlike the Jazz, it doesn’t get the option of a CVT automatic gearbox on the petrol.
The WR-V is all set to be launched by March 16, with prices expected to be between Rs 7 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.
From the front, you’ll be forgiven to think that the WR-V is an all-new car. Honda has done a fine job of endowing it with a beefier ‘SUV’ look, a raised bonnet line, a thick chrome grille and a sculpted bumper. The rear end too is unique to the WR-V with its L-shaped tail lamps, revised bumper and tailgate design.
The car’s sides are where you can draw the most visual similarities with the Jazz, with familiar bodyline and glasshouse. There are some unique bits here too, with the WR-V getting thick plastic cladding, roof rails and larger 16-inch alloys wheels shod with 195 mm-section tyres.
It’s also slightly larger than the Jazz all around, and most importantly, its wheelbase at 2,555mm is 25mm longer than the Jazz, which frees up a bit more space inside.
The interior is a lot similar to the Jazz. However, the WR-V’s raised stance has made ingress and egress easier. The rest of the cabin carries forward the Jazz’s strong points. Visibility is good, but the thick A-pillar can be obstructive at times. The talking point here, however, is the WR-V’s sunroof which is a first-in-segment feature. Also, there’s plenty of storage with several cubby holes and bottle holders around the cabin. The armrest also houses a second USB and a power socket, in addition to those on the dashboard. The WR-V offers tremendous amounts of space both in the front and back, and what’s nice is that the seats, both up front and at the rear are quite comfortable. Sadly, to keep costs low, the Jazz’s excellent ‘Magic seats’, which can be folded in various options, do not make it to the WR-V. The seats do flip fully in case you need to expand the 363-litre boot.
Honda’s new Digipad infotainment system that made a debut in the facelifted City finds a place in the top-spec WR-V as well. This 7-inch touchscreen system is intuitive to operate and comes loaded with features like Wi-Fi (use your smartphone as a hotspot and it will connect to it), MirrorLink smartphone integration, navigation and 1.5GB of on-board storage. It also comes with two USB slots, two microSD card slots and an HDMI port. Like the new City, it also gets a reversing camera with multi-views; this definitely helps while reversing, especially in tight spaces.
The WR-V gets an engine start/stop button and cruise control, but surprisingly only on the diesel model.
The 90hp 1.2-litre petrol is the same refined unit as in the Jazz. Its performance is decent at slow speeds, but you need to shift to lower gears and spin the engine faster to make quick progress, especially when overtaking in slow-moving traffic. However, gear changes are quite hassle-free because the five-speed gearbox and the light clutch are easy to use.
The diesel is the familiar 100hp 1.5-litre i-DTEC from the City and the Jazz. Like always, it’s quite smooth to drive right from low revs, and the engine is also very efficient with Honda claiming a figure of 25.5 kmpl. Refinement, however, continues to be a sore point with loud engine noise and a lot of clatter. This one comes equipped with a 6-speed manual but the clutch is slightly heavy to operate.
The WR-V rides on a slightly higher suspension compared to the Jazz, but this has not affected the car’s handling; it feels quite confident at high speeds. Also, with its larger 16-inch wheels and fatter tyres, the WR-V absorbs bumps and our pothole-riddled roads rather well.
Honda has entered the party a bit late with its WR-V. But this one makes a strong case for itself with its butch looks and a long equipment list; the sunroof will be a huge draw. Practicality, space and user–friendliness – hallmarks of the Jazz – show their presence in the WR-V too.
The only real competition it has comes in the form of the the Fiat Avventura/Urban Cross – which do not sell almost.
- i-VTEC petrol 1,199 cc, four-cylinder90 hp (91.2 PS) power at 6000 rpm, 110 Nm torque at 4800 rpm5-speed manual
- i-DTEC diesel 1498 cc, four cylinder 100 hp (101.3 PS) power @ 3600 rpm, 200 Nm at 1750 rpm6-speed manual
An estimated price of Rs 7-10 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) may a bit steep, but as a package, the WR-V could give its cross-hatch competition, and also mainstream premium hatchbacks like the Hyundai i20, a run for their money.
(In partnership with AutocarIndia)