Jack of all trails: Head for a comfortable drive in Honda WR-V on the beaches
Honda's latest crossover, the WR-V, seems pretty comfortable going on road and off it, and even across the sunny beaches of Goa
We were invited to get a taste of the sun, sea and sandy beaches of Goa and, of course, the new WR-V. Based on the premium hatchback, Jazz, this muscular, sporty and spacious crossover comes in to fill the void for a compact SUV/ crossover in Honda's line-up in India.
Honda has done a more thorough upgrade on the Jazz to make it evolve into a proper crossover, the WR-V. Honda engineers have tweaked the suspension setup, increased the ground clearance and even elongated the wheelbase.
The 363-litre boot space can be expanded by folding down the second row seats
The front and rear design of the WR-V looks more rugged and SUV-like. The new swept-back headlights with LED day-time running lights, re-designed bumper and chunky grille complete the SUV-like impersonation. The side profile is very similar to that of the Jazz but the WR-V can be differentiated with its roof-rails, sunroof and larger 16-inch alloy wheels with wider tyres. There is a new bumper, a slightly re-designed boot-lid and new tail-lights as well.
The petrol engine is smooth, but a tad underwhelming
The new crossover gets the same 1,199-cc i-VTEC petrol engine from the Jazz that produces 90 PS at 6,000 rpm and 110 Nm of torque at 4,800 rpm. However, Honda has worked on the five-speed manual transmission, to offer better performance. As expected, the petrol engine is very refined and smooth. The power felt adequate for city driving and the gear-shifts were smooth and effortless. The electric power steering is light and easy. Moreover, the steering position can also be adjusted.
Only VX diesel gets push start button
Once we hit the wider roads, we got a chance to whip the horses and up the speed. Soon the small 1.2-litre motor started to feel underwhelming for a car this large and heavy. The petrol version is about 60-80 kg heavier than the Jazz and a bigger petrol engine would have worked wonders. Sadly, due to the skewed norms in India and to avail tax benefits, most manufacturers play it safe, keeping the engine size below 1.2 litres. The good news is that Honda claims a fuel efficiency of 17.5 km/l.
The diesel engine is peppy and has bottom-end punch
The raised ground clearance along with the revised mounting points of the McPherson struts and optimised twisted torsion beam setup, the WR-V took the broken road without breaking into a sweat. Cornering harder on the hilly roads, we could feel some body-roll filter in at higher speeds.
The cabin is extremely reminiscent of the Jazz
The diesel version of the WR-V is the same that does the duty on the Jazz. But here, Honda executives have worked on the 1.5-litre i-DTEC to improve fuel efficiency and it now claims to return an impressive 25.5 km/l. The engines are mated to a six-speed manual transmission but the gear ratios have been altered to "improve uphill climbing ability and smooth acceleration".
The i-DTEC produces 100 PS at 3,600 rpm and the 200 Nm of torque starts to flow in as early as 1,750 rpm. Since there is abundant torque at lower revs, the diesel feels a lot more drivable and has enough grunt for you.
Top-end diesel variant gets cruise control
The clutch feels heavy and, when driven in bumper-to-bumper city traffic could get tiresome to use. But, bear in mind that the diesel version is about 90-130 kg heavier than its petrol sibling, so there is a slight hint of wallowing when you're gunning hard over patchy roads.
But this is the version to buy if you make up your mind to go for the WR-V. It has more equipment on offer. Keyless entry, Push Button Start/Stop, and Cruise Control are only offered in the diesel variant. Safety aid like dual airbags, ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), and even a multi-angle rear-view camera comes
Also, a good addition is electric sunroof, which is a segment first and, as seen on the Honda Jazz and City, you get touch panel for the air-conditioning system. Another must mention is the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that gets a whole set of features. This includes MirrorLink for smart phones, sat nav, audio streaming and voice recognition system. With no less than two USB ports, a couple of microSD card slots and even an optional Wi-Fi support.
Getting in or out of the WR-V extremely convenient, due to its tall profile. There's a new and sleek gear knob and a centre arm-rest as well, which has a USB and a microSD slot in it, in addition to the ones on the dashboard.
Now with the stretched wheelbase, there is abundant space for passengers in the front and back. And, even with the lower crossover profile, there's decent headroom even at the back and more than sufficient shoulder-room. The rear passenger seats do not get split backrest and also fall short on under-thigh support.
The WR-V will be priced between R7.97 lakh to Rs 10.26 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
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