Honda WR-V compact SUV in CarToq’s Road Test Review

Honda car stint in India has been long and successful ever since it set shop here in 1995. Over the years, Honda has given the Indian market popular and interesting vehicles. However, none of their SUV models gathered numbers in the past. Fast forward to 2017, Honda introduced their third R-V model for the Indian market and surprisingly, it became the best selling Honda in July. Say hello to the WR-V.

Why this vehicle?

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Selling more than the mighty Honda City is a BIG deal. Yes, the Amaze did the same a few years back, but then it was much cheaper and garnered the curiosity of the buyers because it came with Honda’s first diesel engine and,was the first compact sedan from the brand. But nobody expected the WR-V to outsell both the Honda City, and the Ford Ecosport, and the compact SUV has just done that.

Does it look different?

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The Honda WR-V is based on the Honda Jazz. While there are a few vague similarities between the two, there are plenty of differences too. The WR-V has a much taller stance. It looks very robust, thanks to the cladding all around the body of the vehicle. The WR-V gets a very striking face.

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Apart from the thick metal grille, which has become the signature design of all new Honda vehicles, the WR-V looks quite unique otherwise. The thick grille ends with large headlamps that somehow look as though the grille itself has continued. There is a honeycomb mesh below the thick metal bar, and the lower bumper has a fashionably integrated skid plate. The front design looks quite busy.

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The vehicle gets its unique identity from the bright LED DRLs, but there are no LED headlamps like those Honda offers with the City. The side profile will remind you of the Jazz but only if you ignore the body cladding, roof rail, ground clearance, and the alloys wheels. The WR-V has its unique identity because of the slight but practical changes that Honda has done to it.

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At the rear, the vehicle gets split tail lamps and a very uniquely shaped tail gate. The vehicle gets a skid plate integrated into the bumper at the rear too.Although the WR-V is the narrowest-in-class when compared to the EcoSport and the Brezza, the design elements do not often reveal that to the naked eye.

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Overall, the WR-V is very well-packaged and a well thought out product. The earlier SUVs from Honda did not get any distinctive look and failed terribly in the market. It seems the Indian R&D proved to be quite helpful during the development of this vehicle.

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What is different on the inside?

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Honda’s “Man maximum, Machine minimum” philosophy has given us some wonderful vehicles with spacious interiors. The WR-V is no different. The WR-V gets all-black interiors giving it an elegant look. A few parts like the driver door armrest plastics and other trims feel hard,and sometimes uncomfortable, but you do get used to them.

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The dashboard is well laid out. There is an infotainment system in the center that packs some high-end stuff. The infotainment itself is touch-sensitive, but Honda has provided physical buttons on the driver side. The AC unit continues to be touch sensitive and looks extremely elegant.

The console is tilted towards the driver to give him easy access without many distractions. There is an engine start/stop button on the left-hand side of the steering. The placement may feel a bit odd at starting, but the button glows continuously to attract the attention of the driver when the ignition is on.

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The steering wheel gets a lot of functions like infotainment control, cruise control and call control. The driving console behind it is also familiar to the other Honda cars. It gets a three-pod design with the middle dial being the speedometer, the extreme right one being the MID, and the tachometer at extreme left.

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The car gets a lot of space around to keep stuff. The door pockets – present on all 4 doors – can hold big bottles. There is ample space in front of the gear lever to place two glasses and a big cubby hole.  There are also small cavities alongside the handbrake to put coins and small slips. The car also comes with a central armrest. The armrest is fixed, but it is good enough to support a wide range of seating postures and two elbows!

The WR-V comes with fabric seats, but the front seats are very well contoured and give ample support to the body. It’s also the only car to offer a sunroof in its segment.

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The WR-V offers maximum wheelbase in the segment. Naturally, the rear knee and leg room are huge. Passengers can even sit with one leg over other! The rear passengers get huge windows and a dedicated charging point, but there is no AC vent. The WR-V gets huge windows, and with the sunroof, the whole cabin temperature rises pretty quickly if it is parked under direct sunlight. Even though the AC works decent for the front passengers, the rear occupants have to wait for some time till the cold air reaches their corner of the car.

How is it to drive?

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Honda has always been known for their good drivability. The WR-V was no different. We took the vehicle to the twisties of the Himalayas and were quite happy. We drove the diesel version, which comes powered by the same 1.5-litre iDTEC engine. The motor produces a maximum power of 99 Bhp at 3,600 rpm while the torque maximizes at 200 Nm at 1,750 rpm.

The car weighs 1176 kg, which makes it only 6 kilos heavier than the Brezza. It makes the WR-V good fun to drive around. The engine has enough low-end grunt. The color changing speedometer keeps you aware of your economy, but the WR-V is a fun vehicle to drive. Why so? It comes with a fabulous suspension system that absorbs bad surfaces without hiccups while still being stiff enough to save the vehicle from any body roll.

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The electric power steering of the WR-V is perfectly sized. It also gains weight with speed, inducing a lot of confidence to take corners at good speeds and also lane changes. The biggest advantage is the size of the gear lever. It is quite short and gets into the slots without any difficulty. The diesel version of the car comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, but the sixth gear of mainly for highway use.

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Driving in the plains – The WR-V may look big, but it is the narrowest vehicle in the segment. Inside the city limits, the WR-V can easily take up on the narrow spaces and can also get into cramped roads without much difficulty. The car has a moderately long first gear, which allows it to crawl in the heavy traffic situation without the need of touching the gear lever much.The clutch is also not heavy, and it does not take a toll on your left leg. Overall, the city drive remains relaxed, quick and worry-free because of its narrow width.

On the highways, the WR-V stays pretty planted. The fifth gear is the most used gear on the highways too unless you’re driving laid-back, wanting to build up the mileage. The sixth gear is very tall, and at speeds of 110 km/h, does not have enough acceleration to confidently overtake. You will have to shift to fifth to get ample power. The WR-V cruises at 100 km/h at around 1,800 rpm in sixth gear, and this boosts mileage. The car also gets cruise control, which is quite useful on the empty highways. We got a fuel efficiency of 23 km/l on mixed city and highway traffic with the total use of 550 km.

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What about the mountains? The WR-V has the best power-to-weight ratio in the segment among the diesel vehicles. Which translates into quick acceleration. The car is a breeze to drive uphills and the turbo kicks in 1,800 rpm, which is decent. The best part of the WR-V is the third gear. You can shift to the third gear at a low of 35 km/h without any knocking and stay in it till a very high speed.

The tall third gear pretty much sorts out the mountain driving. The stiff suspension also allows you to take corners at good speed, making the overall drive much engaging and fun. The WR-V is a pretty quick car to drive in the mountains if you enjoy the twisted roads. We got a fuel efficiency fo 18.3 km/l on total mountain distance of 600 km.

Should you buy it?

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The WR-V is a very practical car and comes loaded with features. The WR-V is more expensive than both Brezza and the EcoSport, yet the vehicle is doing quite well in the market. The WR-V has bold, and rugged looks, which is one of its major selling points. The WR-V will be a wise choice in the segment if you want an uncommon vehicle and of course, the Honda brand image.

What we loved the most?

  • Short gear throws
  • Sunroof
  • Suspension set-up
  • Large windows
  • Steering weight

What could have been better?

  • The infotainment unit has a lag. While playing a video through phone (video on phone and audio on the system), the audio could not be synced.
  • No rear AC vent. The car becomes hot quite quickly due to big windows and sunroof. A rear AC would have made things better.
  • Plastic quality on the door arm rest. It is bit hard and harsh too.
  • No speed sensing door lock. A car at this price should have speed sensing auto door locks for convenience.
  • There is no adjustable rear headrest too, which increases whiplash injury possibilities.