What you’re looking at is Honda’s new crossover, the WR-V, which is based on the Jazz and is slated to be launched in India on March 16, 2017. We’ve already driven the diesel variant and you can read more about that version here. Honda proudly claims that this sporty lifestyle vehicle was built entirely in-house at their Indian R&D facility. Targeted at the young urban buyer, Honda expects the WR-V to quench the thirst for a compact car that can handle city traffic along with higher ground clearance to tackle both city challenges and weekend adventures.At first sight, you’d be hard-pressed to see the Jazz through the WR-V, and we eventually realised that only the cabin, drivetrain, platform, and certain body panels are shared. To put things in perspective, the WR-V has a 25mm longer wheelbase, is 44mm longer, 40mm wider, and 57mm taller than the Jazz. There’s a strong crossover trait thanks to the tough posture lent by the tall angular hood that holds the Honda signature chrome slab and sweptback head lamps, high ground clearance, deep creases on the panels and the cladding all across. Assuming that you’ve already read our diesel review, I shall just run through the exterior highlights. A rugged feel is brought about by the front fascia with the black cladding that also incorporates a silver skid plate. From the side, the WR-V shows off its larger 16-inch alloys with a high ground clearance (188mm over 165mm in Jazz), the roof rails and black cladding that extends over the wheel wells. The rear end is highlighted by the new tailgate with a lowered number plate, longer tail lamps, and a heavily cladded bumper with a skid plate.
The differentiating factor here, between the diesel and petrol WR-V, is that the latter does not get the push start smart entry system with related key, and the cruise control functions that appear on steering. Other than these differences, the cabin is exactly the same as we have detailed in the diesel WR-V review.
But just so that you’re updated, the huge cabin from the Jazz has been borrowed with the same dashboard and a few revisions. There’s a number of cubby spaces like the one to the driver’s side of the dash, lower centre console, inside the arm rest and door pads, to stash your belongings. An electric sunroof, and the 17.7cm touchscreen infotainment system (12.7cm on Jazz) called ‘Digipad’, equipped with MirrorLink and the latest in smartphone connectivity, find their way to the WR-V’s features list.
The seats now come in two new upholstery options which use double stitching and an attractive mesh form. ‘Urban Casual’ (on S variant) gets a black and bluish-grey seat fabric, while ‘Urban Sophisticated’ (on VX variant) has a black and silver combo (on VX variant). Slide onto the front seats and the first thing you’re reminded of, from the Jazz, is the airy cabin and good visibility due the large glass area.These large front seats have a good design. However, the support isn’t the best since they are a bit too soft, especially around the contours, which in-turn don’t hold you in place when going fast around bends. Then again, there’s loads of headroom and kneeroom for tall occupants too. The WR-V doesn’t get magic seats, which Honda says, is a small trade-off for the inclusion of other features like the better infotainment system and the sunroof. The rear bench is big enough to fit three passengers and there’s lot of headroom too, but it’s short on thigh support. Again, with loads of legroom and a flat floor that’s slightly angled upwards, it makes the overall seating posture quite comfortable. However, these seats don’t get a 60:40 split option and there aren’t any rear ac vents either. Honda claims the boot space has been increased from the Jazz’s 354-litres to 363-litres; a 9-litre increment that’s good for two small suitcases and a few soft bags.When the WR-V gets launched, there will be two variants called the S and VX. Features that find their way into the petrol VX version include auto climate control with touch panel, an electric sunroof, and a 17.7cm touchscreen system with MirrorLink, navigation and smartphone connectivity. Honda has confirmed that ABS with EBD with two front airbags will be standard while other features include a multi-angle rear view camera, two power outlets, two USB ports, an HDMI port, electrically adjustable and retractable external mirrors, rear wiper and a defogger.
As with the petrol Jazz, the WR-V gets the same 1.2-litre i-VTEC motor that produces 90bhp at 6,000rpm and 110Nm of torque at 4,800rpm. As of now, there are no plans to introduce the CVT gearbox in the petrol WR-V line-up. For now, Honda has coupled this engine to a new five-speed manual gearbox that’s equipped with shorter ratios to better the overall performance output from this engine. This can be seen in the ARAI fuel efficiency figures for the WR-V dropping from the Jazz’s 18.7kpl, to the new claim of 17.5kpl. It needs a note that the petrol WR-V also weighs up to 62kg more than the comparable Jazz.
Like most Honda petrol motors, this one is equally silent at idle and especially after driving the diesel, we felt the petrol WR-V’s cabin to be a lot more silent. Once off the mark, the WR-V is mostly eager to respond to throttle inputs, only at low speeds. It picks up pace in a linear fashion and as the momentum rises, you are left wanting for more especially in the mid-range. Plus, if you decide to venture to the 4,700rpm redline, you will get more engine noise than any increment in pace. As the mid-range is weak, it also means that you have to constantly downshift to stay in the power band for any spirited move, and plan your overtakes on those single-lane highways. Nevertheless, the gears shift accurately with a short throw along the precise gate. This ideally makes for an effortless gear shifting process which is further aided by the light clutch pedal.The Honda Jazz’s suspension has gone through a few revisions before fitment on the WR-V, like an increased wheelbase and track for better stability and the bigger 195/60 R16 tyres (175/65 R15 on Jazz). It also gets an additional 25mm length for the springs to aid the higher ground clearance, thicker anti-roll bars and increased rigidity of the knuckles and lower arm for better handling. After a drive in the WR-V, we confirmed that the changes definitely made the car feel tougher while driven over broken surfaces. Unlike the Jazz, there’s hardly any suspension noises filtering into the WR-V’s cabin, and the superior shock absorption from the longer springs at any speed is a welcome addition, especially while traversing potholed roads. On the flipside though, the ride gets bouncy over undulating surfaces and sharper bumps.The electric power steering on the petrol WR-V felt slightly lighter than the diesel counterpart and this has a lot to do with the absence of 100kg! It is reasonably quick off the dead centre and is accurate for most regular driving chores. Despite it not intended for sporty driving, the WR-V can stick to its line around a bend reasonably well with a fair amount of roll. It does roll more than the Jazz though. However, the thicker anti-roll bars seem to have cut down the extra roll that could have been brought about by the new taller springs. That said, there is some side-to-side rocking motion due to the softer springs and the higher centre of gravity. On the whole, the brakes were able to fulfil most regular requirements and there’s good feedback from the brake pedal during panic situations too.