It’s a rather simple recipe. Take an existing car’s platform, make it look beefier by adding a bit of cladding to the same body shape, chuck in some funky wheels, some ambitious roof-rails, and once you market the hell out of it, well, it’s all-new, isn’t it? We’ve been subjected to quite a bit of this faux ‘ruggedness’ (think Hyundai i20 Active, VW Cross Polo and the oddity that was the Toyota Etios Cross), and it’s about time it stopped.
The Honda WR-V you see here isn’t exactly the solution that’s needed, but it’s a heck of a credible effort, that’s for sure; it’s essentially a Jazz that’s been propped up and made to look a lot easier on the eyes. Whereas the other examples I cited a few lines ago primarily had additions to the existing body, the WR-V, to the casual eye, looks like an all-new product, which is a good thing. The kind of people interested in this segment are looking out for something that will distinguish them from the herd, so that’s a job well done, Honda. The beefy front, the lashings of chrome, the raised ground clearance and the puzzled-looking rear makes for a car that looks like nothing else on the roads currently. The headlights get daytime-running LEDs, and the 16-inch alloys look good, although it would have had a more purposeful stance were it not shod with the ‘oh-mygoodness-there’s-no-grip’ 195 section tyres. If you’d like me to quantify it, the WR-V is 44mm longer, 40mm wider and 57mm taller than the Jazz, and even its wheelbase is up by 25mm. Most people, however, won’t care about these details.
What they’ll be interested in, after having a look at it from the outside, is what the interior is like, and it’s here that Honda probably missed a trick. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, but there’s hardly anything in there that’s different from the Jazz. While it is easier to get in and out thanks to its new stance, the similar black theme is carried over onto the WR-V. So it’s the usual mix of an airy cabin, comfortable seats, legible dials, controls that fall easily to hand and a handbrake that’s absolutely magical when you’re in the mood for some ill-advised and nonsensical power-sliding. The bit that is new, however, is a 7-inch touchscreen that has the usual accompaniments (USB, Bluetooth, Aux and a weird wallpaper), but the user interface is something that’s decidedly prehistoric. There’s also cruise control and a start-stop button, but that’s only available on the diesel.
What we like
Design, ease of use, diesel engine
What we don’t
Underpowered petrol engine
That leaves the small matter of how it drives, and if you’ve driven the Jazz, there’s no surprises here. It gets the same 1.2-litre petrol that constantly has the same thing to say to you at pretty much every point during the drive: “You’re in no particular hurry, right?” It’s all right if you’re going to be spending most of your time lazily clunking around in traffic, but even the slightest bit of open road will have the WR-V wheezing; it makes 88 bhp, and it’s decidedly under-powered for a car of this size and weight. You’d be better off with the 1.5-litre diesel that makes 98 bhp – it’s got a strong mid-range, and coupled with the light steering and new gearbox, it makes most commutes a pleasant affair. Curiously, though, the petrol gets a 5-speed manual, while the diesel gets a 6-speed unit. There’s no option of a CVT, because Honda doesn’t think the WR-V’s potential customers need one. All right, then.
If you’d like to get one, then you’ll have to cough up anywhere between Rs 7.75 lakh and Rs 9.99 lakh (ex- Delhi), and that’s quite a nice price for what you have on offer. Although I was a tad critical about a few aspects, it’s not like the WR-V doesn’t have its fair share of plusses. It’s a different take on this crossover business that seems to be picking up in India, and Honda’s got most of the approach to the WR-V done well.