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Honda WRV first impressions and drive review

Saturday, June 3, 2017

/ by Srikanth Eswaran

Introduction to Honda WRV


I had the chance to give my Civic for service at Dakshin Honda. During that time, I got a chance to look at the Honda WRV and drive the car. From a long time after reading many reviews and watching many videos, today I got a chance to drive the car personally. I opted for the Diesel version since I know a good deal about Honda's petrol engines already being an owner of a Civic and a City earlier. The diesel engine is something new since sometime now and it was prudential for me to try it out.


Engine Options and Variants

As usual the car comes with two engine options a 1.2L petrol and a 1.5L diesel. The petrol is a 4 cylinder SOHC iVTEC engine at 1200 cc, churning out 90bhp of power at 6000 RPM and 110NM of Toruqe at 4800 RPM. The diesel on the other hand is a 4 cylinder DOHC iDTEC unit, at 1500 cc, churning out a 100bhp at 3600 RPM, and a torque of 200NM at 1750 RPM which is very healthy at least on paper. Among other features it comes with 16 inch alloy wheels which frankly in my opinion could very well upsize to 17 or even 18 inches.

On the variants there are two types SMT and VX-MT which I will explain a bit later.


Exteriors


The WRV has a muscular look, and while its sides are taken straight from the jazz, the front now sports a grill which has elements from the new Amaze, City, and BRV. Still there are few elements such as headlamps which are distinct and make the car gets its unique spot in the Honda lineup. The tail lamps are stylish too and unique in the segment. The overall exterior proportions are well rounded for a car of this category and no complaints in this department.


Interiors


Coming to the interiors, Honda has a few interesting things to look at. Firstly the dashboard is well made and feels plush and nice. The stereo system is very flat and does not stick out like in other cars. Blends well with the dash and its like a perfect fit. Though I did not get a chance to use the system too much, by the overall looks its a nice touch screen unit which does the job of what people look out most for - navigation, music, phone connectivity etc. However no Android Auto or Apple Car play - sorry, if you need these look elsewhere.



The seat space in the rear is phenomenal. Being 5'10" and keeping the driver seat at my comfort level, I could still sit at the back with quite some knee room to spare. There is one another thing Honda have changed since quite some time now. And that is the gear shift. The earlier shift was like a stick and was rather flimsy to use with a rounded head. The new one is much better and is a delight in terms of proportions and slots seamlessly into the different gears. The dashboard has more rectangular edges rather than circular and this is not necessarily so bad looking either. Its just left to the tastes of different users as such.


You can also notice in the images that there is indeed a dead pedal and Honda have thankfully not omitted it. Your longer highway cruises would now be better with that rested left leg. And yes needless to say top end variants will come with cruise control as well as steering mounted audio and phone controls. There are also lots of cubby holes in the car making it possible to store multiple things all around. The middle storage compartment has some Civic-ish cues as well though not as good. You can also notice a chilled cup holder next to the AC vent in the photos.


The selling point in this car is the Sun-Roof. No other car in its category provides this feature and Honda have done in offering this feature here. However the practicality of such a feature is questionable as driving with an open sun roof would surely affect the aerodynamics of the vehicle a bit. In Indian conditions with so much dust, pollution, mosquitoes, rains, and what not - this feature would best be in closed mode, rather than the other way round. Not a big deal breaker for sensible people - honestly.


Wouldn't mind having it, but won't die to have it.


The front seats also have rear pockets to place those magazines and possibly even a Macbook Air or so. The rear has ample space for occupants. The floor height is slightly raised for middle occupant, so it would be a bit uncomfortable for longer journeys and one will need to switch places frequently. You can also notice a quarter glass after the C-Pillar which adds to more roominess and light within the cabin.


Drive

I specifically wanted to test drive the 1500 Diesel as I had never driven a Honda Diesel before. Given I own a Civic now which is 1800cc, I did not want to drive the lack lustre 1200cc petrol of the WR-V. So diesel it had to be and diesel it was. A few things about this drive

  1. The test drive route was long enough for me to test most parts of the driveability but short enough to return to base soon as well
  2. The engine is noisy - there have been reviews about the Honda's noisy diesel engine in its other cars such as Jazz, Amaze, City etc and here its no better. If you buy this variant the noise comes along with you
  3. The steering is butter smooth - even better than the city or the civic I would say. Its an absolute joy to use in whatever condition of traffic. It is so sensitive, responsive and accurate that you really don't have to try too much to manouvre
  4. In the showroom the clutch of the WR-V was very hard in stationary state of the vehicle so I was dreading whether it would be as hard during the drive as well but I am happy to say that the clutch was super soft and easy to use during the drive and rest assured you will not get a pain in your legs so soon with this car
  5. There is no automatic variant yet, but if news reports are correct then Honda might bring in the 1.5L variant mated to CVT just like in the city pretty soon
  6. There is a 2 month waiting period on this car now already


Engine and NVH

And now to the drive. Well I hate to say this - but the diesel engine - is a disappointment. Coming from driving a Nissan Sunny which is known for its young at heart and roaring to race character, this WR-V engine seemed to be mostly tuned for more mileage and subsequently that meant removing the driving oomph from the car. This is more of a Point A to Point B engine. Sometimes I felt this was worse than an automatic Jazz. I am not sure what Honda was thinking here but people do not buy diesel just for mileage but also for proper use of the higher powered engine. If you have driven the Nissan Sunny Diesel, or the Scorpio or XUV diesel, or even Figo or Ecosport diesel - that level of urgency, revv happiness, and response is sorely missing. I double checked many times just to clarify this doubt and this car shows no urgency for acceleration on this variant.


Accelerating this engine makes so much noise inside the vehicle that one wonders what is all that damping setup doing in the car. Engine noise will filter through easily and its not a great experience as such. Just for comparision - you cannot hear the Civic engine inside the car. Apple to Orange comparision really I agree, but its a Honda to Honda comparison at least.


Torque

The grunt is there. But not the acceleration accordingly. I even went real slow on higher gears to check the torque. The torque is disappointing too. Beyond a point - say about 10kmph the car starts rattling begging for clutch to be held. This is quite where the Nissan Sunny shines through - low end torque. Even the Civic manages upto 5kmph on petrol engines without stalling. Honda sure has to rework on this tuning to improve it to a better state of tune if they want the torque to be managed better.


Suspension

The suspension in the WR-V is spongy. And it is really spongy. You go on a road hump or a deep pothole with speed and this car throws the occupants either sideways or bobs up and down. That is quite normal on any car, but the whole point is that this jumping about does not settle down so easily. Even with 210mm of ground clearance you still fear it will go all the way down to scrape the bump. And that is definitely not a good feeling. For a comparison I do not get that feeling with my Celerio, or even for that matter with the Duster too. I wouldn't say Scorpio is great in that regard but there are some smaller cars that can put WR-V to shame.

Agreed this is not about making the suspension rigid but rather soft and luxurious. But it is seriously not helping in WR-V case to achieve what is desired. So its best you drive this car slowly and steadily. If you want road worthiness and suspension awesomeness go to a renault showroom.


Steering

One word : Awesome. Period.


Airconditioning

This is one department for which Honda is well known for and in the case of WR-V it is no surprise that the air conditioning is super cool. Chills you to the bone and pretty quickly. Well done Honda.


Tyres, Ground clearance

The tyres are stable and can be upsized as well by another inch or two if needed - so lots of customization possible here. Ground clearance is good enough to ensure vehicle does not scrape anywhere.


Pricing & Conclusion


The asking price for top variant is higher than Ford Ecosport by almost 75000-80000 and touches nearly 13 lacs on road. Ford provides 6 airbags which Honda offers only two for instance. There are so many features others offer which Honda may not have. The car is steeply priced no doubt and the going points for this car is mileage, space, ground clearance, feature set and steering - though not necessarily a punchy drive. You can download the brochure here.


In the long run this car would keep you satisfied and won't get damaged due to bad roads in and around city. Highway trips won't be exciting but rather sedate as the car would likely pick up speed at steady speed and does not like to be revved. Honda should quickly fix the pedal press versus response time problem in order to make this car even better. They can focus on better damping of engine noise within the car as well and provide an option to have sporty suspension as well which is slightly more rigid.


If this car were to have its top variant at 10 lacs this would have been the best value for money in the market so far. But Honda is like any other company and after all it has to price the car either slightly below or slightly above its competitors. So it has decided to be in the 10-12L bracket.


Still this is a car that will keep you happy even though some parts of the experience is slightly disappointing or not upto the mark. If you have the money and want a car that has mostly everything - the WR-V will not disappoint you. But at the end of the day it is a car, not an SUV or even an MUV for that matter. The traits of an SUV are great suspension, handling abilities and punchy engine - Honda has some catching up to do in this departments.


And without an automatic variant - its one star less again for the final ratings.

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