Honda’s WR-V is a great little SUV. But it’s crying for a little more power
Honda’s most recent response to the global shift to the Sport Utility Vehicle is an interesting one. Hailing from India and called WR-V, it’s actually a Jazz in get-up. And considering Fit is now the new Jazz, this one’s biggest point of difference, besides its crisper styling, is that WR-V is supposed to be an MPV rather than a hatchback like the Fit allegedly is!
THERE’S PLENTY OF POWER IN CHOICE
Got it? Don’t think we have either! Still, there’s plenty power in choice. So let’s just look at this MPV that some may say is a bit too closely related to its hatch sister, in its own right!
There’s no need to dig too deep to find the similarities — the basic Jazz chassis remains behind WR-V’s unique nose, tail and doors with exaggerated window lines. WR-V sits a bit taller though — 173 mm versus 135 mm high for a touch more presence. And it rolls on a fashionable set of machined black 16-inch alloys.
Being so closely related to the good old Jazz, the WR-V’s big plus points are practicality and versatility. There’s more than enough room for everyone, especially in the rear. Boot capacity is a useful 363 litres, where Honda’s ‘Magic Seat’ system converts the WR-V into a panel van at a couple of tugs at the appropriate levers and knobs. And this little Honda generously equipped for its price, too.
WR-V IS VERY WELL SPECCED A THE PRICE
Our Elegance tester added Android Auto and Apple CarPlay-packed 17.8 cm touchscreen infotainment to the already impressive base model’s audio system. Standard kit extends to a multi-function steering wheel, auto climate control, a height adjustable driver’s seat, power windows and mirrors as well as front and rear parking sensors. Elegance adds cruise control, push to start, a reverse camera and a leather-covered steering wheel.
Well passively safety specced too, with front, side and curtain airbags and Isofix child seat mounts, we did however find it odd that vital active safety aspects like stability control are absent from this mum’s taxi. Being based on the five-star Asian and Latin NCAP Jazz however adds kudos.
But this little MPV’s biggest challenge is its lack of oomph. It has Honda’s familiar normally aspirated 66 kW 110 Nm 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol four pot that pulls well enough in this cars little 900-odd kilo Amaze sibling. But the bloated 1,100 kg WR-V must be worked pretty hard just to keep up. So our local country roads and freeways soon had us lusting after a little more power, as our less than impressive road test figures also conclude below.
W-RV NEEDS A BIGGER ENGINE
Even hammering it wasn’t quite enough to maintain the desired pace on occasion — especially against a steeper incline. And if WR-V finds it difficult to keep pace at coastal climes, how badly will it struggle in a high altitude fast lane? Happily WR-V still impressed at the fuel pumps, in spite of us wringing it a tad too tightly by the neck to just get along. This one needs a 1.5-litre, Honda!
Of course none of that will matter very much if it’s primarily used as an urban runabout. Easy to drive, ergonomic and friendly, WR-V’s steering and gearknob are both Honda slick and nicely weighted, while ride quality is quite comfy at this level.
The Honda WR-V is a promising little car. It Jazzes up a successful recipe with a little SUV zing to help it stand out from the pack. Especially if you only drive in the suburbs and live at coastal altitudes. But that same pack will mostly leave it in its dust. So we’d be more than happy to pay the premium a better suited engine would bring. — Michele Lupini
Images: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Honda WR-V 1.2 Elegance Engine: 66 kW 110 Nm 1.2-litre petrol I4 Drive: 5-speed manual FWD TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 5.51 sec 0-100 km/h: 12.39 sec 0-120 km/h: 19.31 sec 400m: 18.5 sec @ 119 km/h 80-120 km/h: 12.32 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 155 km/h Fuel: 6.4 l/100 km CO2: 149 g/km Warranty/Service: 5y 200K/4y 60K km LIST PRICE: R327K RATED: 6