Honda WR-V (2020) Launch Review

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Honda has introduced its WR-V in South Africa. We travelled to Franschhoek in the Western Cape to attend the media presentation of the Japanese brand's new compact crossover and find out what it has to offer!

The newcomer (a rival to the Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Hyundai Venue) is the 4th softroader in Honda's line-up after the BR-V, HR-V and CR-V. Honda South Africa has high hopes that the WR-V, which shares its platform with the Jazz and BR-V, will sell briskly in a downsizing market.

The WR-V features typical Honda styling cues, such as its chrome-wing grille flanked by LED headlights (Elegance trim), LED daytime running lights and C-shaped taillights. It has a handy ground clearance of 177 mm and rides on 16-inch alloy wheels as standard. Roof rails add further flair to the overall design and a total of 4 exterior body colours are available, including Platinum White, Radiant Red, Lunar Silver and Modern Steel. 

What’s it like to drive? 

The WR-V's performance lacks the punch offered by its turbocharged rivals. 

Buyers have the choice of 2 WR-V derivatives in either 1.2 Comfort or 1.3 Elegance guise. Both are powered by a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine with peak outputs of 66 kW and 110 Nm of torque. The new model is exclusively available with a 5-speed manual transmission (curiously, there are no immediate plans to introduce a CVT automatic transmission) and Honda claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.4 L/100 km. 

With a mere 110 Nm on tap, the WR-V quickly runs out of puff on long uphill sections, but to its credit, it gets up to (and maintains) highway speeds easily enough. The 5-speed manual transmission was specifically developed for the WR-V and the stubby gear lever has a positive action.

The ratios are closely spaced, which means you'll be gearing up and down fairly often to squeeze the best from the engine, especially on uphills. It’s also worth noting the WRV’s performance at altitude (Gauteng) will be a bit more sluggish than during our trundle on the Cape's backroads. 

In terms of handling, the WR-V felt surprisingly sure-footed at speed and, unlike some of its rivals, the newcomer's steering provides a modicum of feedback through the 'wheel... While our test drive was brief, we look forward to having the WR-V on test so that we can get fully accustomed to it. 

What about the interior? 

Perceived interior build quality is good and in Elegance guise, the WR-V comes well-equipped with standard features. 

Like it’s larger siblings, the Honda WR-V’s interior appears well-screwed together. Yes, harder plastics dominate, but they are hard-wearing. 

The range-topping 1.2 Elegance is equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with 6 speakers), which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus it supports Bluetooth telephony and music streaming, as well as app-based navigation. The Comfort derivative, however, is fitted with a more rudimentary 5-inch touchscreen setup, albeit with Bluetooth functionality. 

Other convenience features include a multifunction steering wheel, fabric upholstery, electric windows, auto aircon and rear parking sensors. The Elegance derivative gains additional nice-to-haves such as a reverse-view camera, keyless entry (with push-button start) and cruise control. 

The most impressive aspect of the WR-V, however, is its sheer practicality. Not only does it offer a relatively spacious load bay (Honda claims a capacity of 363 litres), it features Honda’s "Magic Seat" system (as featured in the Jazz), which means the rear seats can be configured in myriad ways to accommodate the load you need to transport. With the 60:40 split seats folded down, load space increases to a useful 881 litres. 

The best part of all is that rear leg- and knee room is truly generous for a car of this size and taller passengers will certainly appreciate the extra space at the back. In terms of safety, both derivatives of the WR-V come equipped with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, as well as brake assist.  

Honda WR-V Price in South Africa (November 2020)

The WR-V joins a competitive segment but aggressive pricing will bode well for its market acceptance in SA.

The Honda WR-V is competitively priced against its equivalent rivals in such as the Ford EcoSport (from R297 400), Renault Captur (from R289 900) and the Hyundai Venue (from R301 500).     

1.2 Comfort   R289 900
1.2 Elegance R319 900

The WR-V is sold with a 5-year/200 000 km warranty, 4-year/60 000 km service plan and 3-year AA Roadside Assistance. 

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