Honda had the Indian car markets on alert by launching the much awaited Honda BR-V yesterday. The compact SUV designed to slide into the price bracket of 7-9 lakhs was made with the intention of taking on the mighty Ford Ecosport, the Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Hyundai i20. And the WR-V has been received well. Estimates say that as many as 14000 pre-bookings have already been made. The booking amount has been stated at Rs 21,000 though it may vary from place to place. Deliveries are expected to start by the end of the month. We set out testing the 1.2 litre i-VTEC engine.
The BR-V promises some exciting features on paper and we were impressed by it’s aggressive styling. When it comes to features, the BR-V boasts of having a 7-inch DIGIPAD in the centre console which supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and satellite navigation. The only car as of now in this segment that supports these features. The screen was easy to use and the touch screen was responsive. Navigation around the menus was fairly easy and the large screen makes it easy to read while driving and you dont have to shift your attention entirely to the screen. The same screen turns into a rear camera view when the reverse gear is engaged. We found this to be a useful feature however there were no proximity sensors but i am told these can be added as accessories for an added cost.
Sticking to the interiors, the car has an unusually large dashboard top surface but a surprisingly small glove compartment. Storage options are provided under the middle arm rest and just ahead of the gear shifter. The seats were rather straight and we would’ve preferred a better design suited for longer drives. The console also supports HDMI, bluetooth connectivity, iPod support and aux input. The inbuilt navigation could not be tested as it needed an SD card which wasn’t present but is included after the purchase. In addition there is also an electronic sunroof which was easy to operate and a flap to cover it completely on the inside when not required. Driver and passenger side airbags come as standard, ABS and electronic brake force distribution are included.
Things looked promising for the WR-V and it looked like someone had finally taken car design and manufacturing seriously and the finished product ticked all the right boxes so far. A test drive was arranged and right away there was a problem. This is something no other car reviewer will mention because reviews are probably bought. But the car lacks power. Infact it has no power at all. The drive feels sluggish, almost as if it doesn’t want to move and you’re forcing it against it’s will. It feels grumpy and the throttle response is terrible. With a 1.2 litre engine delivering 89 BHP you would not expect things to be this bad. We found it a be quite a task even when we tried to overtake a slow moving auto rickshaw in front of us. Things get a little better if you turn off the air-conditioning but that is just sad isn’t it? Things were looking really great for the WR-V but this is a serious let down. Relatively the response of the Hyundai i20 is much better and much faster. You almost feel like you’re sitting on top of an elephant in the WR-V.
However things weren’t all bad on the test drive. I found the suspension to be quite brilliant and it dealt with the menacing road conditions rather well. The steering is light as a feather and it responds beautifully. The brake response was immediate and sustainable. Gear shifting was comfortable and smooth. The rear leg room is more than sufficient and the quality of the air conditioning was as expected. The in-built 8-speaker system packs quite a punch and delivers powerful bass. Voice clarity while making calls was as expected however the inbuilt horn was extremely shrill and annoying.
It feels like a disappointment in the end because you have a car that is brilliant and comes loaded with good features as standard; but it refuses to move. Honda should have focused on making the car lighter or maybe they should’ve considered adding more power. What we have in the end is a car that promises everything but cannot keep up with the expectations. And isn’t that just a sad day for motoring aficionados everywhere?
Expected prices are around 8.5 lakhs for the petrol S model and 9.85 lakhs for the petrol VX model. The diesel S model is expected to be around 9.7 lakhs and around 11 lakhs for the VX model.
We would strongly recommend that you consider other options instead. The Indian auto market offers a lot of other options in that price bracket. Swing and a miss from Honda.
image credits : Google image search.