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We’ve hit the ground running when it comes to new car launches; it seems the pandemic is well and truly over in the South African car market. This week saw the launch of the brand-spanking new Honda WR-V and so Terence and I headed to Franschhoek (oh, the wine!) to test drive this little newcomer.

WHAT IS IT?

The Honda WR-V is a small crossover that has taken its inspiration from its siblings, the Honda Jazz and the BR-V. It competes in one of the market’s fastest-growing segments and goes up against some very strong rivals: the Hyundai Venue, Volkswagen T-Cross, Ford EcoSport, and Renault Captur, to name a few. Needless to say, the WR-V has a lot to live up to.

LOOK AND FEEL

My first comment was that it was definitely smaller than that of the Venue or the T-Cross, but Terence pointed out that the car was parked on a hill and so appeared smaller… Oi! I didn’t believe him and so I looked up the dimensions. I am not thrilled to say he may have been right as it is almost identical in size to both the Venue and the T-Cross. Argh, I hate being wrong.

The cabin is rather spacious and rear legroom is ample. There is one area that needs a bit of improvement when it comes to space and it is in the most important place, the driver’s seat. I was more than fine, but I quite a bit shorter than Terence. He struggled and was unable to stretch out his leg, even with the seat pushed to its most rearward position. Combined with the throttle pedal being quite high, after a long trip he would certainly cramp up. But he is of the dramatic persuasion.

Standard specification on the Elegance model is good with a seven-inch touchscreen display audio system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and six speakers. While both models benefit from rear parking sensors, the Elegance gains an integrated reverse parking camera, cruise control and smart keyless entry with push-button start.

PRACTICAL PAM

The boot space is a claimed 363 litres and it offers Honda’s Magic Sea” system we have seen on both the Jazz and the HR-V. It means that the seats can be configured in several different ways to accommodate a variety of tall and long objects, making the WR-V a really practical offering.

DRIVING THE WR-V

Power is provided by a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine which produces 66 kW and 110 Nm. There is only a five-speed manual transmission available with no plans right now on a CVT entering our market. The engine is where the WR-V is let down. It feels underpowered, especially when compared to its turbocharged rivals such as the Venue and T-Cross. It strains under harsh acceleration and revs too high in fifth gear; a sixth gear would have been a welcome addition. Road and wind noise is also quite harsh in the cabin which is unfortunate when you consider that the ride is really good.

ROUNDING OFF

As much as I want to say that this WR-V will compete well with its rivals, I think the engine is where it will come unstuck. Customers in this segment aren’t necessarily after performance, but they certainly don’t want something sluggish, especially if it is loaded with kids and luggage. With that said, it makes for a really practical small family car that will be quite at home in the city and the suburbs, doing the general school and grocery runs.

PRICING

The new Honda WR-V comes standard with Honda’s five-year/200 000 km warranty and a four-year/60 000 km service plan.

Honda WR-V 1.2 Comfort MT: R289 900

Honda WR-V 1.2 Elegance MT: R319 900

Check out our little video below for a teeny bit more info.

About the Author: Juliet McGuire
Motoring journalist. Presenter. YouTuber. Podcaster. Voice artist. And everything in between.