It's no surprise that the 2023 Honda WR-V is coming to Malaysia very soon, which is why Honda Malaysia took some of the country's motoring media members to Thailand for a short taste of what the small SUV has to offer.
Our trip's goal was simple - drive Thailand's range-topping Honda WR-V RS spec from Bangkok to Pattaya in the span of three days and experience for ourselves what the compact SUV is capable of in different driving scenarios much similar to ours here in Malaysia.
From city driving with traffic jams to highway travel, here are five reasons why believe that the 2023 Honda WR-V will be a popular model once it is officially launched in the Malaysian market (NOTE: expect some minor changes between the Thai-spec WR-V from ours once it arrives).
At first glance, the 2023 Honda WR-V certainly has the ability to stand out amongst the crowd despite its 'smaller than usual' stature. In the current market, the closest and probably only competitor it has is the Perodua Ativa when you look at the dimensions.
While the Perodua Ativa might be slightly longer in terms of length and wheelbase, the Honda WR-V arguably has a better road presence thanks to its wider stance and lower height. The numbers might not be that far apart between the Honda WR-V and Perodua Ativa, but one thing is for sure - it's hard to deny its good looks, especially when riding on those 17-inch dual-tone rims.
For fellow Honda fans, you might be able to spot a few 'inspirations' from other Honda models in the WR-V. The front end is garnished with LED headlights and sequential turn signals plus chrome pins in the grille certainly have that HR-V look and feel with a few dashes from the City and Amaze.
The same can be said about the side profile, but perhaps the most outstanding exterior angle has to be from the rear where those rear lights reminded us of the Honda Civic FE. While the Ignite Red Metallic with the black roof combination looks modern and sporty, we somehow prefer the WR-V finished in either the Gray Meteoroid Metallic or even White Taffeta. Cantik.
Step inside the cabin and you are welcomed with an interior finish that resembles the second-generation Honda BR-V. It's a nice and simple yet adequate setup to accommodate your everyday drives from the meter combination display with a 4.3-inch TFT screen, a central 7-inch infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, big buttons for the AC controls, and plush seats all around.
Don't be discouraged about the slightly smaller appearance from the outside because the WR-V's interior certainly feels nice and not too small for comfort. Designed to deliver for your everyday drives, the support of the front seats is adequate despite having less thigh support if you're taller than the average Asian height (170cm or taller).
If being tall is the case, then a few minor adjustments are needed to get comfortable for longer drives. That being said, the back seats offer a more enjoyable experience for the passengers. There's enough room for the legs and heads of your passengers and those big rear side windows do offer a more spacious sense of space.
The boot space capacity of 363 litres should be adequate enough for a small family to travel around and based on our experience travelling in Thailand with our own luggage (three adults altogether), boot capacity shouldn't be too much of a concern for those who are interested in getting this small SUV.
Equipped with a 1.5-litre i-VTEC DOHC engine, the Honda WR-V produces 121PS and 145Nm of torque - similar figures that can be found in the non-hybrid Honda City and HR-V models. With a smaller and lighter presence, this particular powertrain with a CVT gearbox modulating the power to the front wheels, we can honestly say that driving the Honda WR-V was indeed fun and easy.
Working the accelerator and brake pedals are wonderful, especially in congested city situations and as you get it to speed for highway driving, it's basically a no-drama experience. Stomping hard on the accelerator pedal might result in a slightly louder engine noise, but to us, it's still very much in the acceptable audio range.
Perhaps the best driving comfort level can be experienced somewhere between 80km/h to 110km/h where the WR-V just purrs and glides in a smooth and silky fashion. Despite being a bit jumpy during our first leg of travel near Bangkok, the suspension pretty much soaked up most of the road imperfections. They're not the best, but they're certainly good.
We also adored how nimble the WR-V was in navigating through tight spots and traffic jams thanks to its nimbleness, ease of working the steering wheel, and very impressive turning radius. For those who love going to shopping malls that offer compact parking spots, the Honda WR-V should be able to deliver with ease.
Fuel consumption on paper is rated at 16.7km/l and we got around 14km/l. To be fair, we did push to speeds between 120km/h-140km/h while we were on the highways, so getting 16.7km/l can be attained easily if you're driving more sensibly.
Just like most Honda models, the Honda WR-V also comes with the Honda SENSING safety package. The Thai RS spec model comes with some very useful features such as:
Simple things like the Honda LaneWatch offering a real-time video feed of the car's blindspot on the rear left side certainly help in safely changing lanes and the Adaptive Cruise Control helped a lot in making those highway travels a more pleasant experience. Very good things to have, especially if you constantly find yourselves in traffic congestion on a daily basis.
For this one, we're not entirely sure just yet but Honda Malaysia is planning to sell a lot of these in the local market and one way of making sure of this is to introduce a competitive and attractive price tag for its latest entry-level SUV model.
In Thailand, the Honda WR-V RS starts from 799,000 baht (around RM106k), but we can most likely expect it to be somewhere closer to RM90,000 once it enters the Malaysian market. This, however, is based on our best-educated guess as the Honda WR-V in Indonesia is priced from Rp 274 million (around RM85k) for the automatic variants.
There should be at least two different variants for the Honda WR-V once it arrives on Malaysian shores. Expect the official launch to be within the third quarter of 2023 and once it's available at dealers nationwide, do register for a test drive. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
Sep is a firm believer in the saying "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" rather than "When in doubt, throttle it out". Drive safely, ride defensively, and most importantly, don't get hangry.