Honda WR-V | Exploring the majestic lakes around Pune
Squint enough and this would pass off as Lake ComoShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Honda WR-V | Exploring the majestic lakes around Pune

The Honda WR-V takes us on a fast paced run, chasing great photographs alongside the lakes around Pune

Road-tripping in the Honda WR-V

It was a mad rush all morning. Racing the rotation of the earth isn’t easy, especially when you wake up to your photographer ringing your doorbell and animatedly pointing at his wrist. He would be yelling, but it was 4:30am and he’d have to deal with my annoyed neighbours if they woke up. We had a sunrise to catch at the gorgeous Mulshi lake, and if we missed it, it would mean dragging ourselves out of beds at this ungodly hour a second day in a row. Not something I was looking forward to. Flooring the loud pedal on the Honda WR-V, we went tearing out of town. Traffic was non-existent but we did have to watch out for a few enthu-cutlets that were out jogging and cycling while still dark. How do these people do it every morning? I was still bleary eyed, taking large swigs of the extra-strong coffee I made the night before, waiting for the caffeine to flood my bloodstream.

Two hours later, I was awake… but I was lost. We were definitely somewhere worthy of catching the sunrise. Shutterbug Abhishek Benny seemed to have calmed down after realising he probably wouldn’t have to deal with me on another early morning shoot, and he was perched on a nearby hillock working his cameras. But I genuinely had no idea how we got here, and Vodafone’s dismal network was being of no help. You see, we caught up with friend of evo India Ajay Adhiya just out of Pune and very obediently followed him all the way here. Ajay drives a Honda WR-V as well, albeit a pre-facelift compact SUV, and is a lawyer by day. But by night (and 4:30am is the middle of night for most of us), Ajay sets out looking for great roads to drive on around Pune. He genuinely is a treasure trove of knowledge, pointing out at unassuming turn-aways from the main road and rattling away what I’d find at the end of each one of them.

Exploring uncharted territories in the WR-V compact SUV

The WR-V has the ability to go beyond the tarmac
The WR-V has the ability to go beyond the tarmacShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

We were somewhere around the Mulshi lake, but we had turned off the main Tamhini ghat road and were on a back-road of sorts that ran along the reservoir. It was a spectacular sight, almost hard to believe that this was just two hours away from where I lived. One and a half, if I drove like I did this morning. The sun was bathing the valley in its warmth, shards of light glinting off the lake’s surface and sparking on the dew-covered hills. The blues, the greens — they were all so vivid and the red WR-V was quite a sight against it. Squint enough, and this would pass off as Lake Como. Until you hear someone call out in Marathi.

The WR-V gets new LED headlamps and redesigned grille
The WR-V gets new LED headlamps and redesigned grilleShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

We would not have caught this view if it wasn’t for the Honda WR-V, though. The roads getting to Mulshi are beyond dismal. They seem to be neglected all year round, and at their delightful worst right after the monsoons. And while I do have a whole repository of choice words for whoever developed that road, I will hold back because the monsoons really come down strongly here. I actually studied in a boarding school in these hills, and we used to have ‘monsoon vacations’ for a whole month-and-a-half instead of summer vacations like everyone else in the country. Our grounds would get flooded, sports wasn’t a possibility and all that pent up adolescent energy would come out in the classroom. The teachers simply couldn’t deal with it.

It’s the sort of car that you don’t mind waking up at 4:30am for, because it can take you to places like this!
It’s the sort of car that you don’t mind waking up at 4:30am for, because it can take you to places like this!Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

The raised ride height of the Honda WR-V had dealt with roads rather well, though. Honda’s compact SUV isn’t your run of the mill car — that’s pretty apparent from the cladding and the roof rails. It has been designed to head out of the city, off the tarmac and out exploring. A regular hatchback would not have allowed me to be as indifferent to the road conditions as the WR-V did. If I were to borrow from the rallying dictionary, I sent it. And if I had done the same on a hatchback, we’d have reached the location without bumpers, this magazine would have reached you without this story, and there’s a small possibility that I would have been left without a job. Nothing so dramatic with the WR-V — it was returned with all parts intact, and I’m still gainfully employed at this magazine.

Summary

Honda WR-V features and engine

The engine is torqey and pulls the WR-V along well
The engine is torqey and pulls the WR-V along well Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

The WR-V I was driving is new for 2020. It gets minor updates on the outside — new LED headlamps, a fresh grille and LED taillamps as well. It isn’t radical, but these bits do lend a sense of sophistication to the WR-V. On the inside, not much has changed but that isn’t a bad thing as the interiors of the WR-V are a highlight. Up front, you have great visibility thanks to the forward-set cabin and sharply raked bonnet. The driving position is comfortable and the controls are all accessible. Meanwhile, in the rear you have class leading space! When we put the WR-V up against a whole bunch of compact SUVs, we concluded it had the most knee room. The camera bag in the backseat of our car had no knees, but should you want to take people along in the WR-V, it will be a rather comfortable affair.

The shifts have short throws and feel great
The shifts have short throws and feel greatShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

The engine deserves a mention as well — the 1.5-litre diesel has plenty of grunt, putting out peak torque of 200Nm. There’s so much low down shove that you don’t even need to touch the accelerator when getting off the clutch, even on an incline. The gearshifts have short throws and are closely spaced, and picking up speed is a breeze. Overtaking on these narrow roads was far easier with that sort of performance on tap. And the best bit about diesels is that while giving you all the performance you want, they’re efficient too!

Updates for 2020 include new LED lighting both at the rear and front
Updates for 2020 include new LED lighting both at the rear and frontShot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

Ajay didn’t stick around for too long. Our shoots look very dynamic but they involve a lot of thumb twiddling and feet-shuffling as the camera guys work their magic. We got even more lost trying to find our way back, but eventually found a semblance of familiar roads in the afternoon. We were miles from where we started out, but figured that Pavana lake wasn’t too far away. We thought giving Pavana a shot for sunset wouldn’t be a bad idea what with how dramatic the sunrise at Mulshi was. But, mother nature was in no mood to live out my overachieving intentions — hitting two lakes in one day, and all of that — and sent some heavy clouds and fog our way. So much for that.

The WR-V allowed us to get properly close to the lakes
The WR-V allowed us to get properly close to the lakes Shot by Abhishek Benny for evo India

We did end up with some great pictures by the end of the day. And the WR-V played no small role in that. For starters, it got us to where we needed to be in time. But more than that, it isn’t afraid to wander off tarmac and get its boots dirty. It’s a car that you don’t need to think twice about taking out exploring and that’s where the joy of driving lies. It pushes you to explore, it forces you outside your comfort zone. It’s the sort of car that you don’t mind waking up at 4:30am for, because it can take you to places like this!

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