Honda HR-V

   Practicality must have been high on Honda’s agenda when it came to designing the latest incarnation of their HR-V. Small and far more rounded externally than the original HR-V of 1999 it may be, but the latest entry into the ever growing compact crossover market is (Cliché coming up) positively Tardis-like on the inside. Families take note.

    The HR-V – that stands for High Rider Revolutionary Vehicle incidentally (Is it? I’ll let you decide after reading this) – is based on the Jazz. As a result it gets not only a bigger boot-space than Nissan’s all-conquering Qashqai, but also Honda’s Magic Seat system that enables the rear seat cushions to be folded up cinema-seat style thus creating a load space that’ll easily swallow a mountain bike whole – and upright too! And there’s even more load space under the boot floor. That said three adults abreast on the rear bench might be pushing things a tad too far.

   Further forward things are similarly commodious. The HR-V gets a slightly elevated driving position but still feels more like a conventional hatch-back when compared to the likes of its Juke, Mokka, or Kaptur competition. It does manage to feel more up-market than the majority of its contemporaries though.

   There’s barely a button on the HR-V’s beautifully clear dashboard. Instead, a touch sensitive console controls the air-con and (in certain specs the heated seats). On SE trim and above a 7-inch touchscreen takes care of the sat-nav, radio, bluetooth and all-important these days, apps. It is a bit fiddly at first to be honest, and you do find yourself diverting your gaze from the road sometimes in order to make an adjustment, but you get used to it with time, eventually learning where and what to reach for. The majority of the other controls, indicator and wiper stalks, multi-function steering wheel etc. appear to have been lifted straight out of the Honda parts-bin. No complaints there. And needless to say everything’s been assembled with Honda’s usual fastidious attention to detail.  

    Despite the chunky and heavily sculpted go-anywhere looks, Honda have decided that we Europeans don’t need a 4-wheel drive version of the HR-V. It’s front-wheel drive or nothing. And, their only offering a choice of two engines – a new 1.5 litre petrol, or the 1.6 litre diesel as previously seen in the Civic. Both motors are available with the option of a CVT auto that, it is claimed, increases the HR-V’s already frugal running costs ever further.

   My advice would be to save the £1,100 and swap gear ratios yourself. The six-manual fitted to the 1.6 DTEC diesel I spent a week driving was excellent. Not only does it make the most the 221lbft of torque on offer, but its short throw and beautifully weighted action would not feel out of place in anything this side of an MX-5. Honestly, it’s one of the HR-V’s stand-out features.

    The rest of the driving experience is, regrettably, not quite as sharp. The HR-V has clearly been made for those that appreciate comfort and ease of use rather than the last ounce of handling prowess.  Safe, secure and perhaps a bit stodgy, is the HR-V’s way. But it is comfy, relatively quiet at motorway speeds, easy to manoeuvre, fitted with a host safety kit there isn’t space to list, and capable (Honda say) of 68.9mpg on the combined cycle. I averaged high 50s out here in the hills.

     You’ll have probably worked out by now that the HR-V isn’t going to excite you. And if you get too involved come options list time it could be perceived as a bit expensive as well. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll be reliable, and come trade-in time Honda’s enviable residual values will have you smiling.

   If its practicality and ease of ownership you favour most, put the HR-V at the top of your shopping list. 



Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX Manual

Engine: 1,597cc, 4Cyl, 16V Petrol

Transmission: 6 speed manual. Front Wheel Drive

Power: 118 bhp @ 4000rpm

Torque: 221 lbft @ 2000 rpm

0-62mph: 10.5 sec

Max Speed: 119 mph

MPG: 68.9 combined.

CO2: 108 g/km

VED Band: B

Price: £26,055 (car driven £26,580)


Many thanks to Honda’s UK press office for the loan of the HR-V



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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