Over the past five years, Honda as a franchise in the UK, somewhat lost it’s way. Despite producing high quality, reliable & in some cases ahead of their time cars, the decision makers at Honda got into the habit of making the wrong decisions when it came to replacing existing models, mostly by mis-reading where the market would go next. Take the HR-V for example. Launched in 1999, it built up a loyal following who liked it’s combination of sporty looks & practicality, that was more in keeping with a small SUV than a small hatchback. Then in 2005, Honda decided to end production of the HR-V, effectively leaving the supermini-SUV segment, just as several other manufacturers launched into it. Think Nissan Juke & Vauxhall Mokka. More recently, Renault’s Captur, Mazda’s CX-3 & Peugeot’s 2008 launched into this sector, all eager to have a slice of the pie, making Honda’s decision seem a little bit of a head scratcher.
Launched in early 2016, Honda have re-launched the HRV, this time based on the Jazz platform & have created a supermini-SUV on the outside with the interior space of the larger mini-SUV’s like the Nissan Qashqai. In the UK the HR-V is offered in S, SE, SE Navi and EX trims with all models coming with climate control, cruise control & automatic headlights. However, Honda are only offering the new HR-V with two engines & in 2WD. A brand new 128bhp 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol or a 118bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel, the model that CCV tested & the one most likely to appeal to SME’s.
Looks-wise, the HR-V is clearly a Honda, looking like a smaller version of the CRV, but at the same time it does bear some resemblance to Mazda’s CX3, which is not bad thing, with more conservative looks than the Marmite enduring Juke.The front features a large Honda badge, a gloss-black grille, air intakes above & below, a pair of angular headlamps with LED daytime running lights inside these. The rear door handles are hidden in the C-pillars,& the doors feature bold creases which make the sides more interesting. At the rear, the back window, tailgate & tail-lights could be from a plethora of similar cars.
The HR-V at 4294 mm is 159 mm longer than a Nissan Juke, but feels much larger inside than Juke. The boot capacity is massive 470 litres, 40 litres bigger than the Qashqai. Fold the rear seats down & this goes up to 1,533 litres, around 50 litres smaller than the Qashqai, but interestingly 250 more than the CX-3 & almost 350 more than the Juke. Throw in Hondas ‘Magic Seats’ where the rear seats bottoms can be folded up against the back seats to prevent luggage rolling around & the HR-V really is a brilliantly practical little car.
Inside the cabin, all is calm with a Civic inspired black dashboard. There’s a row of three slender air vents in front of the passenger seat.The centre console is finished in gloss-black trim. The dash also features a touch-sensitive climate control panel, which after a few attempt , you get used to & works really well. The touchscreen multimedia system is the same system found across the Honda range, as is the multifunction steering wheel. Front passengers get plenty of room & you could if required fit 3 adults in the rear.
Honda are keen to promote how safe their cars are. All models feature driver, passenger, side & curtain airbags front & rear, ABS, EBD, brake assist, vehicle stability assist, hill start assists & a city braking active system. All but entry level S models also have forward collision warning, intelligent speed limiter, lane departure warning, high beam support & a traffic recognition system. Impressive.
The infotainment system is excellent too, with Honda Connect & Garmin Nav on my EX test car, hands-free Bluetooth, two USB & even 2 HDMi connections on offer. The EX also features smart entry & exit, a panoramic open glass sun roof, a rear view camera, leather interior, thankfully from heated seats, LED headlights, LED day time running lights, rear privacy glass & roof rails. Lifted from SE model are 17” alloys, leather steering wheel & gear knob, front & rear parking sensors, rain sensing wipers, front fog lights, electrically folding door mirrors & from the S model cruise control, dusk sending headlights, heated door mirrors, climate control, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls & a DAB CD tuner.
Witha family of 4 plus dog, the HR-V ticked all our boxes. The cabin was airy & light thanks to the glass sun roof & there was plenty of room in the back for my growing teenage son to stretch out & still leave room for his sister & the dog. The boot will easily carry 4 medium sized suit cases & would be ideal as a holiday hire car because of this. The boot was also a good size for our dog who was able to jump in & out easily thanks to the flat floor.
Fully laden, the HR-V feels a bit sluggish around town but once up to motorway speeds moves along quite nicely. It handles well, with very little body roll around bends & when driving alone I really enjoyed it as it feels faster then the 10.5 seconds from 0-62mph claimed. Fuel economy’s good as well, with the diesel unit returning 68.9 mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions of 108g/km. In the Walker real world test of about 350 miles, featuring all types of driving, we managed to average 51.4 mpg & that was using the normal driving system & not utilising Hondas ECO button which if engaged, should increase this figure upwards of 55 mpg. For us this was a real result as we rarely if ever average much more than 40 mpg in the family MINI Countryman diesel.
In conclusion, I & my family really liked the HR-V. It looks good, drives well, is well equipped, contains load of safety stuff & will average over 50 mpg. What’s not to like ? My only fear for the HR-V is that Honda aren’t shouting about it loudly enough. It’s a Jazz sized car with Qashqai pretensions & Honda should be telling everyone about it. I expect that it will sell for fun in North America in petrol format, but as a diesel car here in the UK, competing in the C Class sector it would be great alternative up against the likes of the Ford Focus & the new Vauxhall Astra as well as offering more space than the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke & Mazda CX-3. The HR-V deserves to do well.
CCV rating 4/5.