Motoring: Honda's crossover regeneration
PUBLISHED: 12:30 29 June 2016
Honda has revived the HR-V badge for its new crossover. Good to drive and easy to live with, it should find favour with families, says motoring editor Andy Russell
It’s 10 years since Honda killed off the original HR-V sport utility vehicle, which was eclipsed by the bigger CR-V that did much to drive the soft-roader revolution.
It didn’t help that when launched in 1999, the HR-V had only three doors (a five-door followed), with only a petrol engine and came in some pretty lurid colours.
The old boxy HR-V was hardly a style statement but its successor is smart enough to get noticed in the blossoming crossover sector. The HR-V looks an overall well-rounded package which, according to Honda, marries the bold lines of a coupe with the tough stance of an SUV. It’s one of the better-looking crossovers and hard to fault for space and versatility.
Crossovers are ideal for active families and the HR-V is more than up to the job with class-leading space. With six-footers up front, there’s loads of legroom in the back but tall passengers may find headroom tight, especially with the panoramic glass roof.
The boot is big with 470 litres with the seats up and there’s a compartment big enough to take a couple of sports bags under the sill level boot floor. Fold the 60/40 rear seats and the cushions lower and the backs drop flat with the boot floor for a maximum 1,533-litre load bay. The Magic Seats, also in the Civic and Jazz, lift up cinema-style to accommodate tall items in the footwells. With the rear seats in use you can stow small bags under the cushions.
There’s plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel and the touch controls for the heating and ventilation system work well, better than the big touchscreen – it’s difficult to hit the right spot on the move. The EX’s standard Garmin sat-nav does not give the clearest instructions and became confused a couple of times. Instruments are clear but the large central speedo has a ‘spoke’ effect from its centre which at night is quite distracting until you get used to it. The cabin is well finished with tactile plastics but the overall feel is rather black and bland.
Storage space is good and the central drinks holders is adjustable for different containers.
Under the bonnet the choice is 130PS 1.5-l petrol, with manual or CVT automatic transmission, or 120PS 1.6-l turbo diesel. The diesel, mated only to a six-speed manual gearbox with a precise shift unless hurried, pulls flexibly from low revs but really comes alive above 2,000rpm with strong mid-range punch that saves having to work it hard – just as well as it becomes vocal as the revs build.
Hard, fast driving saw 55mpg overall but a light foot had it nudging 70mpg.
If you’re looking for a crossover that’s fun to drive, the HR-V fits the bill. The firm suspension means the low-speed ride is sensitive to roadwork scars and thumps into sunken manhole covers and potholes. The trade-off is that the HR-V is one of the better handling crossovers with a taut, agile feel on winding roads and good body control. There is the inevitable body lean of a relatively tall vehicle but it is progressive and not unnerving. The steering makes light work of parking but I’d have liked more feel and feedback at speed.
The HR-V is a credible crossover and decent value given the generous equipment and active city braking, even on the entry-level S model, and a host of extra safety kit from SE upwards. It’s good to drive, spacious and versatile, and is backed up by Honda’s reliability reputation, which should put it on many motorists’ radar.
Price: Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX £26,055 (range from £18,495)
Engine: 1,597cc, 120PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 10.5 seconds; top speed 119mph
MPG: Urban 64.2; extra urban 72.4; combined 68.9
CO2 emissions: 108g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 19 per cent
Insurance group: 20 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 90,000 miles
Size: L 4,294mm; W (incl door mirrors) 2,019mm; H 1,605mm