Honda HR-V review: A comfortable crossover with plenty of panache

Honda HR-V review: A comfortable crossover with plenty of panache

Mirror Motoring’s Gareth Butterfield spends a week in Honda’s stylish little SUV

Honda HR-V

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This is the new Honda HR-V, and there are a few design features that jumped out at me when I first saw it.

First, there’s that distinctive large grille that dominates the front, and then there’s the crease that runs the length of the car to the sporty rear, with its sharply angled coupe-like tailgate.

There are other nice details too. I like the subtle red line down the four doors, and the three colored bars almost hidden in the grille. I have no idea what they stand for, but they give the foreground a bit of a lift.

From the side, it’s certainly attractive, but it’s another one of those on-trend shapes. Blending the coupe with the smooth road. Honda is certainly not breaking the rule here.

Which is almost a shame, because the original HR-V, launched in the late 1990s, was something a little different, and arguably quite cool. I’m not sure you’d classify the new HR-V as cool, but it’s quite distinctive, especially in the right color.

Under the hood, though, it’s got Honda’s e-trick: a HEV system, so it’s a gasoline hybrid, which delivers 129 horsepower, but more importantly, can keep you in electric mode for much longer than most hybrids without having to Plug it in to recharge. It offers some impressive MPG numbers, which is one of the car’s best features. But there are other things to admire.

For example, the interior has a welcoming air of simplicity, thanks to a traditional layout and plenty of manual controls that aren’t hidden in a touchscreen.

There’s a chunky steering wheel, a traditional gear stick, some nice seats for driver and passenger, and a fairly large infotainment screen. This, unfortunately, is the weak link. By modern standards, it seems a bit low-tech. Android Auto and wireless Apple Car Play shouldn’t be missing from a new car in this day and age, but they are. Shame.

The rear seats are fairly spacious, but the trendy, sloping roofline cuts into headroom significantly. This is made worse in the middle seat which is almost meaningless due to the seatbelt protruding from the ceiling which seems to be in the wrong place.

The HR-V’s 319-litre boot isn’t the largest in its class, but it does have ‘magic seats’, which simply fold to create a beautifully flat floor. So it can be a great carrying tool.

There is little to report from the driving experience. It drives as every car in this segment should. The ride is good, the steering is good, the power is adequate, and it’s nice and comfortable. In fact, the hybrid system makes you feel like you’re in an electric car a lot of the time, and on the highway, the engine is backed up by the motors, so it’s the perfect combination of power and efficiency.

The entry price for the new HR-V is just over £30,000, which is very reasonable considering the base model gets heated front seats, advanced safety features and a large touchscreen.

There’s only one free color, and it’s a weird khaki color that I can’t see a lot of people choosing. And it looks a bit rubbish on standard wheels. So take the £30,000 base price with a pinch of salt and budget for some great upgrades.

But after you’re done playing with the configurator, you’ll have a nice looking car. This may not be a departure from the norm, but it doesn’t blend in either. She has her own style, and I absolutely love it.

It also has the excellent e:HEV system, which is basically the best hybrid system I’ve tested.

All of this leaves you feeling like there’s not much not to like about the HR-V. Will people be tempted to move away from trendy brands? It should, but probably won’t. But, seriously, don’t overlook that. It’s a great package.

the facts

Model tested: Honda HR-V 1.5i-MMD Advance Style

Price: from £36,295

0-60 mph: 10.7 seconds

Power: 129 hp

Economy: 52.3 mpg

CO2: 122 g/km

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