Test Drive: Honda HR-V Hybrid
Honda’s newest SUV catches the eye of Ian Lamming
JUDGE people on their appearance, me? Never. It’s no longer allowed. It’s definitely not woke.
But in the world of motors we can still get away with it and, while beauty is still in the eye of the beholder, I still like to comment on aesthetics.
Never has there been a clearer example than the Honda HR-V. The last model? Not so much ugly bloke as a plain Jane. Nothing wrong with it but certainly easy to lose in the crowd and with competition in the SUV market so extreme that was never going to do for long, especially when you are Honda.
The very first HR-V was in fact very striking in its day then, somewhere along the road, it went all brown brogues and plaid, shades of brown plaid at that.
Not so its replacement which is downright mean and moody, muscular and striking. Big grille, bold airdam and super-slim lights really set off the front, while from the side the wheels are large, the overhangs short and the roofline low, which all conspire to give Honda’s HR-V a look of forward motion even at rest.
The rump then brings up the rear in fine fashion with full width lights and lots of presence. It is a fine looking car from any direction and now leaps to the top of the pile in terms of image, that’s for sure.
It also looks and feels bigger than the model it replaces but never too large to be unwieldly. Just try parking it, it’s a doddle, especially with the beepers and excellent reverse camera.
Inside is spacious and well-designed too maximising every inch to good effect and dressing it all up in attractive quality trim which is fresh and modern. Then, for me, there’s the big hurrah – knobs and buttons. Yes there is a touchscreen for the infotainment and satnav but all the important stuff is there clearly to be seen and you either push it with a finger or turn it with a twist of a knob. Yes, designers are finally realising that all this touchy swipey tech is dangerous because it takes your eyes off the road ahead for far too long and requires a lightness of touch that few of us cack-handed possess.
HR-V also has one eye on the planet with its clean burning 1.5 litre petrol engine supported ably by an electric motor. No need to charge this hybrid though as it is self-charging. On the slow stuff, EV works silently cutting emission to zero before the petrol picks up the slack when more power and speed is required. It’s a good combo and the HR-V never feels wanting for performance. The combined figure claims 67mpg – expect 45.
Like all Hondas, HR-V handles like it is on rails, with minimal body roll, maximum grip and sharp responses that no doubt originated on an F1 track. Suspension is wonderfully compliant and it masks the very worst our rubbish roads have to throw under it.
Specification is nice and high too so expect rear-view camera, air diffusion system, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, heated leather steering wheel, heated door mirrors, heated front seats, handsfree power tailgate, all manner of safety gubbins, LED cornering lights and wireless charger. The music system is good too.
Is there anything I didn’t like? No, not really, so if you like the looks as much as I do, what are you waiting for?
HR-V Hybrid Advance Style
Engine: 1.5 litre
0-62mph: 10.7 secs
Top speed: 106mph
CO2 g/km: 131