Test Drive: Honda ZR-V
Test Drive: Honda ZR-V

AFTER decades of driving cars a badge is no longer required for identification purposes.

To be honest, even before I got my driving licence at 17, I could name every car on the road, such is the depth of my car nerdiness.

That one over there? It’ a Lexus. That one? A BMW, obvs. That’s a Hyundai and that’s a Peugeot. Simple.

That red one in the driveway? That’s a…oh, hang on, I’m not quite sure. What did I book again for this week? A Honda? Well, it doesn’t look like a Honda, which tend to look like, well, Hondas.

ZR-V breaks the mould. It doesn’t look like anything else in the range and, while the range doesn’t look at all bad in any way shape or form, I absolutely love this new aesthetic.

It’s all a bit more muscular and shapely, less angular, smoother and built around a very strong honeycomb grille. The LED headlamps are nice and sleek but still work as lights cutting though the gloom on even the murkiest of nights.

Side on ZR-V is well-proportioned, strong and smart, with big black attractive alloys finishing off the look a treat. The rear looks strong and wide, with menacing twin tailpipes poking through the valance and well-shaped light clusters. ZR-V is a bit of a looker from any angle and the overall impression is one of being very sporty.

The interior is a cracker too, large, light and accommodating. It is beautifully appointed and well-made oozing quality that you know will last forever. The transmission tunnel is clear and uncluttered and the gearbox is engaged using buttons – D for drive , R for reverse, P, for park. It means there is plenty of room for your elbows and your clutter. There are useful ports to charge your tech as well.

There’s a large easy-to-use touchscreen and buttons and knobs for the major functions. Dash is virtual and tells you when the battery is charging etc and there are useful controls on the steering wheel. The infotainment is excellent.

Under the bonnet is a 2.0 litre VTEC petrol motor and a battery/hybrid setup that joins together to produce some strong performance. The benchmark 0-62mph of just 7.8 seconds is impressive for a chunky SUV and where it can it will cruise along on the electric to save fuel.

Fuel consumption isn’t anything special as it resides in the 40s when it comes to miles per gallon. But the Honda’s real strength is refinement; it is amazingly smooth and quiet while offering spirited performance.

Being a Honda you know the handling will be good and as I cross the backbone of England in the vilest of weathers it handles the conditions with aplomb. In fact grip is so good that I have to check the spec sheet to see whether it is all-wheel-drive – only to discover that it isn’t, drive being sent to the front only.

If there is a fly in the ointment it’s the steering. I’m not sure what the problem is but I suspect it’s the lane assist – the scourge of every modern car, forced upon us by bus-travelling, city-dwelling bureaucrats. It’s a faff to turn off, comes back if you restart the car and it makes the steering action weirdly feel sticky. It’s not a major problem just a bit of an unwelcome irritant.

After decades of driving cars it’s great that stalwart manufacturers like Honda can still pull out a few nice surprises, which is what it has done with the ZR-V’s looks.

Fact File

Honda ZR-V Sport

Engine: 2.0 petrol electric hybrid

Power: 184PS

0-62mph: 7.8 secs

Top speed: 108mph

Combined MPG: 48.7

Transmission: e-CVT

CO2 g/km: 131

Price: £41,745