Back after a 10-year absence, Honda’s HR-V is a smashing piece of kit that combines practicality, efficiency, technology and great handling – all in one very neat package. A new Sport edition really ups the fun factor.
The goodVersatile and features easy-folding rear seats
The badUgly-looking air vents
Honda HR-V Sport 1.5 CVT
There is a new flagship model that has just joined the Honda HR-V ranks – it boasts muscular styling along with a powerful turbocharged engine and it’s aptly called the HR-V Sport.
But this is so much more than a gentle design tweak and nameplate change, because the HR-V Sport introduces a wealth of model-specific features that really help the car stand out.
For example, there are revised sports bumpers and skirts, more pronounced wheel arches, larger lightweight alloy wheels and lots of high gloss trim. Other design cues include a dual exhaust finisher, front LED fog lights, rear privacy glass, a shark fin antennae and dusk sensing automatic lights.
Move inside and the interior of the five-door HR-V Sport boasts gorgeous wine-red leather and black fabric seat upholstery with red swathes on the dashboard, door and central stack. It looks sublime and very upmarket.
And as you might expect, there is a wealth of on-board technology at your disposal, including the likes of Honda Connect with Garmin seven-inch touchscreen navigation offering full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a CD player, Bluetooth, heated front seats, a six-speaker sound system and lots more besides.
But the headline-grabbing feature on this front-wheel-drive model is the turbocharged 1.5-litre VTEC petrol engine developing 180bhp and 240Nm of torque.
And those figures translate into some very interesting performance stats. This car can sprint from 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds and it tops out at 134mph – not bad for a family-friendly SUV.
And the manner in which the car behaves also impresses. It feels fast but nicely composed as it moves swiftly through the CVT automatic transmission. The road-holding is confident and assured, and the cabin is nicely insulated against any engine, road surface or wind noise.
Out on the faster country lanes, there is minimal sign of body roll even when pushed hard into corners thanks to the new performance dampers and suspension system fitted to this car. And these have been fine tuned in collaboration with the steering system to deliver a truly dynamic driving experience. Paddle shifts offer the opportunity to change gears manually and a Sport mode also adds to the fun factor.
But the HR-V Sport is not all about muscle and power, it’s also a very capable and versatile family vehicle with ample space for five occupants. It has a generous boot capacity that ranges from 431 to 1,473 litres in size and also features Magic Seats – Honda’s clever system that allows the rear seats to be folded flat or the seat cushions to fold upright like theatre seats.
In busy town centres, the elevated driving position is another plus factor as it results in excellent all-round visibility which is really handy with cars, pedestrians and cyclists darting out from here, there and everywhere.
It sounds like the HR-V Sport is too good to be true with its great handling, handsome styling and excellent all-round practicality. And in fairness, it was everything I had hoped for apart from the sometimes temperamental Apple CarPlay system that was a tad hit and miss.
On the economy front, the official combined fuel economy figure of 39.2mpg (WLTP) is achievable if the car is driven ‘sensibly’, but drive with a heavy right boot and that figure will drop. There is an ECON mode to maximise fuel efficiency.
All in all, when you factor in the comprehensive list of safety kit on the HR-V Sport, it is a very practical, stylish, fun-to-drive and appealing family SUV. And the price-tag of £27,840 (£28,365 with Pearlescent Paint) is also competitively pitched.
Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX manual
It was more than a decade ago that Honda decided to kill off its HR-V model and during those years rival manufacturers have been scooping up the crossover sales, but now the HR-V is back and it’s bigger and better than ever.
Boasting a dynamic, athletic profile the HR-V looks fabulous from any angle thanks to its sweeping lines, 17-inch alloys, LED headlights and daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, front fog lights and massive panoramic sunroof.
Step inside and the vehicle offers class-leading space along with a whole host of premium features and design cues. There are soft-touch surfaces, leather trim, heated seats plus a wealth of on-board technology, including a sat nav, infotainment via a seven-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, dual zone climate control, a rear view camera and plenty more besides.
Comfort levels are high with ample room for two adults in the back – three at a push – and the vehicle’s raised roofline results in lots of headroom too. The slightly elevated and upright seating position also means the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility which is essential in a car that will often be used on the busy school runs.
The HR-V also features Honda’s outstanding Magic Seat system which enables easily-adaptable and flexible seating configurations and also results in additional space being freed up to carry awkwardly-shaped items.
And when it comes to storage the HR-V is class-leading with a 453-litre boot capacity that can be increased to a whopping 1,026 litres with the rear seats dropped down flat and elsewhere there are numerous handy storage compartments, including drinks holders, door pockets and a good-sized glove-box.
The range-topping EX test car was powered by a 1.6-litre 120PS diesel engine mated to a six speed manual gearbox. It can reach 62mph from a standing start in 10.5 seconds and tops out at 119mph. According to official figures it can deliver combined fuel economy of 68.9mpg with carbon emissions of 108g/km which makes it a very viable and cost-effective option.
In built-up city centre traffic the HR-V coped admirably and proved agile when manoeuvring through tight gaps. Then out on faster lanes and motorways, the car was pleasantly responsive too. The acceleration may not be blistering, but it was controlled, measured and very acceptable. The road-holding was also sure-footed and cabin noise reasonably quiet unless the vehicle was pushed particularly hard when some engine and road surface sound became noticeable.
All the controls, dials and instrumentation are easy to operate and ideally positioned.
In fact my only real gripe after a week behind the wheel was the slight reflection from the shiny console and the rather dated-looking air vents that stood out for the wrong reasons in an otherwise upmarket and premium-looking car.
As well as all the more instantly-recognisable safety systems, the HR-V also features a truly comprehensive range of driver aids as standard on all models apart from the entry-level S grade.
For example there is city brake, lane departure warning, high beam support and cross traffic monitoring and in addition, the car boasts the innovative Intelligent Speed Assist system which combines the Traffic Sign Recognition and Speed Limiter to identify changes in the speed limit and then restricts the top speed of the car accordingly.
All in all, it’s great news that Honda has revived its HR-V and with its price-tag of £25,470, it will be another welcome challenger to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Vauxhall Mokka and Renault Captur.