Aim for higher perches
Hatch-on-stilts joins the city club and helps Honda rediscover its mojo
JUST as in the kind-of creepy TV ad for the new Honda HR-V, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve woken from a bad dream, pursued by a swarm of city-sized SUVs.
Four brand new models have been launched in the past four weeks alone, and that’s only the start. The HR-V is hot on the heels of the Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade and Renault Captur.
They are part of the fastest growing segment in the newcar market, officially called SUVs but in reality high-riding hatchbacks. Most are frontwheel-drive, lack a full-size spare and are as sensible on a dirt road as high heels.
We’re addicted to the tall driving position that gives a better view of the road ahead, and now we want that in city cars too. So what we have is a car with the view of, say, a Range Rover and the footprint of a Toyota Corolla.
Genius? No, the genius part is that it doesn’t cost much to put a hatchback on stilts but we’re so slavishly in love with the idea of extra height (to see past some other SUV in front of us in the traffic) we’ll pay up to $5000 more for the privilege.
The HR-V shares underpinnings with the Jazz hatch and City sedan, which cost below $20,000, yet its starting price is $24,990 plus on-roads.
The swoopy body (with hidden rear door handles to look like a coupe) is completely new inside and out and it gets a bigger, 1.8-litre engine with more zip.
Three models, all well equipped, start with the $24,990 VTi with standard fare including six airbags, rear-view camera, cruise control, remote entry, electric park brake, 16inch alloy wheels and massive cargo bay. It also shares the Jazz’s “magic” seating setup — rear seats that fold, flip and stow every which way to create space for a massive load.