Aim for higher perches

Hatch-on-stilts joins the city club and helps Honda re­dis­cover its mojo

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR joshua.dowl­

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.

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