NEW HR-V IS A CRACKER
HONDA RIGHT AT HOME IN THE CITY OR ON A FREEWAY
HONDA had the right idea years ago but pulled the pin on the first HR-V, probably because it distracted attention from their big selling, larger CR-V.
But now, with small ‘city’ SUVs all the rage, Honda has been able to hit the market with a cracking good offering in the new HR-V.
It's Jazz-based but has a bigger, bored-out engine and is a whole lot more practical.
Only available with a CVT auto transmission and front-wheel drive, HR-V is actually a high-riding wagon that finds its home in the city and out on the freeway with up to five aboard.
It's up against stove-hot competition in the new Mazda CX-3 and the new Hyundai Tucson, but the HR-V offers plenty of enticement to buy; not the least being its handsome, wedgy looks and Citroen-esque rear styling.
We got hold of the mid-spec VTi-S model that sells for $27,990 and is likely going to be the most popular model.
It's generously equipped with a seven-inch touch screen and Honda's clever Display Audio system that mirrors your iPhone, electric park brake, climate control, smart entry, button start, multi-function wheel, decent audio and magic seats that fold in myriad ways to facilitate carrying passengers or cargo.
It has a goodly amount of driver -assist stuff too: reverse camera, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, lanewatch blind spot monitoring, city brake active and other stuff. Go further up the range and the amount of driver-assist features increases markedly.
Because it's based on the Jazz, the HR-V has sporty dynamics and is fun to drive. It hooks around corners, has good steering feel and rides flat while soaking up rough roads.
The engine is not bad: a bored-out Jazz 1.5 taken to 1.8 litres.
Still a single-cam unit, in HR-V guise, it cranks out 105kW/ 172Nm, which is sufficient to propel the HR-V with some verve.
The CVT auto is less of a slurring experience than other makes and feels like a stepped auto in operation; most of the time.
Both engine and transmission use Honda's ‘green’ optimisation technology called Earth Dreams.
It's the same philosophy as Mazda's SkyActiv, where conventional technology is refined to reduce fuel consumption and emissions while delivering spirited performance.
The engine has variable cam timing, helping it along the way to record 6.9 litres/100km fuel economy; on regular 91 octane petrol.
Our only real complaint is about the satnav streaming system that means you have to buy the app from Honda and then use your phone's data to get satnav.
Verdict: A right-sized city vehicle with sweet styling and practicality coming out of its ears.
The new HR-V is a smart, speccy and stylish cutie.