Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Peter Barn­well

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.

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