Honda’s baby SUV a smooth mover

Albany Extra - - Motoring - An­drew Bail­lie

Is it just me or does time seem to fly past quicker as you get older? Like one of those id­iot hoons try­ing to weave in and out of traf­fic at rush hour.

It seems like only yes­ter­day I was test­ing out the up­dated ver­sion of Honda’s baby SUV, the HR-V, and lov­ing the looks but moan­ing about the ac­cel­er­a­tion and the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion.

I think I de­scribed it as sound­ing like a de­mented vac­uum cleaner.

Well, that was last Fe­bru­ary, and sud­denly here I was again af­ter Honda had re­vealed an­other up­date to what is a pop­u­lar model in an ul­tra-pop­u­lar seg­ment.

I was in a new vari­ant too: the RS. To be hon­est, though, I was look­ing for­ward to lis­ten­ing to the CVT again as I was tak­ing my el­dest daugh­ter shop­ping in the New Year sales.

How­ever, Honda has tweaked things un­der the bon­net, re­tain­ing the 1.8-litre four-cylin­der petrol en­gine found in pre­vi­ous mod­els but up­grad­ing the CVT to fea­ture stepped ra­tios.

And man, what a dif­fer­ence. Sud­denly the HR-V has a sporty feel with great ac­cel­er­a­tion and sharp steer­ing.

But cru­cially, to my ears any­way, the only whine you here is when you put it in Sport mode.

So leave it in the de­fault reg­u­lar mode (there’s also Eco) and you have a re­ally smooth drive, though the sus­pen­sion was a tad harsh.

There’s also the op­tion of do­ing the gears your­self via wheel­mounted pad­dle shifters.

But don’t think about tak­ing the HR-V off-road — all mod­els are two-wheel-drive.

The speedo, mean­while, glows green when you’re tak­ing it easy on the throt­tle and white when you’re us­ing more fuel than you prob­a­bly need to.

The RS is made even more tempt­ing by two-tone 18-inch al­loys, a black chrome grille above a smaller hon­ey­comb grille, and a “pi­ano black” body kit along with black door mir­rors and dark-chrome door han­dles.

Plus there’s all the usual good­look­ing knobs and an­gu­lar pan­els that are a trade­mark of com­pact SUVs, while the hid­den back door han­dles add a coupe touch.

The up-mar­ket black cabin fea­tures heated leather seats and a 7.0-inch colour touch screen with re­vers­ing cam­era and a sat nav that has a white back­ground and can be tricky to read.

The screen also houses a blindspot mon­i­tor which, thanks to a cam­era on the side of the HR-V, comes on ev­ery time you in­di­cate left.

It was dis­tract­ing at first but I ended up us­ing it a lot, es­pe­cially on the free­way when chang­ing lanes.

The air-con, mean­while, strug­gled a bit when it got above 25C in WA — which is ba­si­cally half the year.

But still, it all feels spa­cious, es­pe­cially in the back seat be­hind my driv­ing po­si­tion, which is helped by the sec­ond-row seats be­ing very up­right. There’s also 437 litres of cargo space in the boot and 1462 litres with the rear seats down.

That’s great for a baby SUV and means the HR-V could cope as a main fam­ily car.

In fact, it shines in a crowded mar­ket now that the drive matches the de­sign and cabin am­bi­ence. I loved it.

The Honda HR-V RS now has a driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to match its looks.

The in­te­rior feels up-mar­ket.

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