The Star Malaysia - Star2
Honda HR-V (V grade)
THE Honda HR-V has ample power on tap thanks to its 1.8-litre SOHC i-VTEC engine and relatively athletic 1,267kg kerb weight, drives well with a responsive and accurate steering, and has an impressively roomy cabin for its compact size.
With its ingeniously designed rear Ultra seats and the low-loading level and wide of the rear hatch door, there is no doubt that Honda engineers deserve high praise in maximising the cargo storage room and convenience of the HR-V.
Looking at the strong global sales of the HR-V, Honda certainly hit a sweet spot when it set out to build a crossover with the feel of a coupe and the utility of a minivan, and which bridges the gap between upper SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and entry level sedans.
We found ample rear legroom and headroom for 1.7-metre adults, and the mixed fabric-leather seats provided more than adequate comfort.
The HR-V also comes with the typical green Honda ECON button for those who favour fuel economy at the slight expense of power.
Pressing the ECON button will retard the throttle response, air-conditioning perforwith mance and alter transmission settings to reduce petrol consumption.
The interior design is easy on the eyes, a bit of premium feel thanks to the chrome door handles, 7-inch touchscreen display and touch controls for air-conditioning.
Fit and finish is good, and there is a nice quality to the plastics and fabrics.
Only the driver’s window has the one touch up/down function.
The three air-conditioning vents directly facing the front passenger seat, are a boon in our hot tropical climate and our passengers certainly appreciated them.
Regarding storage space for small items, there isn’t a deep centre storage box to be found here.
However, the cleverly designed cubby holes and armrest between the front seats, door bins on all four side doors, and front seat-back pockets are more than adequate to store items like water bottles and a SmartTAG device.
The HR-V in V trim is also well-packaged with a HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, two USB ports (instead of one) and a 12V/180W power outlet in front certainly welcomed in an era where most people want to charge their electronic devices on the move.
Honda Malaysia has packaged the topgrade V trim for the HR-V rather attractively, as it gets extra kit like LED headlights, chrome outer door handles, cruise control, a multi-angle rearview camera, mixed fabric-leather seats, a 7-inch touchscreen display, six audio speakers, and six airbags.
All variants of the HR-V are also nicely fitted with kit such as automatic headlights, daytime running lights, front and rear fog lights, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, the marvellous rear Ultra seats for more storage options, and safety systems like Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) as well as a space saving Electric Parking Brake and the convenience of Automatic Brake Hold in stop-and-go traffic.
Running on Yokohama BluEarth E70 tyres sized 215/55 R17, the HR-V feels well planted when taking corners at speed.
While the interior is quiet enough, with minimal intrusion from wind and engine noise, we did feel that noise insulation can be better, with tyre noise being quite apparent although we did not think it was overwhelmingly loud.
While the HR-V is quite zippy in off-the-line sprints and has engaging throttle response, it’s a bit behind the C-HR in terms of driving refinement and silky-smooth motoring.
THESE two compact SUVs - the HR-V and C-HR - are closely matched and can equally trade blows against each other in terms of kit.
In the HR-V’s corner, it has price on its side, costing RM110,819 before adding up to RM7,800 worth of accessories that this test unit came with.
That’s still up to RM20,000 less against the CH-R’s asking price of RM137,300.
Additionally, the HR-V accelerates faster than the C-HR, has better ease of getting in and out thanks to larger door opening, a far more accommodating 437-litre boot and has a lower tailgate.
Going against it though, its looks are starting to feel dated - even more so when placed next to the C-HR’s.
With the pedal to the metal, the ride on the HR-V can get choppy as its suspension tries its level best not to allow itself to bounce too much over uneven roads.
The suspension just seems to do little to lessen blows from minor bumps along the way and the steering does feel a little more blunt from its excess idle in comparison.
Now, if there isn’t such a huge price difference between the two cars, the C-HR would definitely be our choice for the daily commute.
Firstly, the styling is able to razzle and dazzle with its futuristic design that isn’t overly aggressive and together with its compact dimensions, the appeal seems to suit both genders rather well.
Inside, the driver-centric cabin feels premium thanks to the soft rubber-like dashboard, black leather-upholstered seats and intuitive controls that are both ergonomic and easily accessible.
Noise, vibration and harshness levels are significantly lower than the HR-V’s which means that it doesn’t weigh too much on the emotions of the driver for a more relaxing drive.
As for road-holding qualities, the C-HR is able to maintain its composure well against the HR-V’s.
Flinging it around tight corners and the C-HR will not only soak up the uneven surface, but it’ll track rather well with the rear end kept in check.
Combining everything together and the C-HR takes the win - not to mention it being the harder vehicle to relinquish at the end of the test drive period.