The best gets re­freshed


Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Pace Notes -

Even with its crown se­cure, Honda’s B-seg­ment cross­over king, the HR-V, is get­ting an­other boost in re­ac­tion to its ri­vals’ con­tin­ual at­tempts to de­throne it – so far, un­suc­cess­fully.

We re­cently sam­pled the re­freshed line-up – some of it, any­way – at a spe­cial press pre­view or­gan­ised by Honda Malaysia. Sim­ply put, those want­ing one are in for a treat.

From what we were able to see, the ex­ist­ing vari­ants have been given a light but ap­peal­ing ex­te­rior touchup. The big­gest news here is per­haps the in­clu­sion of a new RS vari­ant meant, it ap­pears, to lead the HR-V line.

Set­ting it apart from its sib­lings are its 18-inch al­loy wheels and new tail light graph­ics which, like the head­lamps up front, are full

LED types. Its lower end sib­lings re­tain 17-inch wheels, but will have a restyled front bumper and grille, not for­get­ting the switch from re­flec­tor LED head­lamps to pro­jec­tor LED types. If you al­ready like the cur­rent HR-V’s looks, you’ll like the changes too.

Of course, looks are just half the story. There’s plenty to look for­ward to else­where, es­pe­cially in the new RS vari­ant. How­ever, if you were ex­pect­ing im­prove­ments to the pow­er­train, you’d be dis­ap­pointed. Honda has re­tained the 1.8-litre four-cylin­der petrol mill and CVT au­to­matic trans­mis­sion pair­ing. That said, it’s by no means a bad thing. As the say­ing goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

As for the in­te­rior and kit list, we are some­what in the dark un­for­tu­nately as Honda is keep­ing mum for now, es­pe­cially on the RS vari­ant. How­ever, we can tell you the RS will ben­e­fit from two new, key fea­tures, those be­ing Lane-Watch As­sist and the Vari­able Gear Ra­tio (VGR) steer­ing sys­tem, the for­mer made ob­vi­ous by the cam­era mounted on the left wing mir­ror.

The VGR suite is some­thing that, Honda en­gi­neers say, will com­ple­ment the new 18-inch wheels and pre­mium-spec Con­ti­nen­tal Ul­traCon­tact 6 (UC6) tyres they roll on. The adap­tive steer­ing sys­tem works by chang­ing the gear ra­tios and steer­ing an­gle to match the ve­hi­cle’s speed, promis­ing bet­ter han­dling, con­trol and sta­bil­ity.

We tested the sys­tem on a ba­sic slalom course that sim­u­lated lane change and lane change plus emer­gency brak­ing tests. The VGR worked well, com­ple­ment­ing the HR-V’s ex­ist­ing ABS and VSA (Ve­hi­cle Sta­bil­ity As­sist). Even when not in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions, the VGR is meant to en­hance the HR-V RS’s daily driv­abil­ity as it’s less sen­si­tive to small and sud­den in­puts.

Price? That, like the in­te­rior fit and fin­ish, is some­thing Honda won’t be re­veal­ing just yet. Ex­pect, how­ever, the RS to pro­vide quite a few sur­prises in­side.

Over­all, Honda seems to have all the an­gles well cov­ered. Like any mid-cy­cle up­date, all that’s good re­mains in­tact, such as the HR-V’s Ul­tra Seats, class-lead­ing prac­ti­cal­ity and ver­sa­til­ity.

The full pic­ture should be in view soon enough. THORIQ AZMI

We also tested the HR-V RS’s new LaneWatch cam­era fea­tureVGR steer­ing, 18-inch wheels and pre­mium tyres all lead to en­hanced sta­bil­ityin the HR-V RS

Can you spot the re­fresh­ments the new RS boasts over the out­go­ingrange-top­per be­hind it?

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