onda New Zealand has given its HR-V baby SUV a boost with a new RS variant.
Is this another affront to the RS badge?
Honda is particularly guilty of abusing sports-themed badges with gratuitous stripes and nonfunctional spoilers.
However, the HR-V RS doesn’t actually have either of those. And it does have unique dynamic elements such as variable gear ratio steering and thicker anti-roll bars. OK, it’s not much; but it is something.
Honda has still dressed the RS up a bit. On the outside it has lots of Piano Black trim, which looks quite smart but you have to wonder how it will weather the knocks of everyday city life. It also has a special grille and alloy-wheel design.
Extra equipment includes LED lights front and rear, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors and an auto-tilt passenger-side mirror – handy for urban parking.
Inside, the RS has part-leather upholstery, alloy pedals, extra 12-volt power outlets and more Piano Black detailing. The roof lining is also darker than the standard HR-V models.
All HR-V models have City Brake Assist (autonomous braking at up to 30kmh) and the RS gets Honda’s weird-but-useful LaneWatch camera, which shows you the offside of the car on the infotainment screen when you indicate left.
But the full suite of active safety equipment is restricted to the top Sport NT model, which has lane departure warning, forward collision warning and a high-beam lighting support system.
How does it handle then?
Pretty well, actually. The standard HR-V is capable in the corners and the mildly tweaked RS adds a bit of assertiveness and stability to the package.
It flows nicely over winding roads and the RS ‘‘sports stabilisers’’ don’t have a huge impact on the ride.
What is a letdown is the turgid powertrain. No Civic RS-style snappy 1.5-litre turbo for you, HRV people: Honda’s baby SUV has a
The new RS variant is supposed to be the sporty Honda HR-V. And yes, it does have some chassis tweaks.
Thicker stabiliser bars, variable gear ratio steering for the RS. A clunky infotainment system is like stepping back in time. Shame, because there are some clever cabin features.