Mo­tor­ing

The Southland Times - - Motoring -

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

PHO­TOS: DAVID LINKLATER/STUFF

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.

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