Honda dresses up baby SUV

The black ex­te­rior de­tail­ing on the Honda HR-V RS looks pretty smart, writes

The Southland Times - - Motoring -

1.8-litre petrol four, 105kW/172Nm, con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion, FWD, Com­bined econ­omy 6.7 litres per 100km.

4360mm long, 1605mm high, 2610mm wheel­base, lug­gage ca­pac­ity 437-1462 litres, 18-inch al­loy wheels with 225/50 tyres.

Tidy in the cor­ners, well­built, bril­liant Magic Seats.

We don’t like: Ho-hum en­gine and gear­box, blah in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

very or­di­nary 1.8-litre four and a not-ter­ri­ble but not-much-fun con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion.

So yes, the HR-V RS can flow nicely over de­mand­ing roads, but you need to man­age the peaky en­gine (max­i­mum torque doesn’t ar­rive un­til 4300rpm) and CVT.

Why doesn’t it have AWD?

What makes you think a baby SUV should have AWD?

Like so many of its ilk, the HRV has been de­signed pri­mar­ily as a FWD ma­chine and that’s your only pow­er­train choice for the bulk of the range.

And now for some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, be­cause there is in fact a soli­tary AWD model on of­fer and it’s a bit of an odd­ball be­cause it’s es­sen­tially a Ja­panese do­mes­tic mar­ket model.

The HR-V AWD is $35,990 and pow­ered by a very mod­est 96kW/ 155Nm 1.5-litre en­gine. The AWD setup is an in­tel­li­gent ‘‘real time’’ sys­tem sim­i­lar to that em­ployed on the CR-V.

What’s it like to live with?

The in­te­rior of the HR-V is a blend of ir­ri­tat­ing de­tail and sheer ge­nius. The an­noy­ing stuff first: like so many small Hon­das, the switchgear and in­stru­men­ta­tion menus seem strangely com­plex. They’re also pretty un­tidy look­ing.

Worst is the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, which is based around a seven-inch touch screen that looks more af­ter­mar­ket than fac­tory. The graph­ics are clunky and while sat-nav is stan­dard, it doesn’t have Ap­ple or An­droid phone pro­jec­tion. The USB and HDMI in­puts are also on the face of the unit, so if you use them you have wires hang­ing down the dash­board.

Shame, be­cause the cabin styling is quite dis­tinc­tive: build qual­ity is ex­cel­lent and there are some nice touches, like the ret­rostyle grille-vents on the pas­sen­ger side or the con­fig­urable cuphold­ers that change size with a quick push and click.

The HR-V’s trump card is Honda’s Magic Seat sys­tem, which makes the best of the flat cabin floor by of­fer­ing a trick mul­ti­fold­ing mech­a­nism for the rear chairs.

You can con­fig­ure the car in four dif­fer­ent modes: Re­fresh (ba­si­cally a bed), Long (the front pas­sen­ger seat folds as well), Tall (1240mm of height with the rear seat squab folded up­wards) and the more con­ven­tional Util­ity (a flat load space that’s 1845mm long).

You’ll find the same Magic Seat setup in a Jazz or CR-V and it’s bril­liant in ev­ery ap­pli­ca­tion. You won’t find a more prac­ti­cal or load-friendly com­pact-SUV on the mar­ket.

Honda HR-V RS Base price: $37,500. Pow­er­train and per­for­mance:

Vi­tal statis­tics:

We like:

Any other cars I should con­sider?

The Toy­ota CH-R is the ob­vi­ous ri­val to the HR-V: main­stream Ja­panese brand, odd look, CVT.

But for a sport­ing bent we’d take a look at the Mazda CX-3 and also the Hyundai Kona, which of­fers a very com­pre­hen­sive range of pow­er­train and spec­i­fi­ca­tion choices.

One of our cur­rent faves is the Seat Arona, which looks great and is lots of fun, with a fizzy, three­cylin­der en­gine and dual-clutch trans­mis­sion.

The big­gest seller in the seg­ment is, of course, the Mit­subishi ASX, but you wouldn’t wish one of those on any­body.

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