Honda dresses up baby SUV
The black exterior detailing on the Honda HR-V RS looks pretty smart, writes
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:
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.