Honda's crossover is back.
A new Honda HR-V has been a long time coming, especially when you consider how the growth of the crossover market has rapidly accelerated. In fact, Honda claims that it created the crossover segment back with the initial launch of the HR-V in 1999. With this sort of heritage, Honda has said that the new HR-V will specifically tackle the successful Nissan Qashqai upon its release.
It’s not just the Qashqai it will be challenging however. Along with a crossover classification comes some uncertainty when it comes to market segments. This ultimately means that the new HR-V could appeal to those who are also looking at a Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Renault Kadjar, Fiat 500X and Hyundai Tucson.
Honda says that the HR-V’s demographic goes across the board, appealing to pretty much all ages. To do so is a big challenge and plenty of boxes require ticking.
A familiar face in the HR-V’s engine line-up is the 118bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel, used in both the Civic and CR-V models. The petrol option is a new 128bhp 1.5-litre unit. There are both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearboxes available, although the diesel only comes in a manual.
The diesel is much better suited to the HR-V, with 300Nm of pull to make overtaking a doddle. Power is evenly spread and when mated to the slick six-speed manual gearbox, working up and down the gears is effortless. The diesel is also quicker than the petrol, with a zero to 62mph sprint time of 10 seconds flat.
The 1.5-litre petrol lacks torque and feels a little lethargic compared to the diesel – but maybe that is because we drove the diesel first. The notable credentials of the petrol are in its auto ‘box features. In an attempt to appease European drivers, Honda has simulated a seven-speed feel to the six-speed CVT, giving it acceleration through the gears, which feels sportier and more like a traditional automatic. The CVT auto ‘box also has something called ‘Fast off’, which keeps revs high when overtaking – again, allowing for smoother manoeuvres.
Ride and Handling
For a crossover, the HR-V is quite low and lightweight, so it also handles very much like a hatchback.
Where the HR-V really impresses is its levels of comfort. Honda has actively looked at improving sound deadening, with added insulation to areas including the door seals and wheel arches. This results in an extremely hushed cabin when on the move – almost as quite as a luxury saloon. Combine this with an extremely supple suspension and you have one of the comfiest models in its class.
For a crossover, the HR-V is quite low and lightweight, so it also handles very much like a hatchback. With no four-wheel drive model currently available, it won't be the crossover of choice for those looking to take part in some mild off-roading, but this actually pays dividends on the road. Of course, the HR-V has more ground clearance than a hatchback like the Civic, but its suspension is reasonably firm and it's fitted with conventional road tyres, so it grips the road with aplomb. Since we first tested Honda's crossover abroad, it also feels as if its steering has been tweaked for the better, as our UK test car's helm had a weightier and sportier response.
Did you know?
The name HR-V stands for Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle.
Interior and Equipment
The HR-V utilises the best of both the Civic and CR-V’s interiors, with upmarket materials in all the right places and a systematic Honda Connect touchscreen layout. This Honda Connect system also comes with the new pinch and swipe features, making sat-nav actions much cleaner. There are plenty of other small but amicable features in the cabin, like a touch panel climate control display, a 3D-style speedo and a raised Honda S2000-inspired centre console.
In trend with the rest of the Honda range, standard kit is generous. All models get climate control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel mounted controls, front and rear parking sensors and DAB radio. The Honda Connect system is an optional extra at entry-level but standard elsewhere. Many will find either of the two mid trims – SE and SE Navi – luxurious enough when it comes to splashing the cash, with SE adding the Honda Connect system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control and front fog lights. Fittingly, SE Navi adds a Garmin sat-nav system.
Those who want to go all out for the flagship EX model won’t be disappointed, as it adds leather upholstery for the seats, roof rails, a rear view camera, LED headlights with daytime running lights and a panoramic glass roof.
Honda has really out done itself with driver assist and safety features with the new HR-V. City-Brake Active is standard across the range and from SE and above, so is Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition System and Forward Collision Warning. There is also an Intelligent Speed limiter function, which utilises traffic sign recognition to adapt cruise control accordingly.
Aside to its luxury kit, the HR-V is very capable when it comes to practicality. In the rear, leg room is capacious, up to saloon standards. Head room is also very impressive, but if you go for the panoramic glass roof then it will eat some of that space up.
Although its overall size is smaller than the Nissan Qashqai, the HR-V’s boot is 40 litres bigger and also comes with the added bonus of magic seats as standard. That means awkward-shaped objects like bikes are easy to store. With all the seats stowed away there is 1,533 litres to play around – which is slightly smaller than the Qashqai’s equivalent of 1,585 litres.
If you are a stickler for the finer details then the HR-V will please as Honda is offering £500 five year serving for added peace of mind.
Although the diesel is the quickest in the range, it is actually the most efficient too, emitting just 104g/km of CO2 and claiming to return 71mpg. Although the most efficient petrol emits 125g/km, this is significant as it is achieved by the CVT ‘box, not the manual. This efficiency has been achieved via down speeding, or as it is sometimes known, throttle opening.
With the diesel emitting 104g/km, the HR-V is available with just a £20 a year VED bill. Price tag wise, the entry-level HR-V is about £18,000, meaning it undercuts the likes of the Nisan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson – and it’s very similarly priced to the new Renault Kadjar.
If you are a stickler for the finer details then the HR-V will please as Honda is offering £500 five year serving for added peace of mind. Honda is also renowned for its reliability, winning numerous accolades, so this should definitely be considered when it comes to the competition.
Crossovers are a strange breed as it can be hard to pin down their exact demographics and target markets. But by offering great interior quality, loads of practicality, reliability incentives and low running costs, Honda shouldn’t have a problem enticing buyers of all ages.
By concentrating on its road manners, Honda has also created a model which is particularly car-like to drive, which should appeal if you love a crossover's style, but don't want an old-school SUV driving experience.
As it sits somewhere in between several competitors when it comes to size, it will also attract those who want all the appeal of a crossover, but something that is a little different to the ubiquitous Qashqai.