Friday, 27 May 2016

REVIEW – Honda HR-V SE Navi


The Honda HR-V is back. Last seen in 2005, you wouldn’t recognise it now. This is an all-new model, and has arrived to spoil the party for the likes of the Nissan Juke and Mazda CX3. Compact crossovers are becoming a popular choice of family cars, especially for those not wanting something as large as a Qashqai or CR-V. So how would the revised HR-V stack up? I grabbed a volume-seller in the SE Navi for a week to see how it stands up as a practical family car. Read on to see what I thought.

Looks – 8/10

The biggest change from the last CR-V is the styling. No longer is it straight-edged and, frankly, ugly. The HR-V is curvaceous, sleek and blends nicely in an urban environment. The lines seem to sweep from the centre of the grille round to the headlights. The top of the doors forms a large arc, and hiding the rear door handles allows for a smoother rear quarter. 17-inch black and silver wheels fill the arches nicely, whilst the black plastic around the windows and along the bottom edge of the car offered a nice contrast to the White Orchid Pearl of my test car. Privacy glass would have been nice, as would LED daytime running lights. Both of these are standard on the EX model.

To compliment that stylish exterior is a funky interior. There’s a raised centre console, which makes the short gear knob easy to reach. The gloss black trim with silver accent gives a premium feel, as does the stitch effect on the dashboard. The multimedia system and heating controls are touch-operated, as well as being slightly angled toward the driver. For some reason there are three heater vents in front of the passenger, which looks a bit odd. The seats are a bit bland as well; lacking any real pattern or shape. I don’t like the rear door cards, which are large and a bit ungainly. From behind the wheel though everything looks good, with crisp dials and multifunction display.

Handling/Performance – 6/10

There are two engines available in the HR-V, being a 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 1.6-litre diesel. My test car came with the latter, and the i-DTEC is brilliant. Power is 120PS and 300Nm of torque. This is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox, and results in a 0-62mph time of 10.2 seconds and a top speed of 119mph. I wouldn’t describe the performance as “blistering”, but around town the HR-V feels nippy enough. Thanks to the torque on offer, in-gear acceleration is plentiful. On the motorway you can cruise along in 6th gear, without needing to change down to overtake. On the 4WD version of the CR-V this engine gives 160PS, and I would have liked to see that power output- and frankly the 4WD capability too- in the HR-V. But it does a job, and overall I have to say it does it well.

Yes, the HR-V is two-wheel drive only. But realistically this is an urban car; a family hatchback with a higher driving position. When you add in the cost (and worsened economy figures) of a 4WD system and offset that against how often it would be needed, I can’t see the appeal. The steering is good, with a direct feel and sharp turn-in. The ride though, is surprisingly hard; with bumps and potholes rather noticeable in the cabin. It’s not like the HR-V corners flat either, with a noticeable lean when cornering at speed. The aforementioned bland seats also lack any form of lateral support. So not only does the car lean through the corners, but you do too. That being said the HR-V is a comfortable cruiser on the motorway.

Economy – 10/10

Honda’s i-DTEC engine is very frugal indeed. It features start/stop technology to save fuel in traffic. You can also push a button for an Eco mode, which encourages more efficient driving and reduces fuel usage. You do notice reduced throttle response, but when used in conjunction with cruise control you see better mpg figures on a longer run. You are also scored on how economical your driving is, with hard acceleration and braking lowering your score. It all works though. Combined fuel consumption figures of 68.9mpg mean you will spend less time at petrol stations, and CO2 emissions are 108g/km put the HR-V in VED band B. Road tax is free in the first year, and £20 thereafter.

Practicality – 10/10

As a family car, the HR-V is faultless. Passenger leg and head room is generous, and the boot is especially spacious. The HR-V features ‘magic seats’ in the rear. The bases fold up to make room for taller items. Alternatively the backs fold flat to create a brilliant load area for those trips to Ikea or for chucking a couple of bikes in the back. In addition to this you can tow up to 1,400kg braked. The HR-V is easy to live with too; the SE Navi model I tested came with satellite navigation, cruise control with speed limiter, auto wipers, auto lights and dual zone climate control as standard. There are two USB ports (and even a HDMI input) under the centre console so you can charge and connect devices as you please.

Fun – 6/10

When it comes to putting a smile on your face, the Honda does well. The styling is trendy, without being as ‘out there’ as the Nissan Juke. With an impressive list of kit there are plenty of gadgets to get the hang of, and things like the magic seats will impress your friends. Unfortunately the HR-V is let down somewhat by the driving experience. The steering is lively but the suspension leaves a little to be desired. A few more horsepower from that diesel engine wouldn’t go amiss either. There is no doubt that the HR-V will satisfy your needs when it comes to family and practical matters. But as for the enjoyment of driving? Possibly not.

Concluding Remarks

And there you have it, my week with the Honda HR-V. Given the rise in popularity of the compact crossover, I can see it being successful. The current model range seems to appeal to a much younger audience than has been stereotyped in the past, and the HR-V would certainly make a brilliant choice for a family car. It’s not perfect, but there is a lot to like about it. I would certainly think it worthy of due consideration. And if you wish to do so, then why not pop into a local dealer or visit the Honda website. The HR-V; making the hustle and bustle of family life a little easier.

Total Score – 40/50

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