Like most car makers, Honda saw the writing on the wall. Passenger cars are in a slow but steady decline.
Buyers are moving more and more to SUV or crossover style vehicles for their space, comfort, and high driving position.
HR-V is the Japanese car maker’s second best seller behind the laudable CR-V.
This VTI-LX is the top of the line HR-V and has a list price of $34,590 MLP.
HR-V is Honda’s smallest SUV. In fact it is more like a high-riding hatchback than an SUV. Honda prides itself in the flexibility of its internal space.
Of course the exterior hasn’t been forgotten either.
There are 7 colours, including this one, Phoenix Orange. The pearlescent paint sparkles in the sun. Apart from taffeta White, all colours are either metallic or super showy pearl effect.
Exterior lighting is all LED, and come on automatically in low lights. They have a high-beam assist function. I can’t think who the Honda face reminds me of? (Dame Edna?)
17” wheels are joined by a space saver spare in the boot. There is no substitute for wheel instead of a silly repair kit. I’ve never gotten a repair kit to work yet.
Honda says the side profile is that of a coupe, and at first glance it looks like there are no back doors because there is no back door handle. There is a rear door handle secreted in the C pillar. Let’s face it, most rear seats don’t see much action once you get past a certain age.
Front door handles have buttons for smart entry, and this is coupled with push button start. Please note, the system will not allow you to lock the car with the key inside.
Wheels are 17” on this top model.
The range has a single engine and transmission option.
The 1.8L naturally aspirated Euro5 4 cylinder runs to the front wheels through a CVT automatic. It’s not a traditional automatic because there are no gears as such.
Engine output is a modest 105kw and 172Nm. Fuel figures are fairly impressive too. 6.9L/100k extends to 5.8 on the highway. CO2 is 160g/km.
You’ll get around 900km from the 50L tank on a road trip.
Towing capacity is 800kg for a braked load and the downward force limit on the tow ball is 70kg.
The cabin is a very comfortable place to be.
Unusually we are starting in the back seat. Why? The back seats are magic. No, seriously.
They can be configured in 18 different ways. You can tumble them out of the way to use the floor for tall items, but my favourite is “refresh mode” to have a quick relax on a road trip.
The floor will fold completely flat if you like.
In the front, the seats are as comfortable as the rear.
Fabric is a “soft weave European” affair in some cars. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds luxurious. Our top model had leather “appointed” seats.
They’ve put thought in to the driver instruments too.
It can display different information depending on the driver preferences, and bit lit in different colours.
I’m not quite so fussed on the infotainment system though. It can be slow to respond and the menus aren’t exactly what I’d call intuitive. Simple things like programming radio station favourites is a bit of a faff.
The saving grace is Apple CarPlay and Android auto, and all of the convenience that brings. It makes voice control of phone, text, and navigation simple.
If you use maps to navigate, you can still listen to the radio. The system includes Siri Eyes mode which stops your device screen from lighting up while connected. The safety aspect of that can’t be overstated.
How many accidents could be prevented if you couldn’t see your phone while driving? Instead, major phone functions are accessed through the 7” touch screen.
While the car is parked, you can use an HDMI cable to play video on the touch screen. For obvious reasons, you can’t use it on the road while driving. The last thing you want is the drive watching a movie on a road trip.
All the instruments and controls are easily reached and clearly visible.
Climate controls are accessed with a smart ‘electrostatic” touch panel. It operates just like your phone.
The electric parking brake is released when you move off, as long as you’ve not been naughty and left your seatbelt off. Brake hold is a great feature. Think of it as an extended feature of hill start assist.
Once you’ve pressed the button, you can take your hoof off the pedal. It’s both clever and annoying in equal measure.
Auto high beam too is rather clever. It uses a camera look ahead. With lights in auto mode and in low beam, the system will switch between high and low. You can over ride it by switch the high beam using the stalk, or by selecting normal headlight mode.
I’ve used this in other brands and it can best be described as hit and miss. I’ll bet you a bob that you’ll have truckies having tanties because you’ve flashed them. Oh GROW UP!
The is AEB, but only between speeds of 5 and 32kph.
So, at city speeds, the car will toss out the anchors if it thinks you are going to hit something. I’d prefer all-speed AEB but hey ho.
Honda doesn’t have blind spot monitor in the traditional way.
When the driver indicates left, a camera in the left hand mirror displays the view along the left side of the car on the centre touch screen. You can turn it on any time with a button on the indicator stalk. Though, I can’t think why you’d want to.
Ride is sensational. Macpherson struts at the front and a torsion bar rear end makes handling surprisingly supple.
All was not totally rosy though. A deflating tyre brought up a message I needed help to clear. A menu in the driver instruments handles warnings but clearing them isn’t in the user guide.
The drive was smooth and calm, and above all safe.
See the full review for more details and specs.
- Engine: 1.8L 4Cyl NON-turbo producing 105kW/172Nm
- Transmission: CVT Auto
- Warranty: 5 Yr/ Unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Thailand
- Price: $34,490 MLP* (range starts @ $24,490)
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