When we took custody of our Honda HR-V in range-topping EX trim last autumn, we were keen to try the second generation of the car that helped to establish the small SUV niche, a full nine years after production of its predecessor had ceased.

So how does the two-wheel-drive HR-V – High Rider Recreational Vehicle in Honda-speak – fare
against the gaggle of continental and Japanese rivals that constitute a large part of the UK’s fastest-growing automotive sector?

The latter-day HR-V shares its platform with the new Jazz, and our high-line EX variant also benefits from the strong yet frugal 1.6-litre, 120hp, i-DTEC diesel, which was delayed by the company’s post-recession development hiatus.

As early adopters keen to secure an HR-V, we were allocated the more opulent six-speed manual EX, which comes with a high level of equipment. While not a hardship it included gear that might not be the pragmatic choice of many fleets.

A 4.4% price hike soon pushed its P11D up to a hefty £26,000. User choosers, who provide its main clientele, could arguably live without heated leather seats, roof rails, privacy glass, a highly effective rear view camera, and LED headlamps, with auto dip/main beam function.

That £2840 increment above SE Navi trim also bought a panoramic sunroof, which enhances the car’s appeal, and the £610 Garmin sat-nav that’s part of the [1] flawed and clunky Connect media system.
The touchscreen takes too long to respond to commands, and lacked the intuitive functionality of the systems in several rivals, such as the Fiat 500X, the thoroughly reworked Ford EcoSport, the Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka.

The HR-V might have had a chunky coupe profile, but nevertheless it excelled in terms of practical interior packaging. Chief among its talents are Honda’s generic tumble-and-tilt “magic’ rear seat format, which cater for varied lifestyles, including pedal-pushers who want to slot a bicycle behind the front seats [2].

This is part of a cabin whose dimensions sit between those of the Nissan Juke and Qashqai, while offering 40 litres more luggage capacity than the bigger of those wo adversaries [3].

Our HR-V had a pliant ride, agile handling, generally competitive fuel economy (53.1mpg) and decent refinement levels. Honda’s engineers have clearly used their development time wisely, because we’ve also tried an automatic version of the larger CR-V using the same engine, which was markedly noisier and harsher.

A little less than 25% of Mexican-sourced HR-Vs are fleet purchases, and that proportion should grow significantly on merit when and if Honda pitches it into Motability. The opposition is right to be threatened by the HR-V’s resurrection.

Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX

Mileage 6891
Official consumption 68.9mpg
Our average consumption 53.1mpg
Forecast/actual CPM 52.9p/53.6p
P11D price £26,000
Model price range £18,495-£26,055
Residual value £9075
Depreciation cost £16,925
Fuel £4005
Service, maintenance and repair £1863
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £3105
CO2 (BIK band) 108g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £79/£158