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Honda HR-V Test Drive Review

Date: 10 July 2015

Category: Crossover
P11D price: £22,050
Key rival: Nissan Qashqai
On sale: August 2015
Equipment: DAB radio with aux/USB, climate control, cruise control, automatic headlamps, City-Brake Active, Bluetooth,
multi-function steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors
Engines: Petrol: 128hp 1.5 Diesel: 118hp 1.6
Trims: S, SE, SE Navi, EX
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, CVT auto (petrol only)

Honda is keen to talk up how it pioneered the crossover segment with the launch of the original HR-V in 1999.

What's harder for the company to answer is why it failed to replace it in 2005, abandoning the segment to Nissan and its Qashqai. The obvious conclusion is it misjudged the market; cynics might suggest succession-planning isn't Honda's strong suit, pointing to the FR-V, CR-Z, Accord and S2000 as further evidence.

At 4294mm, the new HR-V is a foot longer than its predecessor, and the same amount shorter than its big brother, the CR-V. The exterior has something of the Mazda CX-5 about it - notably the coupe-like roof that drops at the rear - although the shallow Y-shaped nose creates a visual link to the current Civic and forthcoming Jazz.

The interior is by far the most European in terms of design and quality that Honda has ever brought to market. The seven-inch touchscreen is integrated into the dashboard, with neat touch-sensitive ventilation controls below, and credit where it's due: the horizontal element around the gearstick is both stylish and practical.

The double-decker layout, with storage and 12V/USB ports hidden from view, is smart, and the twin cupholders have clever flip-out dividers and false bottoms for extra depth. Sadly, corners have been cut with the fabric door trim.

Also a disappointment is the low resolution of the Honda Connect touchscreen - fitted to all but the entry-level car - plus the choice of Garmin satellite navigation software on SE Navi and EX models. The latter's graphics and response times feel dated, and seem a strange choice when Garmin has a faster, more modern version available. The reason is presumably cost.

Cabin space and practicality is the HR-V's trump card, with class-leading room and Honda's famed Magic Seats from the Jazz bringing new levels of versatility to the sector. With a fold-flat rear and a passenger chair that tips back near-horizontal, loads close to 2.5 metres can be carried.

The HR-V has either a 118hp 1.6-litre diesel or 128hp 1.5-litre petrol engine, the former with a six-speed manual only and the latter with the option of a CVT auto.

With around 5000 sales this financial year, the diesel will be the top-seller and is the pick of the range. The stubby, short-shift gearstick adds a sporty note to the drive and, while the steering is a touch light, the car handles well and soaks up bumps with surprising efficiency. By contrast, the CVT seems unrefined; it's okay if driven steadily, but when pushed - for example, to get up a hill - becomes noisy and harsh.
Honda purists will love the HR-V, although time will tell if the company's prediction of 70% conquest sales proves accurate.

Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SE Navi

Model price range £17,995-£24,945
Fuel consumption 68.9mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 108g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £70/£140
Warranty 3yrs/90,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 453/1533 litres
Engine size/power 1597cc/118hp


10 years late, the new HR-V is a solid proposition for user-choosers
  • Class-leading interior space
  • Versatile cabin
  • Dashboard design
  • Dated infotainment software
  • Noisy CVT transmission
  • Cheap door trim