In its short time on the market, the Honda HR-V has made its presence felt. At the time of its release, Honda’s Australian line-up was in need of a new playmaker. The HR-V was to become the defibrillator that would shock Honda back into the minds of new car buyers.
As the first in a series of all-new models, the HR-V was instrumental in paving the way for Honda’s sales resurgence in 2017. With the brilliant new Civic performing strongly and a new CR-V on the way, Honda is primed to hit lofty heights before year's end.
In what has become a very competitive market segment that features the Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-3, the HR-V has done well to establish a meaningful presence and provide Honda with some genuine showroom appeal.
On test here is the HR-V VTi-L, the top-of-the-range model. In this specification, the HR-V comes in at a list price of $33,490 plus on-roads, which is comparable to the top variants from other brands.
All models in the HR-V range come well equipped in terms of comfort and safety. The VTi-L brings some nice additional appointments including leather trim, a retractable panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate-control, retractable door mirrors and anti-slip alloy pedal covers.
Where the HR-V sets itself apart from its rivals is in the way it combines practicality and style. This is especially evident throughout the cabin. The HR-V’s trump card is its very clever use of internal space, Honda’s designers have made use of all 2,610mm of its wheelbase.
Honda has been able to deliver an incredibly flexible interior, a centre fuel tank position has allowed the Magic Seats to be installed. Honda’s Magic Seats offer owners 18 different seating configurations, it’s a masterstroke that gives the HR-V some unique flexibility.
There is also a huge 437 litres of cargo space. With the rear seats folded down, this figure increases to a whopping 1,032 litres.
Four large adults will find the HR-V cabin to be spacious and comfortable. The wide base of the heated front seats is comfortable and supportive. For those in the second row, rear legroom is exceptional for a car of this size. The HR-V defies its compact exterior.
Putting practicality aside, the overall design and presentation of the interior are impressive. It’s a very clean layout with controls orientated towards the driver making them easy to see.
Cabin materials are reasonably good throughout, the very soft, premium feeling door cards are lovely to touch. The decision to use piano black trim on the centre stack does nothing to elevate what is already a well-presented cabin. The matte finish used in the entry versions of the HR-V look considerably better.
Ingenious touches like the storage compartment under the centre stack and the configurable cup holder system are typical Honda and serve to strengthen the excellent interior packaging.
The touch-sensitive climate control panel looks great, but takes some getting used to, at times we found simple processes like altering the temperature or fan speed a bit fiddly.
The infotainment system isn’t as comprehensive as the one used in the new Civic. It offers a clear 7-inch touch screen with Bluetooth connectivity and Siri Eyes Free Integration but the system misses out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
All in all, the HR-V has a stand out interior, the only thing that looked out of place was the excessive amount of foam padding protruding from the top of the dash.
Powering all Australian HR-V models is the familiar 1.8-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine producing 105kW of power at 6500rpm and 172Nm maximum torque at 4300rpm.
Honda has paired the engine to a CVT automatic, there is no manual available. It’s one of the better CVT transmission options, Honda has tuned the software so that it simulates a regular automatic. The VTi-L is equipped with paddle shifters, but we were never inclined to reach for them.
At this stage, Honda does not offer the HR-V in an all-wheel drive configuration, power is sent exclusively to the front wheels.
Turning to the driving experience, the HR-V doesn’t deliver the sporty drive that the exterior design of the car suggests that it will.
There is good acceleration off the line, however, in this instance, the engine isn't one for performance. The HR-V is a car that gets the job done in a no-nonsense sort of way reminiscent of what one would expect from Toyota.
The HR-V offers sound dynamic ability, despite Honda’s claims of a low centre of gravity relative to the height of the car, it feels like an SUV and is generally happy to glide along. Naturally, as a high rider, there is some lean, but the HR-V’s body control is on the money.
Moving to the steering setup, it isn't as nimble as some in the class. There is a sporty feel to the steering making the overall manoeuvrability one of the best aspects of the drive.
The suspension is on the firm side. On country roads, where bumpy surfaces are the norm the odd thump will make its way into the cabin, this is exacerbated at speed. There is also noticeable tyre and wind noise when the needle ticks over 80km per hour.
LaneWatch is one of our favourite features on the HR-V. It’s something of a blind spot monitor that shows an image from a camera mounted in the wing mirror on the infotainment screen when the driver indicates left. It can also be activated by a button on the end of the indicator stalk. It’s a very handy feature to have in congested city traffic, it would be useful to have cameras in both mirrors for right-side lane changes.
The official combined consumption figure for the VTi-L is 6.9 litres per 100km. At the conclusion of our week with the HR-V, we returned an economy figure of 7.6L/100km.
Ownership costs are reasonable, under the Honda Tailored Servicing program, each visit to the service department is capped at $298. Intervals are set at 12-months/10,000km.
Honda continues to stick with a three-year/100,000km warranty. In today’s market, this level of coverage is average.
At the end of our week with the HR-V, we came away big fans. After two years on sale, in what has become a very competitive segment, the HR-V remains a great choice. The HR-V is all about interior practicality and versatility, two characteristics its rivals will struggle to match. Essentially, the HR-V stands out in a crowded space as the thinking person's compact SUV.
2017 Honda HR-V VTi-L Specifications
Price from $33,340 plus on-road costs Engine 1.8L In-line 4 cylinder petrol Power 105kW @ 6,500rpm Torque 172Nm 4,300rpm Transmission CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 6.9L/100km Tank Capacity 50L Length 4,294mm Width 1,772mm Height 1,605mm Wheelbase 2,610mm Tare Mass 1347kg Ground Clearance 170mm Turning circle 10.6m Service Intervals 12-months or 10,000km Warranty three year/100,000 kilometre
Let’s start a Car Conversation, does Honda need to offer a manual transmission option and an all-wheel drive variant to expand the appeal of the HR-V?
More: All Reviews
More: 2017 Haval H6 LUX Review