Richard Dredge is the custodian of the third generation HR-V that arrived on the fleet early in the new year. READ ON TO FIND OUT HOW HE IS GETTING ALONG WITH IT.
It seems incredible that it’s already almost six years since I last ran a Honda HR-V. It was a second-generation model with the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine; the powertrain was one of the best things about the car, but there will be no more diesels from Honda unfortunately. Instead, it’s hybrid all the way (with the odd EV thrown in for good measure), as demonstrated by my new steed, an HR-V Advance Style.
Sitting at the top of the HR-V pile (above the Elegance and Advance), our test car features such luxuries as heating for the front seats and steering wheel, parking sensors at both ends (plus a rear camera), a powered tailgate and part-synthetic leather trim. That’s one of the nicest things about the HR-V; the interior is swathed in light materials, but the bits that are likely to get grubby are darker, so it’s practical and much less oppressive than most new car interiors.
You have two choices as far as HR-V powertrains are concerned: take it, or leave it. Say yes and you’ll have a 106bhp 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine up front, which drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. With just 96lb ft of torque (from 4,500rpm) it’s not an especially muscular engine, but another 187lb ft of torque is provided by the electric motor which assists when you need some extra shove. More about what the HR-V is like to drive, in a future issue.
As a confirmed diesel fan, I wasn’t sure that I’d like my first plug-in hybrid, which I ran before the Honda (a Cupra Formentor). That won me over pretty comprehensively (and fairly quickly too), but I think the HR-V is going to find it harder to win my affections. I remember racking up lots of miles in a second-generation Toyota Prius when those arrived two decades ago, and I struggled to achieve more than 40mpg, because with my long-distance high-speed motorway journeys (which is mainly what I do), the engine was always under load, so the battery pack didn’t really get the chance to charge up. Again, I’ll focus on this in a future report, because while I’ve already settled into a rhythm of achieving 42mpg so far, it’s clear that the official fuel economy figures aren’t completely pie in the sky – if you drive the car in the right way.
As with most Hondas, the driving experience and the exterior design are as innocuous as each other. Although the HR-V looks quite eye-catching in the pictures, in reality it doesn’t stand out from the crowd all that much. It’s the same with the dynamics, in that while the HR-V doesn’t do anything badly, its steering, brakes, ride, handling and refinement levels are all pretty average. However, if there’s one area that tends to grow on me over time, proving the benefits of a long-term test, it’s the driving experience, so stay tuned…
Where the HR-V does impress is with cabin space, because there’s acres of it. Those in the back have almost limousine-like amounts of legroom, and while the back seat doesn’t slide back and forth, versatility is improved with the fitment of tip-up cinema-style Magic Seats, as seen in the Jazz. With the back seat in place the HR-V Advance Style can stow just 320 litres because of the integrated sub woofer; lesser models boost this to 335 litres, and with the seats folded down this jumps to 1,290 litres. In practice the boot doesn’t seem especially capacious, but it’s hard to make comparisons because the HR-V is one of those cars that sits between the B and C-segments; it’s part-way between a Puma and a Kuga or a Captur and a Kadjar, but closer to the smaller car in each case. What’s interesting is that I’d assumed the HR-V is a C-segment contender ever since it arrived, which goes to show just how much cabin space there is.