Thursday 20 October 2016

Eddie Cunningham drives Honda’s new compact SUV, the HR-V

Published 11/07/2015 | 08:48

2015 Honda HR-V
2015 Honda HR-V

Here’s another compact SUV for you – to add to the seemingly endless list of existing, or imminent, models.

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This week it is Honda’s new HR-V, a smaller coupe-like crossover that will cost from €23,995 when it gets to Ireland in September. Diesels will start from €25,995.

It’s different, I’ll grant them that: not as tall and muscular as most rivals.

And because of the way it is both internally structured and built it manages to create a lot of space in the cabin. It is not as big as the Nissan Qashqai but – Honda claim – it has more interior room.

And that would appear to blur normal lines between segments. Which is why they are claiming it is just as much an option for someone looking at the likes of the Qashqai or the Renault Captur.

Watch out for the colour. I felt the dark blue dulled it a bit while it is a far different proposition altogether in red.

The starting prices are a bit misleading too, I think, because Honda have chosen not to go the ‘bare bones’ entry-level model route to trawl the lower-cost end of the market. Few buy that sort of car any more so it is far more realistic to begin with the trim people are going to buy.

That means the ‘starting’ spec level has 16ins alloys, climate control, Bluetooth, City-Brake and cruise control as standard. That trim level also has auto lights, CD Radio with 5ins i-MID, remote audio controls and Idle Stop.

 The next spec up has parking sensors, Honda Connect infotainment system, 17ins alloys, dual-zone climate control, dynamic safety pack, six-speakers and front fogs.

And top-of-the-range adds leather, panoramic sunroof, Garmin nav, LED headlamps, reversing camera and privacy glass.

The cabin was roomy and I found plenty of space in the back after setting my driver’s seat to suit me. Surprising. There are a couple of main reasons for that. They have the petrol tank further up the car, under the front seats, and that leaves a higher, but flatter floor and means the marque’s Magic Seat system can work. It gives a big variety of seat-up/seat down options for passengers and luggage. I’ll give you an idea by outlining the three major modes:

*‘Utility’ - where the rear seatback folds forward so you get a big, flat floor.

*‘Tall’- where the base of the rear seat(s) lifts up and locks parallel with the seat back so you get huge ground-to-ceiling clearance for a big awkward object.

* ‘Long’ - front-and-rear passenger seatbacks fold forward horizontally. An 8ft ski-board will fit with the front passenger seat down.

The boot has 453 litres which expands to 1,026 when the rear seats are folded away.

As I’ve said, Honda see the Qashqai as a big rival; they are of similar width and height but the HR-V is 8cm shorter.

But also in the HR-V’s sights are buyers of the likes of the Renault Captur, Skoda Yeti, Audi Q3, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade, Opel Mokka, Hyundai ix35, Toyota RAV-4 – Lord there is no end to the list?

The HR-V is front-wheel drive only – no 4WD for Europe - and the main models have 6spd manual transmission.

 The 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel and 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol provide the power.

This 120bhp diesel is one of the current great engines out there. In this latest Crossover it manages a claimed 4.0/4.1 litr/100km depending on 16in or 17ins wheels (70.8mpg/68.9mpg) and incurs €190 road tax.

The 1.5 litre i-VTEC petrol develops 130bhp (a claimed 5.6/5.7l/100km, 50.4/49.6mpg, €270/€280 road tax). 

You can also get a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic version with the 1.5 litre petrol (130bhp, 5.2/5.4l/100km, 54.3/52/3mpg, €200/€270 road tax depending on wheel size).

Realistically the HR-V is a 161-reg option for buyers as its September arrival rules out purchases of any appreciable nature.

But the interval will give people a chance to drive and assess.

I think that, in an expanding market, it will no doubt find its admirers because it has the looks to go with the practicality. They expect 500 or so to buy one in 2016. 

By then you can be sure it will have even more rivals - there seems to be no end to demand for these Crossovers.

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