From the ubiquitous ‘postie bike’ to the Civic hot hatch and NSX hybrid supercar, not to mention motorcycles, lawnmowers and generators, Honda has spent half a century keeping up with Australia’s automotive needs.
Included in this august line-up is the compact HR-V, the world’s most popular sports utility vehicle, which has undergone an extensive upgrade following its introduction Down Under in 2015. Included is a new variant, the RS, designed for the sporty driver who wants a more edgy experience behind the wheel.
Now in four model grades – VTi, VTi-S, new RS and VTi-LX – across the range styling takes on the very stylish cues of the latest Honda Civic, including a new front bumper and grille, along with LED headlamps from VTi-S and above.
Power comes from a 1.8-litre, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine mated with a revised continuously variable transmission with stepped ratios, designed to deliver driving performance and fuel economy. All grades are front-wheel drive.
The new HR-V comes to market from $24,990, plus on-road costs, with the VTi automatic and tops out with VTi-LX auto at $34,590. The new RS, the test vehicle, slots in at $31,990.
First introduced in 1995, the HR-V stood out from an increasingly gathering crowd with its somewhat quirky appearance. The year 2005 saw a change of character. Gone was the square, upright stance of the original model, replaced by that of a compact SUV very much of today.
Edgy lines brought together in a sleek silhouette, the latest lighting technology including LED headlamps and the ubiquitous daytime running lights, and black chrome grille, honeycomb lower grille and fog light garnish set the ball rolling up front. Black mirror caps and door handles continue the trend.
Leaning towards a coupe in its clean exterior profile with a sharply raked windscreen, bold grille and flared wheel arches plus concealed handles positioned on the door edge to produce a two-door effect, the styling has been retained in the latest iteration. The RS rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the feeling for occupants is of space. An elevated driving position offers excellent visibility, as well as making getting in and out of the car easy for a range of drivers.
The load area is fully flat when the rear seats are folded down, a very useful feature which is surprisingly rare in SUVs from other marques.
A clearly set-out instrument cluster is designed to involve the driver and front-seat passenger in a unique driving experience. This includes feedback to the driver via an illuminated speedometer ring which changes colour to match how economically the car is being driven – green for good, naturally.
RS occupants are cosseted in seats, heated at the front, wrapped in quality leather with bases lengthened for the kind of comfort usually only found in luxury sedans.
A leather-bound sports steering wheel is home to paddle shifters, while pedals are fitted with anti-slip alloy pads for grip in spirited driving manoeuvres.
The 7-inch touchscreen integrated into the central dashboard provides easy access to the audio system and Bluetooth connectivity. Built-in satellite navigation is standard across the HR-V range. The system also features video playback via an HDMI interface.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The single overhead camshaft 16-valve, i-VTEC engine has extensive friction-reducing technologies that help lower emissions and improve fuel economy while delivering 105 kW of power at 6500 rpm and 172 Nm of torque at a rather high 4300 rpm.
However, the CVT auto is set up to enhance torque in the lower rev range.
HR-V utilises Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure technology for occupant safety, while side impact protection and front, side and full-length curtain airbags are standard across the range.
Honda’s innovative Lane Watch makes a return to HR-V. Using a camera in the passenger-side mirror it displays live video on the 7-inch display screen giving an 80-degree view of left-lane traffic to help drivers monitor blind spots if they haven’t set-up the door mirrors correctly.
The standard reversing camera can display three different angles – normal, top-down and wide, to enhance visibility when reversing. A very handy feature.
HR-V is equipped with standard anti-lock braking, electronic brake distribution and brake assist. Other standard active safety features include vehicle stability assist, motion adaptive EPS, hill start assist and an emergency stop signal.
The HR-V RS 1.8 litre, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine is mated to a CVT with sequential paddle shifters. In ‘S’ mode it has seven stepped ratios if drivers want to bypass the inherent efficiency of the CVT.
Fuel economy is claimed 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle. Our test-car consumption used 11 litres per 100 kilometres in town and 5.2 on the motorway.
Unique RS damper and spring rates in the in this HR-V deliver a more rewarding drive with flatter cornering, greater control and a more stable ride than many small SUVs, while a new variable steering gear ratio enhances low-speed manoeuvrability with steering wheel movement reduced from 2.79 (in non-RS grades) to 2.38.
The sharply raked rear window limits the driver’s view behind. However, the fuel tank’s positioning under the front seats, as opposed to the more usual spot beneath the rear seats, enables the HR-V to carry 437 litres of cargo with the seat backs up and 1462 litres with rear seats down.
Also, Honda’s innovative Magic Seats, with up to 18 configurations, mean carrying bulky or odd-shaped items is a breeze.
An electric parking brake on the centre console releases automatically when the car moves off and an adjacent nifty ‘brake hold’ button making the driver’s life more relaxing in stop-start situations.
Over the years, the HR-V has continued to change with the times for the better. The addition of the RS to the range offers the chance to enjoy a little ‘sport’ with a small SUV.
AT A GLANCE
Honda HR-V 1.8 VTi automatic 2WD $24,990
Honda HR-V 1.8 VTi-S auto 2WD $27,990
Honda HR-V 1.8 RS auto 2WD $31,990
Honda HR-V 1.8 VTi-LX auto 2WD $34,590
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Honda dealer for drive-away prices.
(Honda HR-V 1.8-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine, automatic FWD SUV)
Capacity: 1799 cc
Configuration: 1.8-litre, 4 cylinder inline, continuously variable automatic transmission
Maximum Power: 105 kW @ 6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 172 Nm @ 4300 rpm
Fuel type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 6.7 litres per 100 km
CO2 emissions 152 g / km
Drivetrain: Continuously variable automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4360 mm
Width: 1790 mm
Height: 1605 mm
Wheelbase: 2610 mm
Kerb weight: 1294 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Turning circle: 11.0 m
Front: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres