2015 Honda HR-V at a glance
- Handling: ★★★★☆
- Performance: ★★★☆☆
- Costs: ★★★☆☆
Back in 1999 Honda went a bit bonkers. The generally conservative car maker launched a weird high-riding, high-revving compact crossover called the HR-V. It had chunky, funky looks with stylistic quirks (the rear spoiler on its square rear end, for example), lurid paint options and part-time four-wheel drive for “go anywhere” driving. Marketed as the “Joy Machine”, it was designed to lure younger buyers to the brand.
As a driver in my early twenties, I for one was convinced. I liked the zippy petrol engines and the way it handled like a car, despite its commanding view of the road. Not enough buyers felt the same way, though, and in 2006 Honda pulled the plug on the HR-V.
Now, though, an all-new Honda HR-V has been unleashed.
Once again, it’s a compact crossover that sits below the CR-V in the Honda range, and once again it’s aimed at younger buyers: Dinkys (double income, no kids yet) and Sinkys (similar thing, but lonelier), but that is pretty much where the similarities end. The new HR-V is an altogether more grown-up and practical prospect.
It looks agile, but it’s also smart, solid and very much part of the crossover crowd. If you’re after something a bit different, the Nissan Juke is still the car to get.
While the outside is poised enough, the inside is a decidedly undramatic affair. The dashboard of our EX-trim model was a sea of black plastic components that were – typically for Honda – bolted together as tightly as a Victorian corset, but the cabin lacked the aesthetic flair of the original HR-V. It was about as stimulating as a padded cell.
But there’s method in Honda’s lack of madness. The layout is clean and clear, with most of the control buttons – climate control, heated seats and so on – replaced by a touchscreen. Honda’s infotainment system is becoming more sophisticated and easier to use too, with Garmin sat nav, apps and internet browsing functions.
What’s more, the driving position is superb and the seat in the EX was one of the most comfortable I’ve sat in for some time. Rear-seat passengers enjoy a generous amount of legroom for a car of this size, which could not be said of the old HR-V.
The clincher for buyers may well be the rear Magic Seats. If you’re not a fan of Honda’s ingenious folding chairs yet, you will become a convert when you see them in action. Flip the cushions up and you’ve got access to the full height and width of the cabin.
Honda also scores very well on boot space, with 453 litres of capacity with the rear seat backs in the upright position – a full 100 litres more than either of its closest rivals, the Nissan Juke or Mazda CX-3. Fold them flat (very simple) and it does less well (see table below).
The 1.5 i-VTEC petrol engine powers the HR-V from standstill to 62mph in a not unreasonable 10.2 seconds but peak torque comes at 4600rpm, as against 1600rpm in the equivalent petrol Juke, which results in a characterful (and very “Honda”) driving experience but makes it a chore for less enthusiastic drivers.
We drove the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel version, which offers ample torque at low revs and does up to 70.6mpg, with only 108g/km of carbon dioxide coming from the exhaust (which is still, at present, what the taxman cares about).
Other good things about the HR-V? Plenty of safety systems, such as City Brake Active, which uses radar to scan the road at speeds under 20mph and automatically apply the brake if an imminent collision is detected. Such devices can quickly become tiresome but Honda’s version is unobtrusive, like an old friend that has got your back rather than an interfering busybody.
In the new HR-V Honda has created a solid, competent compact crossover that is more versatile than most of the competition. Its conservatism and practicality will probably make the HR-V more of a success this time round. It’s a shame it has lost much of the character that made the original car so appealing.
2015 Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX specifications
- PRICE: £24,945
- ENGINE: 1597cc, 4 cylinders, turbodiesel
- POWER: 118bhp @ 4000rpm
- TORQUE: 221 lb ft @ 2000rpm
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
- ACCELERATION: 0-62mph in 10.5sec
- TOP SPEED: 119mph
- FUEL: 68.9mpg (combined)
- CO2: 108g/km
- ROAD TAX BAND: B (free for first year; £20 thereafter)
- RELEASE DATE: On sale now
2015 Honda HR-V rivals compared
|Honda HR-V||Nissan Juke||Mazda CX-3|
|Boot – seats up||453 litres||354 litres||350 litres|
|Boot – seats dwn||1026 litres||1189 litres||1260 litres|
|Comp. engine||1.5 i-VTEC S||1.6 DIG-T 115||2.0 Skyactiv-G 120PS|
|Transmission||6-speed man||6-speed man||6-speed man|
|Torque||114lb ft @ 4600rpm||140lb ft @1600rpm||155lb ft @ 2800rpm|
|Tax (1st yr/std)*||D (£0/£110)||D (£0/£110)||E (£130/£130)|
*Until changes to new cars from April 1, 2017