Honda Ireland recently launched both the new Jazz and the HRV to the Irish motoring press. Concentrating on the HRV for this article we were impressed to see the compact crossover from Honda make its much-anticipated comeback. It’s hard to believe that the original HR-V was launched in 1999 long before other manufacturers even thought about building a car for this sector! The original HR-V which was the smaller brother of the Civic based CR-V could seat four and had the high-riding style of an SUV with two and four-wheel drive options. The country was awash with HR-V’s but that was largely down the influx of Japanese imports on top of the 2000 Irish units sold. Every six weeks the big boat arrived and yet more Honda’s rolled off. Although successful, the lack of a diesel engine and also the cramped rear seats meant that the HR-V was becoming dated and in 2005 production stopped for the HR-V as Honda concentrated on different vehicles. Since 2005 this C-Segment has completely exploded with cars like the Opel Mokka, Renault Captur and the Nissan Juke. Honda quite simply had to come back to the party.
Today here in Honda HQ just off the Naas road we are admiring the all new HR-V and what a great looking vehicle it is. Like any good band, Honda seem to have the ability to lie low for a few years and then come back with that cracking album or compact SUV in this case! The HR-V is based on the new Jazz platform, but with a length of 4,294mm it’s 159mm longer than a Nissan Juke. It certainly has presence and with the corporate look Honda nose, flanked arches and stylish headlights it certainly looks the part in this quirky segment. Despite dimensions that are similar to a Renault Captur, the HR-V has interior space that rivals the Nissan Qashqai, In fact the rear legroom is not far off that of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The boot will swallow 470 litres, which is 40 litres bigger than the Qashqai and you can drop the rear seats for 1,533 litres of space. That’s about 50 litres down on the Qashqai but around 250 more than the CX-3 and nearly 350 more than the Nissan Juke. Add to this the super clever rear seats that also fold up and you have a great compact SUV for transporting all sorts.
Here in Ireland the HR-V is offered in SE, ES, and EX trims with all models coming with cruise control, climate control and automatic headlights. There are just two engines available with a brand new 128bhp 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol, which is quiet and smooth, and a 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel, which we had to test. Prices start from €23,995 on the petrol and €25,995 on the diesel but rise to €32,895 depending on the model and trim. The petrol comes with six-speed manual or a new CVT transmissions; the diesel just comes with the manual box. Our test route was roughly 90km long down to Brooklodge in Macreddin Village Co Wicklow, which incorporated both motorway and back roads allowing us to get a nice feel for the HR-V. We tried the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel in EX trim and it felt great out on the road. The chassis felt subtle, it cornered well and the diesel engine wasn’t too noisy. Inside we noticed some switchgear is shared with the Civic, but overall the dash design is unique to the HR-V with new plastics and materials used throughout. Honda admits it was behind the Europeans on interior touch and feel but this new HR-V feels much better than the typical “built to last” Japanese finish.
The smart touchscreen with climate control is simple to use and within seconds I had my phone paired, Nav set and the radio on. Safety is paramount also even the entry level models you get Honda’s City-Brake Active System as standard, while SE or EX models feature Honda’s Advanced Driver Assist System, which uses radar sensors, plus forward- and rear-facing cameras. This intelligent system includes Forward Collision Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Limiter, Lane Departure Warning and High-beam Support System. Although the HR-V has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP Honda is confident a full five-star rating will be awarded thanks to the safety systems on offer. Although our drive was brief, it’s hard to find fault with the new HR-V. Some other journalists said the optional CVT gearbox was slow and noisy but our manual was joyous to spend time with. For us the HR-V sits in the middle ground between Juke and Qashqai, Captur and Kadjar and CX-3 and CX-5 but its certainly shining bright enough to be noticed. Get a test drive before they are all gone because Honda have indicated allocation could be an issue in 2016.
|Engine Size||1.6 i-DTEC|
|Acceleration (0-100km/h)||10.0 seconds|
|Road Tax||Band A3 €190|
|Price||€23,995 – €32,865|