Road tests by motoring journalist Tim Saunders
Above: Tim Saunders with Vicki Butler-Henderson
By Tim Saunders
When the Honda HR-V arrives on my doorstep (it’s a tough job being a motoring journalist) I was very pleasantly surprised. You see I remember the original HR-V in production from 1999 to 2006, which looked, frankly, strange. It was a quirky vehicle that didn’t really look comfortable in itself and quite boxy, too.
This second generation model is a veritable delight. It’s curvaceous and sexy and extremely youthful looking no doubt enhanced by its pearly white finish. First and foremost it is a sports utility vehicle (SUV) but I would go as far as saying that it is one of the most stylish I have had the pleasure of driving. Head on it looks fresh; I like the curvaceous front end and from the rear there is a hint of the frog about it thanks to its slightly arched back.
Like its smaller sibling, the Civic, the side profile suggests that it is only a three door thanks to the use of the neat concealed door handles. But of course it is not, it’s a five. Manufacturers are really raising the bar when it comes to alloy wheels these days too and Honda is no different, there is a very flash set that certainly enhances the overall look.
Step inside and there is a feeling that the driver and occupants are one step ahead of the competition. For instance, select the temperature and fan speed by touchscreen – the first time I have come across this. But I find this slower to react to my requirements than traditional buttons and switches when driving because it is necessary to be quite precise and inevitably when keeping their eyes on the road, the driver cannot be.
Supportive black leather seats provide a luxury feeling to the interior. The panoramic glass roof not only allows a huge amount of light into the otherwise dark cabin but it also incorporates a tilt/slide electrically operated sunroof; this is quite unusual because often manufacturers seem to just include a glass roof but no sunroof. There is also an electrically sliding cover.
A choice of two engines: either the 1.5-litre petrol or the 1.6 turbo diesel; the test vehicle is fitted with the latter. The typical diesel rattle is present on start up but most drivers won’t mind this when they can travel over 600 miles on a full tank.
To drive, the HR-V generally feels a capable vehicle and not too large. However, it can be easy to misjudge its width despite the lane departure device that bleeps if the driver goes over the middle of the road.
The thin manual gearstick is a novelty and positively adds to the driving experience, making selecting any one of the six gears thoroughly enjoyable. It is a good decisive unit.
There is a centre armrest in the front and a folding one in the centre rear. And there are plenty of cupholders, too.
My daughters quickly discover that there are buttons on the side of the front headrests that if pushed allow them to move the headrests. Where would I be without them? I cannot lock Heidi (2) in the car while I fetch her car seat because she sets the alarm off…
A sizeable boot makes light work of most loads and there is plenty of legroom front and back.
Yes, I do like this HR-V.
Facts at a glance