Honda H-RV eHev

Honda HRV lr

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A car for our times

By Tim Saunders

As we slowly come to terms with climate change Honda has made a car that might just help.

The first thing I notice about the HR-V is the seats. They are excellent. My interest in such things usually comes further down the line but having previously driven the Nissan Qashqai mild hybrid with its poorly padded offerings, I am keen to compare it with the Honda. These seats are nicely stitched with a variety of textiles including a neat chequered design, hinting at the manufacturer’s racing heritage. It’s not just the thoughtful design here though, they are hugely comfortable and supportive. And they are heated. This latter feature would not usually interest me one little bit in the height of summer when the test takes place. But to my surprise I find myself regularly using it! You see during a trip to the Isle of Wight we experience the most torrential downpours. As we return to the vehicle absolutely sodden, the heated seats are the perfect way of drying us out and they are very effective. Sadly, though these luxuries are only reserved for the front occupants. The air conditioning quickly warms the car up, too and the windows soon demist.

Good design has always been associated with Honda and this sporty subcompact SUV is no different. Internally there is a considered layout and there's colour. It’s not a dull black run of the mill interior as chosen by numerous manufacturers these days. No, this is something special. There’s some welcoming cream leather effect. This is nicely contrasted with hardwearing black fabric which overall makes a pleasing environment to while away time spent in the Isle of Wight traffic jams. The dashboard is user-friendly and the push button start is easy to operate. It’s an automatic although there are paddleshifts either side of the steering wheel.

Externally, it is attractive, as you might expect and looks like a three door thanks to the location of the rear door handles. Its roof rails add a further touch of cool. I don’t know how the design team does it but they always seem to come up with striking models. There’s a mix of straight lines and curves. I would go as far as saying that from a design perspective this is my favourite vehicle on the roads currently.

It also has a pleasing surprise up its sleeve for me because when I start my test it tells me that it will cover 369 miles on its full tank. But then perhaps a 100 miles in it suddenly tells me that it will travel 386 miles before the tank needs refilling. The fact that this is not a mild hybrid but a full hybrid, means that it is possible to run on fully electric power, if required, meaning that it is more environmentally friendly but also much more efficient. Bear in mind that it has a tiddly 40 litre petrol tank compared to the standard 55 litres (some vehicles even have a 65 litre tank) means that it will cost under £100 (Nov 2022) to fill up at £1.80 a litre… - a car for our times compared to nearly £120 if filling up a 65 litre tank. And you don’t have to suffer as a result because if you’re careful it will cover 459 miles on a full tank. In short I am impressed. This is the joy of hybrid motoring, sensible driving is rewarded. The 1.5 petrol unit is gutsy with enjoyable acceleration and it can be a great driver’s car if the need arises as you might expect of technology developed by Honda’s Formula One racing team…. In the old days it was necessary for the driver to push a button to engage EV mode. Not any longer. The Honda does it automatically. What a Godsend. So driving off the driveway, crawling in a traffic jam or driving in a 30mph zone can all be done in EV mode without any thought from the driver. It works a treat. We drive through Lyndhurst in EV mode, feeling happy for the pedestrians whose air is that little bit less polluted because of our Honda.

Driving through the New Forest I spy an opportunity to overtake a Nissan Qashqai carrying four bicycles on its roof. The driver doesn’t like it and accelerates to try and prevent me but the Honda is so gutsy it makes light work of the opportunity and very safely manoeuvres, leaving him in the rear view mirror. The ride height and the responsive hybrid technology are a fantastic combination. It is a joy to throw around bends and tight corners. There are some excellent windy back lanes to Lee-on-the-Solent and sometimes they can be free of traffic such as on the occasion I travel down it with the Honda. It’s a nice cut through to get to Gosport for my eye test. Pressing the accelerator to the floor does create a bit of a noisy response and it’s quick, reminding me of the excellent Jaguar XE that I tested. Really good fun to drive at speed. On occasions when there is less demanding driving, the automatic box can be criticised for being indecisive but I forgive it.

The power boot seems to be a little quicker opening and shutting than others and can easily be paused by pushing another button, which is helpful. I like the way the parcel shelf/security cover is connected to the boot lid, too.

I have long championed self-charging hybrids for their ease of use and environmental credentials but Honda has taken them to another level.

Overall the HR-V is a slick, understated operator, which is my type of vehicle.

I don’t often say this but if I could afford it, I’d buy one. Well done Honda.

Facts at a glance
 
Price from £27,960 to £34,850 (model tested)
Fuel tank size: 40 litres
0 to 60mph: 8.6secs
Top speed: 106mph
Power: 129bhp
Economy: Over 53mpg

 

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