Four things we like about the new Honda HR-V
Take a look at both the current and previous generation Honda HR-V, you’ll see that the two designs could not be further apart. In the outgoing shape, the Honda SUV wore the brand’s old design blueprint, which was undoubtedly conservative. Gone are those days, now, Honda is appealing to a completely different crowd with its models, and the new HR-V is a great example of this. From the front, it has traits of an EV with its colour-coded grille with horizontal slats. The design is unique because it combines SUV and coupe styling, with cool little touches such as the integrated door handles at the rear
This is where the HR-V shines, From the outside, it has moderate proportions but the cabin tells a different story. We drove the top-spec Executive HR-V, and it comes fitted with a panoramic glass roof, allowing natural light to fill the interior and make the space feel more open. It isn’t just a feeling - hop over to the rear seat and you’ll discover how spacious the Honda HR-V is, offering ample legroom and a rear bench that can only be described as ‘comfortable’. This space serves a dual purpose too, you see, Honda designed the rear seat to accommodate storage space beneath it. You can stash items you want to keep out of sight, or just use it for additional cabin storage. It gets better, this splitting seat can easily be lifted for more floor space or you can fold it flat, giving you storage options. The boot is flat and level with the bumper, meaning you can use it as a space to sit when outdoors. It also just allows for easier loading and off-loading of large items.
Speaking of the boot - the HR-V has an electronic tailgate that can be operated from the pilot's seat. It has an interesting 'walk away' function, where you push a designated button on the tailgate and gather up all those Woolies grocery bags, and walk away. The tailgate closes itself and locks up behind you. Of course, this tech is the nice-to-have, but there are more serious features in this Honda, like adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist, and Honda’s blind spot camera.
When we had the Honda HR-V in our test garage, Nissan delivered the Qashqai on the same day, which meant we got to drive and evaluate both vehicles side by side. One of the standouts was the difference in price despite them being similar vehicles. The Qashqai is definitively the more premium product, while the Honda offers more space and functionality at nearly R120 000 less. With an asking price of R554 500 for the Honda, you are getting a lot of car, so if it's space and practicality you’re looking for in a compact to midsize SUV, the Honda ticks that box.
At this point in the article, we figured we needed to balance things out and talk about at least one thing that we didn’t fancy about the HR-V. Well, that award goes to the engine/gearbox combination. Powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the Honda is naturally aspirated, thus making it noticeably lacking in the “get up and go” acceleration we’ve become accustomed to in most new vehicles. The gearbox is a CVT, and when the two are combined under heavy acceleration, it becomes a screaming contest from the 1.5 motor. If you can live with this, the Honda HR-V ticks many other positive boxes.
You can watch our friendly comparison of the Honda HR-V and the Nissan Qashqai on All Things Motoring, DStv channel 189, or www.allthingsmotoring.co.za
Words: Gugu Masuku