Honda is a company that has enjoyed mixed success in the local context. There was a time when the Japanese automaker sold over 1 000 units per month locally. But those heydays are long gone and the brand has been in somewhat of a rebuilding phase. The all-new Honda HR-V may just be one of those cars that helps the automaker to bolster its sales tally in the local market.
All-new Honda HR-V
This latest introduction to the SA market slots in between the small WR-V and large CR-V, a complete replacement for the outgoing model of the same name. It may be similar in name but this new car is all-new and changed in several key areas.
The all-new Honda HR-V has a fresh and modern appearance that is led by a large central air intake and slim headlamps. In top-spec Executive derivatives, the grille is body coloured, which gives it a concept-car-like appearance. We are pretty sure some people will mistake for a Porsche SUV when that rear light is lit-up at night.
There are just two trim levels on offer: Comfort and Executive. The latter has the aforementioned grille as well as larger, 18-inch alloys (versus 17s) to tell the two versions apart from the outside. The new HR-V may have grown in most grown in most directions, but its roofline is lower than before. The silhouette is, in keeping with current trends, quite coupe-like in its execution.
Honda engineers have spent a lot of time working on the interior design, particularly as it pertains to clear sight lines. As a result the facia is set low, and even the touchscreen infotainment screen is set below the driver’s eye-line. Furthermore, the side-view mirrors have also been lowered a tad to ensure clear visibility from the captain’s chair.
Honda has also taken the opportunity to separate the ventilation controls (thank goodness) from the infotainment system. A set of rotary dials, that are easy to locate without looking, are placed above the gear lever.
Another obvious differentiation between the two trim levels is the upholstery. Comfort versions have cloth seat coverings while Executive variants have leather. Look closer and you will also see a wireless mobile phone charger in the higher spec car. Speaking of the seats…
The all-new Honda HR-V has fold up and fold down rear seats. This is similar to the arrangement found in the smaller Fit. It is made possible by a fuel tank that is situated under the front seats, rather than under the rears, as with most other cars.
That aforementioned sloping roofline doesn’t seem to impede rear passenger room. At the launch event we saw a few fellow journos hop onto the rear bench and not look cramped. There also seems to be plenty of legroom, the longer dimensions have added 35 mm of space for rear occupants.
Incidentally, the Executive variant also boasts a panoramic glass roof that allows natural light to fill the cabin. The glass panel features new “Low-E” glass technology that severely reduces infrared, ultraviolet and solar heat rays entering the cabin.
Honda SA in offering the new HR-V with just a single powertrain option.The engine is a 1,5-litre naturally aspirated unit. It produces 89 kW of power 145 N.m of torque. The latter is made at a rather high 4 300 r/min. The petrol motor is mated with continuously variable transmission (CVT). A hybrid version of the HR-V will be added to the range, but the date has not yet been confirmed. If anything it’ll probably be around the early part of 2024.
Click here to read our review of the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The national ride and drive event for the all-new Honda HR-V was held in the winelands area of the Western Cape. We got behind the wheel of the Executive variant for a stint to experience the model first-hand. Our initial impressions are favourable. It seems Honda’s engineers have spent a great deal of time suppressing NVH, which makes the cabin a comfortable place.
There is also good pliancy to the suspension tuning, and this was with the 18-inch alloys. The 17-inch items on the Comfort, which are more pleasing to our eyes, must be even more cushy through one’s tushy.
For some reason, unknown to us, Honda persists with naturally aspirated engines. There is nothing wrong with this option, but it isn’t ideal when paired with a CVT. Mashing the throttle to make a fast overtake and there just doesn’t feel like enough punch, the likes of which a turbocharged engine can deliver. Having said that, the journey returned a fuel figure of 6,8L/100 km, which is pretty close to the claim of 6,0.
At the very start of this piece we said that the HR-V could well be the car to help lift Honda SA’s fortunes. We still think that is the case. The popularity of small SUVs is not going to wane anytime soon. With that in mind, it is vitally important for an automaker to have fresh new offering in the segment. The HR-V delivers on several fronts, it’s new, looks fresh and has all the modern tech one needs. It is definitely worth driving before you make a buying decision.
Honda HR-V Comfort R469 000
Honda HR-V Executive R554 500
Prices include a five-year/200 000 km warranty, and a four-year/60 000 km service plan. In addition there is a three-year roadside assistance plan.