Honda has always been in a way: different. When the entire automotive world jumped on the turbo train, the Honda had the VTEC. Pre-ignition, now reinvented by Maserati, was introduced by the Japanese in the Honda Civic in the 1980s. When the new NSX was launched in 2016, it was ahead of its time as a hybrid supercar, but it remained an exception. Then there are Honda’s everyday solutions like Magic Seats or the MMD Hybrid.
The HR-V also comes with a full suite of these creative solutions. It’s a bit like a picture of a hidden object: the longer you look at it and deal with it, the more you discover. Also in the history of the model, which was launched in the late 90s, long before the appearance of the term crossover, as a higher variant of Logos compact sedans. Last year, the third generation of the SUV was presented, which is only available with a hybrid engine. A few days ago, Honda unveiled an all-electric version called the E: Ny1. Meanwhile, a new HR-V has been discontinued for the US market — which, although it bears the same name, would have nothing to do with our HR-V theme.
However, for now, the i-MMD hybrid will remain in Europe, this very special solution from Honda, which is already used in the larger CR-H. The powertrain has three modes of operation. First, a pure electric motor. Second, operating as a serial hybrid, in which the combustion engine provides electrical power to the electric machine. And third: driving by a combustion engine that is directly connected to the axle via the clutch. Unlike the traditional hybrid motor, the electric motor not only has a supporting function, but also takes over the full driving force. While the combustion engine can generate 79 kW (107 hp), the electric motor generates 96 kW (131 hp) – at the same time the powertrain’s maximum output. The torque is similar, the combustion engine contributes only 131 Nm here, while the maximum value of 253 Nm is provided by the electric motor.
The interaction of the components is great to watch, and the maps of the different modes of operation seem to be very precisely orchestrated, just like looking at
Power flow indicator detected. Or display consumption, because with a consumption of 5.1 l / 100 km on the standard lap AR, the HR-V is already in a very good range for its class. But this also requires a fascination with thrift. With proactive driving, it can be moved smoothly and smoothly. The combustion engine works, after all, only in the background. Mode B can be used to recover further. Things are different when calling performance. Then the combustion engine has to provide the maximum power to the mains supply to the electric motor, that is, it operates under full load at peak performance – at 6000 rpm. The corresponding background noise can be described as annoying, especially since the driving performance is not quite sporty: the HR-V completes the race from a standing start to 100 km/h in just under ten seconds. It is also a problem when it comes to economy on the highway, where consumption quickly rises to about eight liters per 100 kilometers.
This once again shows that urban and city traffic closely matches the character of a compact SUV. In the lower speed range, the electric motor can drive the torque trump, so acceleration up to 60 km/h is fast. It only becomes more resinous when the torque of the electronic machine’s drive is reduced, but the combustion engine is not yet fully available. On the other hand, the steering is relatively straightforward, and the structure is tightened. This may not fit the nature of driving at first glance, but it guarantees a completely safe driving experience.
Lots of smart space
Like HR-V looks or not, it basically follows the current hot recipe. There is nothing in common between the design of the third generation and the previous model, and Honda proves once again that they have no scruples with difficult breaks in the design and they see no need to transfer design elements from one generation to the next, as one would expect from the use of German brands. Inside there are two traditions, namely: variety and hard plastic. The dashboard and center console are dominated by a mix of black, white, silver, piano lacquer and matte orange plastic in the type of gear we drove. The seats have light and dark textiles, light leather, and orange decorative stitching. Alternatively, white leather can be replaced with black. What remains is the versatility of the material. Other than that, the workmanship elicits no reason to critique, nothing screams in the spacious interior of the Honda HR-V.
And when we say generous, we really mean: generous. This is most noticeable in the rear. Legroom is so great that even with the driver’s seat or front passenger comfortably pushed back, there’s more than enough knee room in the rear seats, so an average-sized adult can sit comfortably there. It’s only a little cramped for three people, although this is mainly due to the limited interior width. There is no annoying cardan tunnel, although the car is also available as an all-wheel drive option. Or there may be, because it is intended for the Japanese market and will not come to Europe. There are also plenty of larger and smaller storage spaces, storage compartments, and drink holders.
pent-up demand for technology
As with many Honda models, the HR-V also has the Magic Seats in the rear. The fact that this ingenious feature simply exists without it being advertised shows much of the underestimation of the small Hamamatsu brand. The rear seat can not only be folded in parts (40:60), but the seats can also be folded up in the same proportion. With the fuel tank located under the front seats, there’s plenty of room in the back for luggage, moving boxes or furniture packages, which can be easily loaded and unloaded through the wide-opening doors. The hybrid battery is installed between the rear axle and the trunk, so that the loading floor is relatively high. However, under it there is a smaller compartment, so that there is maximum efficiency in the use of space.
Also in keeping with the brand’s tradition is the Android-based infotainment system, which always seems to come from the decade before. Graphics are outdated, Android Auto and Apple Carplay (by cable) integrated, but performed poorly in testing
True, voice control is limited to a few commands. This is a huge contrast to the best dachshunds, whose operating concepts are easy to use, but also offer every option imaginable. The same applies to assistance systems. Distance stability control and lane assist operate reliably, and the collision warning is sometimes very sensitive.
The base price of at least 33,900 francs is higher than that of most competitors. However, there is also very good basic equipment, including LED headlights and heated seats.
The test result
Overall score 73.5 / 100
Its economy, especially in urban traffic, is the great strength of the Honda HR-V’s hybrid powertrain. Lacks sovereignty over the highway.
A successful compromise is the chassis, it is not too sporty, but also not too soft.
There’s plenty of room inside the HR-V: space utilization is perfect, not least thanks to the foldable rear seat. But there’s also plenty of room in the front and rear seats.
Various assistance systems and a well-organized operation (with real buttons) ensure safety.
With a base price of 33,900 francs, the Honda HR-V is no bargain. Given the rich equipment, there is nothing to complain about in terms of price.
Honda HR-V shows a certain autonomy – in driving, in design, in magic seats. This results in a well-coordinated comprehensive package that is undoubtedly convincing in its intended field of application.
Our technical data and measured values for this model can be found in the print version and in the electronic sheet of AUTOMOBIL REVUE.