The Honda HR-V divided opinions
Car Reviewed: Honda HR-V Advance Style e:HEV
“That’s so elegant!” said one friend, seeing the car for the first time. “God, that’s ugly!” said another. “That colour is like diarrhoea,” said my wife of the pale khaki colour of the body of our test car. “That colour is so cool,” said one of our daughters.
If you take the lead from other people, of course, you will never know what to think for yourself. That standard rule for life applies acutely to the new HR-V. Your own is, of course, the only opinion that counts.
Mine – for what it is worth – is that Honda have achieved something genuinely unusual, interesting and worthwhile with the new HR-V. It wouldn’t be my One and Only choice of cars to buy and keep for myself, but I shall certainly recommend it to people whom it might suit – especially families with growing kids. I can undoubtedly say, throughout the three generations of this sub-compact SUV since 1999. I have never been much impressed with an HR-V until now.
The interior knocked me out. As with their sensational Honda e, Honda proves again with the HR-V that a Far East manufacturer doesn’t necessarily have to produce an interior that looks like a hymn of praise to cheap black plastic. For instance, the upholstery in our car could be seen as a witty reprise of themes by Terence Conran from the 1970s. The cream leather of the main panels was complemented with subtle red stitching and contrasting panels in the middle of the seat that were partly herringbone grey and partly checkered black and white stripes. That might make it sound frenzied, but the overall effect is dead cool – which is also true of the orangey metallic surround for the gear shift. It sounds ghastly; works a treat.
I also loved the space for passengers in the back and the compartmentalised, hard plastic floor of the boot, which can be hauled out and hosed clean. Away with those silly carpets that get so grubby and manky! This is the way every boot should be floored.
The hybrid power train on the HR-V is not so easy to love. A 107 bhp 1.5 petrol engine is mated with a 96 bhp electric motor and CVT transmission. This set-up produces a respectable 51 mpg average fuel consumption, but it makes a lot of pointless fuss in the process. Flooring the accelerator pedal produces a racket like an industrial sewing machine at full chat. The gearshift paddles on the steering wheel are laughably irrelevant.
The range of guesses on the price of the HR-V was as wide as the opinions about its looks. One guy I know who likes to think he knows a thing or two about cars reckoned, at first sight, that it would cost at least £50,000 to buy. He was dumbfounded when I told him that the full range of prices – depending on spec – is £28835-£33835. That top figure was the all-in price of our test car, which was in the spec they call Advance Style.
Stonking bargain, in my view. Which is, of course, the only one that counts in this space.
Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK’s national stage for 40 years, writing for every “quality” newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 – the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.