Exceptional Style and Practicality
Ever since the HRV was introduced in the Philippine automotive industry way back in the year 2000, I had the privilege of using and driving the first generation HRV during my Ayala Consultancy work engagement as a specialist for implementing computerized business applications for a poultry and livestock division. This required me to travel to far-flung mountainous off-road sites within the country. It must be recalled that when the odd, boxy-looking HRV was launched in the Philippines, it was simultaneously done with another Honda nameplate, the more rounded CR-V.
Fast-forward to the future, again after almost 2 decades, I was again given a chance to drive the new HR-V on a new role as a motoring journalist.
This latest model, now on its edgier good-looking second-generation body, the Hi-Rider Revolutionary Vehicle was introduced in the market to serve the demands for vehicles with the benefits of a sport utility vehicle, such as cargo room and higher visibility, with the same performance in terms of maneuverability and fuel economy of a smaller car.
The refreshed Honda HR-V has improved its look with an aerodynamic coupe-like look, now has LED headlights with daytime running lights for all its variants. Its revised front fascia shares similar design cues with the Civic and CR-V. Looking tidier and more refined, this HR-V 1.8 E also has a nice pair of 17-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the HR-V has less piano black trims compared to the HR-V 1.8 RS variant Isaac tested a while back, which is a good thing in most cases as it reduces the smudge-prone surfaces in ther interior. Meanwhile, the rest of it is upholstered in fabric. Its high-deck console gives a resemblance to sporty coupes, which also feature triple air-vents on the passenger side. The instrument cluster may look simple but all pertinent information is well-presented. Also, while the touch-sensitive climate control buttons look nice, it is hard to operate while on the move since it’s hard to tell where you are tapping without looking away from the road.
The HR-V’s might look small, but because it utilizes the Jazz’s platform, the HR-V’s interior is a showcase of Honda’s excellent interior packaging. The high center console, for instance, has a hidden storage that can be accessed from the site. It’s difficult to get into, but it’s ingenious nonetheless. It also has a generous 431 liters of cargo space with the rear seat upright but when folded its cargo space expands up to as much as 1,665 liters. You have Honda’s Magic Seats to thank for. These seats let the seat cushions to be folded upward for a tall load floor directly behind the front seats. When you fold the backseats down, it will have a flat cargo area long enough for an average Filipino to sleep in. The Magic Seats also provide rear passengers to have good rear-seat space despite its swoopy and sloping roofline.
Drivers will notice the HR-V’s new 7-inch Kenwood touch screen infotainment system, which is very fiddly to use. Thankfully, it is equipped with Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. Unfortunately, because Honda went aftermarket for the HR-V’s infotainment, the microphone for the infotainment system is merely mounted near the dome lights and it sticks out horribly like a sore thumb
In terms of safety features, the HR-V is decently equipped with driver and passenger airbags, electronic stability control, hill start assist, and emergency stop signal. There’s also a multi-angle rearview camera and power-folding mirrors for further driver convenience.
Equipped with an inline-4 1.8-liter i-VTEC petrol engine that works well with the Earth Dreams continuously variable transmission (CVT). It has 142 horsepower and 172 Nm of torque that works well enough around the city. The CVT delivers the power quite well without the peaky rubber band effect that CVTs have become notorious for. It has stepped ratios simulating a 7-speed automatic and can be operated “manually” through the steering-mounted paddle shifters.
We were able to test its handling limits when we participated in the AAP’s MotorSport Development Program, where we used the HR-V for some rounds of slalom and braking exercises. We noticed that this new HR-V has improved handling when we took it to the simple slalom routines. It has manageable body roll and the chassis felt neutral. There’s a little bit of understeer but that’s expected at a vehicle like this. Steering response is quick though there is not a lot of feedback that lets you tell what’s really happening to the front wheels.
Granted, a Mazda CX-3 is more fun, but the HR-V makes up for its excellent stability, ride, and refinement, especially on the highway. Road and wind noise has been improved, which makes it a quieter car than its predecessor. Also, while the engine is not exactly what one would call exhilarating, performance is adequate for the most part. The CVT seems to overcompensate when it comes to overtaking, droning the cabin with engine noise, but the engine itself does not feel lethargic even through steep climbs. It’s quite a sipper to, as we managed 10.3 km/l through a week’s worth of use.
So where does the Honda HR-V fit in? For one, the Honda BR-V is also a (more affordable) subcompact crossover, albeit one that’s literally just a lifted Mobilio and caters to a more utilitarian and budget-conscious buyer. The CR-V, on the other hand, also has seven seats and it can be had with a very frugal diesel engine. It also starts at P1,698,000 for the V diesel and P1,668,000 for the five-seater petrol-powered variant. Clearly, the HR-V sits right in the middle of Honda’s SUV range, and that’s where it can get tricky. With only five seats, albeit in a more stylish body, the HR-V caters to a more youthful, lifestyle-oriented buyer. It offers better style and driving dynamics compared to the BR-V, whilst being in a friendlier, smaller package than the CR-V.
On the other hand, this “base model” HR-V 1.8 E also offers a better value proposition than the top trim RS. P200,000 separates the two variants, and yet, this 1.8 E variant has almost all of the same features that the RS has, save for a few aesthetic tweaks
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.3 out of 5