FIRST DRIVE | New 2022 Honda HR-V oozes style and refinement
Texture and ambience are now everything to Honda. This was stressed by the local subsidiary at the launch of the new HR-V. It’s a curious shape that’s tricky to pigeonhole and difficult to plug into the SUV categories at first glance.
It’s not polarising, just akin to the love-child of a Haval H6 and the Mazda MX-30, but either way, it’s handsome and the most un-Honda like styling I’ve seen and which also springs out best in Opal white than any of the available colours.
Honda says it designed the car not with the usual profiling of the target market, but instead crafted it to align with people’s sensory organs of touch, sight and the pursuit of a feel-good aura in the cabin, an ageless preference.
On this front the HR-V is launched in two specifications, Comfort and Executive.Both have a 35mm increase in leg and shoulder room and an additional two-degree recline on the adjustable rear seats. The cabin is constructed in a mixture of soft and hard materials which don’t “thud” cheaply compared with the previous generation.
Honda is well versed in family practicality. The HR-V is intended to bring the brand’s fold-flat or flip-up Magic Seat concept to a car with a curved roof and which, according to diagrams, the shape doesn’t compromise much. The rear seats can be configured for different loads, including taller objects, and though the boot looks and feels shallower than conventional crossovers, it’s said it can fit an adult-size bicycle.
Perched behind the multifunction steering wheel the posture is great. Features include a new 8-inch high resolution touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a four speaker sound system on the Comfort model and eight speakers on the Executive.
There’s also a new Air Diffusion System that can alter the conditioner air flow directly or away from passengers, a hands-free power tailgate, a large centre cubby, four USB charging sockets, while the Executive model gains a panoramic glass roof.
The new HR-V is powered by a 1.5l petrol engine with outputs of 89kW and 145Nm. It’s mated exclusively with a CVT gearbox that doesn’t dull the engine’s performance, but keeps it humming nicely when cruising or sprightly when sprinting.
Honda says fuel consumption is a welcome 6l/100km and it’s quite believable. We managed 6.4l/100km when driving with a cool head, but once we got cracking it munched on 9.9l/100km.
Where the HR-V also impresses is at a cruise. There are no adjustable dampers and the standard set-up is more for wafty comfort. It’s also poised for faster action on twisting roads, but you’ll find it’s more attractive to drive with a civil mind. It’s that kind of crossover and you’ll also find that the roar from the outside is lessened through calculated positioning of protuberances, such as wing mirrors and largely flat surfaces.
This also mixes well with the CVT which creates constant and linear power delivery with none of the jerkiness of conventional automatics, especially when you need overtaking acceleration, for a luxurious drive experience.
Safety systems include auto high beam, agile handling assist, vehicle stability assist, ABS with brake assist, vehicle stability assist, hill start assist and automatic brake hold. Hill descent control is also available as is a mitigation braking system that detects pedestrians in poor light conditions. It alerts the driver and applies the brakes when the HR-V cuts across or turns into the path of an oncoming vehicle, thanks to the new front wide-view camera.
The camera also enhances adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist system and road departure mitigation which alerts the driver if it detects that the vehicle is approaching the outer edge of the road, an oncoming vehicle or drifting into another lane without indicating.
The new HR-V may not lead the charge in the coupe crossover class, but it’s a fine thing built with the fundamentals of the brand’s followers, which they will like even more now thanks to refinements and the new styling.
Honda HR-V Comfort: R469,000
Honda HR-V Executive: R554,500
All models come standard with a five-year/200,000km warranty and a four-year/60,000km service plan.
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.