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Review: Honda HR-V

CAR OF THE WEEK: Honda HR-V, which ranges from £19,000-£26,820 (image credit: Honda)

THE SMALL Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) sector is the fastest growing in Europe, with no mainstream manufacturer’s range complete without at least one.

To that end, Honda offers the new HR-V.

Based on the practical Jazz hatchback, it’s available with a choice of a 1.6-litre diesel engine with a manual gearbox, or a 1.5-litre petrol with a manual or CVT automatic.

However, like the original HR-V, it concentrates on giving buyers the style and elevated driving position of a 4x4 rather than real mud-plugging ability. In fact, four-wheel drive isn’t available on this car, even as an option.

The original Honda HR-V, launched in 1999, was somewhat ahead of its time, being rather similar to today’s crossovers, with distinctive looks and reasonable running costs. However, buyers were more conservative back then and it failed to sell in large numbers.

Four trim levels are offered, called S, SE, SE Navi and EX.

On the open road, the HR-V is comfortable, but this also means there’s some body lean in corners, so while it isn’t quite as sharp as some rivals, it’s a world away from traditional 4x4s and can be quite enjoyable to drive.

To be fair the HR-V did not excite me during a week’s evaluation. The Honda HR-V is more of a cruiser than a sporty SUV.

Its suspension has been designed to absorb bumps rather than carve through corners, something that passengers will feel if you get too aggressive with your steering inputs.

The steering is light and precise, but feels overly assisted and doesn’t provide much in the way of driving feel.

In short, the ride left me underwhelmed.

Where it did score was in terms of space and practicality. Even in the back seat, there’s plenty of headroom for tall adults, while Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’ allow the rear squabs to flip up like a cinema seat, allowing tall objects to be carried in the footwells.

The large boot is a usefully square shape with a big tailgate providing easy access.

Interior quality is good, with sturdy materials, and there’s plenty of adjustment in the steering column and seat.

Safety is another tick in the box for this Japanese offering. All HR-V models feature the usual safety kit, including plenty of airbags and electronic stability control, as well as Honda’s City Brake system, which applies the brakes at low speeds to avoid rear-ending the car in front. Go for an SE or EX model and the safety technology list grows significantly: forward collision warning, traffic sign recognition, an ‘intelligent speed limiter’, lane-departure warning and auto-dipping headlights are all fitted. The systems aren’t particularly intrusive and are easy to deactivate if you want.

While it didn’t take me to any particular heights, the HR-V will appeal to many. The thing for me is that so many other manufacturers do SUVs a whole lot better and cheaper in certain cases.

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