What's the used Honda HR-V hatchback like?
Once upon a time, there was a car called the Honda HR-V. An unusual-looking thing, it took the concept of a high-riding off-roader but placed its ethos very much on the road, foregoing the usual rugged chassis for something altogether softer and more Tarmac-friendly.
That original HR-V went out of production in 2005 but, in 2015, Honda resurrected the name for a small SUV that apes the original in concept and goes head to head with the eternally popular Nissan Juke, Citroën C4 Cactus and Toyota C-HR.
The engine range is rather limited; there’s just one turbocharged 1.6-litre diesel unit and a naturally aspirated 1.5 petrol, with an automatic gearbox optional on the latter. The HR-V is well equipped, though; even entry-level S trim gets tasty toys such as climate control and automatic lights. The trim levels extend upwards through SE and SE Navi, topping out with the luxurious EX.
All sounds good so far. But, sadly, there’s some bad news on the horizon, because the HR-V isn’t the greatest thing in the world once you get it out on the road. The first problem you notice is the engine. In petrol versions, it grows coarse when you’re accelerating; in diesel models, it is intrusive all the time – you find yourself turning the radio up to mask it.
Once you’re up and running, the firm ride becomes apparent. Larger bumps are OK, if a little wooden, but potholes and drain covers send a deeply unpleasant thump through the car and set your head a-jostling.
The payoff is that the HR-V feels rather sporty on a back road, with its controlled body lean, progressive steering and – in manual versions – a short, positive gearchange. The diesel engine also offers a useful glob of torque right where you need it, helping to right some of the HR-V’s wrongs.
As does the interior, which feels robustly built from decent-quality materials. The gloss-black heater panel looks classier than most, too. It’s just a shame that the touchscreen entertainment system is so abominably slow and fiddly to use, because it rather lets the side down.
You’ll find plenty of space up front for two people and there are some neat cubby areas for storing your odds and ends. The boot’s massive, too, and while the rear seats are more cramped, they do at least fold down or – with Honda’s clever Magic Seats – up, like cinema seats, to allow you to carry tall items in the space they vacate.