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 aped the original in concept and went head to head with contemporaries like the 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 in either 128bhp or 180bhp versions, 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.
What used Honda HR-V hatchback will I get for my budget?
You’ll have to have a bulging wallet to be able to stretch to a used Honda HR-V. The starting price for even one of the earliest 2015 examples is no less than £9000, although this will only get you a fairly high-mileage car. For something with more reasonable miles and a good history, you’re looking at upping the budget to between £10,000 and £12,000, which puts the HR-V above rivals such as the Suzuki Vitara and Citroën C4 Cactus. Expect to spend between £12,000 and £14,000 on 2017 cars, while £15,000 to £17,000 bags you a nice 2017 or 2018 model. Spend between £17,000 and £19,000 on 2019 and 2020 cars, and often upwards of that on 2021 models.
How much does it cost to run a Honda HR-V hatchback?
Both petrol and diesel versions deliver official fuel consumption figures that are roughly on a par with their rivals, so neither model should leave you out of pocket.
HR-Vs registered after 1 April 2017 are taxed under the new flat-rate system that means you’ll pay £155 per year regardless of which model you choose. However, choose a car registered before that date and it’ll cost you £20 a year for the 1.6-litre diesel, £115 a year for the 1.5-litre petrol in S trim or automatic versions, or £135 a year for any other petrol model. Find out more about current road tax costs here.
Honda’s servicing costs aren’t exorbitant, but neither are they the cheapest around. Its dealers don’t offer fixed-price servicing on older models, but on cars less than eight months old or below 8000 miles, Honda offers a pre-paid service plan that cover five years’ servicing for a fixed fee. This is a good-value option and particularly desirable if you happen to find it’s already been specified by a previous owner.
Which used Honda HR-V hatchback should I buy?
Its breathlessness is a pain, but we’d still choose the base 1.5-litre petrol version of the Honda HR-V over the diesel. You’ll have to work it hard when you want to move quickly, but the rest of the time its comparative smoothness makes it preferable, and it’s cheaper to buy. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding one, either, since roughly a third of HR-Vs are equipped with this engine.
If you’re buying on a budget, an S model will do you just fine, but otherwise we’d upgrade to SE, which is not only the most ubiquitous HR-V but also the best value.
Our favourite Honda HR-V 1.5 i-VTEC SE
What alternatives should I consider to a used Honda HR-V hatchback?
If not, the Suzuki Vitara makes a good alternative; it’s cheaper to buy but just as well-equipped, and it's also very spacious inside.
You should also have a look at the Citroën C4 Cactus, which features quirky styling and a smart-looking interior. It isn’t the best thing in the world to drive, but then neither is the HR-V – and the C4 Cactus is at least considerably cheaper to buy.
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