Honda HR-V long-term test: report 1

Our sub-editor wants a car that takes all the effort and much of the expense out of his extremely long daily commute – can the hybrid Honda HR-V SUV deliver?...

Honda HR-V 2022 long-term hello

The car Honda HR-V 1.5i-MMD Advance Style e-CVT Run by Chris Haining, sub-editor

Why it’s here To find out if a petrol hybrid can be the answer for somebody who covers long distances and wants to keep costs down

Needs to Effortlessly shrug off motorway trips while sipping petrol, be able to handle rough tracks, carry bulky loads 

Mileage 1550 List price £33,835 Target Price £33,096 Price as tested £34,660.00 Test economy 49.5mpg Official economy 67.3mpg Options fitted Premium Sunlight White Pearl two-tone paint (£825)

11 March 2022 – Fuel for thought

New petrol and diesel cars are off the menu from 2030; from that point a diet of electric motoring will be strictly enforced among new car buyers. However, until more people can keep their electric cars charged conveniently, petrol still has a pivotal role to play, and that’s why I have a Honda HR-V on my drive today.

My previous Kia Soul EV proved that my 240-mile daily round trip truly is possible in an electric car, but only if the charging infrastructure at each end of the journey supports it. In my case, commuting two days on the trot wasn’t possible; I have no charger at home and my closest public fast charger is a fair distance away and rather heavily subscribed. How about, thought I, a car that uses electricity, but is able to charge itself as it goes?

Honda HR-V 2022 long-term at the wheel

Yes, while perpetual motion still evades us, the efficiency potential of a petrol hybrid has to be worth investigating. Certainly, if my HR-V returns anything close to the 67.3mpg it officially promises, I’ll be saving handsomely compared with commuting by rail (a yearly season ticket costs £7600), despite galloping petrol prices.

With the prospect of making frequent three-hour trips, comfort, driver assistance and entertainment are on my mind, and as such I went for the top Advance Style trim level. That’s not to say that any HR-V is meanly equipped. For starters, every model promises to share the effort of driving, with adaptive cruise control (including in stop-start traffic), lane-keeping assistance and an intelligent speed limiter that reacts to traffic signs.

Honda HR-V 2022 long-term infotainment

Then there’s a tasty list of comfort and convenience features, including a 9.0in infotainment touchscreen with navigation, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, as well as heated front seats, a rear view camera, LED headlights and keyless entry and start. Advance trim adds a hands-free tailgate and a heated steering wheel, and my range-topping Advance Style car tops that little lot off with wireless phone charging and a premium audio system – because what's a journey without a great soundtrack? 

I think it looks terrific, too, with its two tone roof and subtle coloured accents, and I reckon the shine of my car’s Sunlight White paint (£825) shows its distinctive form off to good advantage. I especially like the detail in the smoked rear lights you get with Advance Style trim.

Honda HR-V 2022 long-term rear lights detail

But it’s what lies beneath the bonnet that the HR-V is really all about; a 1.5-litre petrol engine and a pair of electric motors, which form the basis of an e-CVT power system that’s far too complicated to describe properly here. In a nutshell, though, the motors can either work as motors or can lock up to provide a direct connection between the engine and the wheels at certain speeds. Ain’t nothing as old-fashioned as a gearbox to be found here.

While it’s the HR-V’s potential economy that attracted my eye, I’m also keen to put its practicality to the test. As a family SUV, it should provide a bit more versatility than most super-frugal small cars; when the weather gets its act together I’m keen to get my inflatable kayak on the water, and not every car can handle that, let alone the paddles and buoyancy aids that go with it. Plus, while I’m under no apprehension that the front-wheel drive HR-V is in any way an off-roader, its tall SUV stance means it shouldn’t ground out if we head out for a walk somewhere off the beaten track. 

Honda HR-V 2022 long-term climate control controls

I must say I’m already impressed by how it’s put together; its interior looks and feels great (especially with my car's fabric and faux-leather upholstery), and I particularly like having proper physical controls for the air conditioning, rather than having to negotiate my way through infotainment menus to change the temperature. In fact, the way the knurled metal temperature dial lights up red or blue when I turn the temperature up or down still has me cooing after the nth operation.

So does the HR-V’s mix of petrol and electricity offer the best of both worlds, or is it neither fish nor fowl? I’m bound to find out soon, being that I spend so much of my life on the road.

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