Honda HR-V long-term test
Our sub-editor wanted a car that takes all the effort and much of the expense out of his extremely long daily commute – did he find it in the hybrid Honda HR-V SUV?...
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 13,240 List price £34,850 Target Price £33,581 Price as tested £34,660 Test economy 54.5mpg Official economy 67.3mpg Running costs (excluding depreciation) Fuel £1,695 Trade-in value now £27,325 Dealer price now £30,846 Private price now £27,419
31 August 2022 – In tune with the times
When I press the start button in my Honda HR-V, the musical jingle that greets me sounds like the first few bars of Vivaldi’s Spring. And, should I move it around my drive without engaging my seatbelt, the reminder bells are dead ringers for the first two notes of Nilsson's Without You. Such sonic tendencies are well suited to a car that’s so in tune with the times; indeed, things don’t get much trendier than a hybrid powered SUV.
And, as I part with my HR-V, which I have inevitably christened Harvey, despite its flaws, I reckon I’ll miss this distinctive machine. I’m certainly going to lament its economy. Looking at my fuel receipts over the last six months, the best I saw from a tank was 58.2 mpg, and I could bank on beating 54mpg. Considering that most of the miles I racked up were on motorways and dual carriageways, that’s really impressive stuff.
That economy came courtesy of the HR-V’s clever hybrid power system, whose main shortcoming is that demanding full power has it bellowing like a bear poked with a stick. With this in mind, I tended not to poke it unless I really had to; going easy on it was good for economy and my eardrums alike. In fact, I only found the need to invoke the bear’s full wrath when joining motorways. In town or when making laid-back trips along country roads, it could stay subdued without feeling overly sluggish.
It’s a shame, really, that the HR-V spent so little time cooped up in town, because it suits urban environments very well. The electric side of its hybrid set-up provides prompt acceleration up to jogging pace, and you can cover a reasonable distance at a battery-powered canter before the petrol engine needs to take up the slack. Great news for economy.
Mind you, Harvey was convincingly at home in the countryside, too. Some of the more challenging lanes in my neck of the woods, with the sort of bumps that would tear the sump out of a regular hatchback, were a cakewalk for the high-riding HR-V. Yes, it only has front-wheel drive, so I had no ambitions of tackling really tough scenery, but I felt that I could go close enough to look at it.
Actually, subjecting it so many motorway miles was probably cruelty on my part, and I’m not surprised the HR-V punished me by serving up an unsettled ride. Bizarrely, it handles dips and crests very nicely, and the ride was never truly harsh over bumps; potholes and expansion joints didn’t have me wincing like I did in a Seat Ibiza FR that I ran a few cars ago. However, no matter what the road surface, the HR-V rarely stopped swaying from side to side. My head was kept bobbing from left to right in an involuntary dance.
Now, as it happens, most of my dancing is involuntary anyway, but the HR-V’s excellent stereo certainly had my redundant left foot tapping and my hand drumming the steering wheel. The rest of the infotainment system is pretty good, too; it never crashed or glitched during my time with it, and its menus are much easier to navigate than those systems in older Hondas I’ve driven. As ever, though, having to prod icons on a touchscreen when the car is in motion is far from intuitive – classic buttons and dials would be better.
For all my praises, though, the HR-V’s three-star road test rating is very fair at the end of the day. On top of the ride issues and engine noise, the fact is that rival family SUVs such as the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan are more spacious and practical (I'm a big fan of the HR-V’s clever and very useful Magic Seats, which enable tall items to be carried in place of one of the rear passengers, but the boot itself isn’t shaped to take big, bulky items). Plus, its much-vaunted Honda Sensing driver assistance system turned out to be more annoying than it was useful, with its over-zealous warnings and reliance on clear road markings – it gets very confused when they're not there.
That latter point is inexcusable, and it really hurts what is a very likeable and extremely economical package. It's one that won’t leave a massive hole in your pocket come trade-in time, either, having held onto an impressive chunk of its purchase price. The Honda HR-V, then; it's a catchy little number, but not one that everybody will find music to their ears.
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