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2022 Honda HR-V: What we know so far about the new small SUV and Kia Seltos, Mitsubishi ASX, Hyundai Kona, Toyota C-HR rival

The third-gen Honda HR-V is expected to continue the 'sporty coupe SUV' themes said to have been inspired by the 1990s Prelude.

Honda is busy putting the finishing touches on an all-new, completely redesigned HR-V small SUV due to break cover internationally sometime next year, with Australian sales set to follow soon after or in early 2022, just in time to take on the highly anticipated Toyota Corolla Cross.

As these spy images taken in Tokyo last month and published on Twitter by users Date_aHikarin and Chikuwa_Chan_ reveal, the next HR-V’s design doesn’t differ too dramatically at first glance. However, deeper changes are going on underneath, as Honda aims to broaden its small SUV’s appeal for both driving enthusiasts and eco-minded motorists alike.

Let’s start with the styling. Clearly evolutionary, it is nonetheless scaled-up and somewhat more angular than before, probably to liberate a little more room inside. Some reports suggest this is also to make space for the pint-sized BR-V city SUV that’s only offered in India, Asia and Africa... for now.

Still, the current HR-V’s graceful silhouette continues on in the newcomer, with comparatively steeply raked front and rear windscreens again providing a sleeker silhouette than in boxier rivals. The upswept side-window profile and concealed rear door handles are also visible, further underlining the coupe-SUV look that Honda’s designers have attempted to convey. The bluffer nosecone is reminiscent of the latest Accord sedan's.

As is Honda’s way of late, thinner pillars and deeper glass areas are expected to reduce blind spots, the headlights seem slimmer, the grille larger and tail-lights sleeker, while a concerted move away from the fussy styling trends of some recent models is also evident in the spy photos.

Moving underneath the bonnet of the 2022 HR-V, there may finally be some fresh engine choices for Australia next time around, including a petrol-electric hybrid option to take on the Toyota C-HR Hybrid, as well as possible turbo alternatives in higher grades, as per the popular Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona.

While all locally bound HR-Vs have been powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, a 1.5-litre turbo and 1.5-litre hybrid – some with on-demand all-wheel drive in lieu of the regular front-wheel-drive layout – have been offered elsewhere for some time.

Honda Australia recently stated that all major model changes from here-on in will feature a hybrid option, so count that as a given for the 2022 HR-V. Whether it also brings in the rumoured turbo-petrol units in 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.5-litre four-cylinder configurations remains to be seen.

The current HR-V’s graceful silhouette continues on in the newcomer. (image credit: Date aHikarin) The current HR-V’s graceful silhouette continues on in the newcomer. (image credit: Date aHikarin)

Don’t discount the 1.8’s return, however, since the discontinuation of the Jazz city car next year due to high pricing means the HR-V will most likely assume the mantle of Honda’s entry-level proposition – at least until a decision is made on the BR-V, but that’s another story.

Speaking of the Jazz, the fourth-generation version released in Japan earlier this year is expected to donate its ‘Earth Dreams’ scalable architecture philosophy, which actually first saw the light of day in the current Civic small car back in 2016, and has since been adopted by the CR-V mid-size SUV and Accord sedan.

Said to be substantially stronger and stiffer than before, the new platform should provide improved crash-test performance, backed up by a slew of upgraded driver-assist safety like broader-scope autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane change/keep technology. Additionally, the extra rigidity is said to help reduce noise/vibration/harshness pathways and benefit steering, handling and ride qualities.

The Jazz connection should also ensure that the 2022 HR-V continues to offer one of the existing model’s most unique and crowd-pleasing features – exceptionally cabin space and cargo-carrying versatility.

This is due to the ‘Magic Seat’ arrangement that allows for the rear cushion and backrest to fold down deeply into the recess normally reserved for the fuel tank, which is instead sited under the front seat compartment. Without question, the resulting floor-to-ceiling cargo cavity this arrangement allows is thought to be a key drawcard for the series.

Much is resting on the success of the 2022 HR-V, after a stellar run that sees the existing model still sitting pretty amongst the bestselling privately purchased small SUV in Australia, nearly six years after landing here in early 2015.

Honda’s designers are attempting to convey a coupe-SUV look with the HR-V. (image credit: Chikuwa Chan) Honda’s designers are attempting to convey a coupe-SUV look with the HR-V. (image credit: Chikuwa Chan)

The existing series actually first saw the light of day in Japan as the Vezel two years before that. Paired with the Chinese-market XR-V version, it remains one of the world’s most popular small SUVs.

Going even further back, the original HR-V of 1998 is now considered a pioneer of the segment, though the futuristic styling was perhaps too ahead of its time for Australians, and the series was dropped in the early 2000s. That's in stark contrast to the runaway success of the existing model.

With the next-gen HR-V debut not too far away, stay tuned as more information comes to hand.