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Honda HR-V VTi 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the Honda HR-V VTi with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

When we told people we were driving a Honda HR-V the almost universal response was, "Er, yuk." When we reminded them that it wasn't the tragically un-hip three-door bread van thing of years back, but was instead a well-sorted, better-looking mini-SUV, the response changed. Suddenly there was interest.

Has Honda got a car other than the CR-V the world will want to own?

Value

The HR-V range stretches from the $24,990 VTi, via the $27,990 VTi-S through to the $32,990 VTi-L. Our test car, the VTi, came equipped with climate control, fabric trim, plastic steering wheel, seven-inch touchscreen six-speaker stereo with USB and Bluetooth, reversing camera, keyless entry, hill holder, power windows all round, power mirrors and tyre pressure sensors.

Design

The HR-V is much improved from the ungainly first generation last sold here nearly fifteen years ago. It looks like a cross between the new Honda Civic and CR-V, which means upright styling and a few extravagant surfacing details that may not quite work for some eyes. 

The CR-V-alike daylight opening in profile looks okay, but instead of a window in the third space, there's a too-high-for kids door handle.

The sixteen-inch alloys on the base model look right, holding a bit of faux off-road cred.

The inside of the HR-V is by far the best of the crop of new, titchy SUVs

There's a whole world inside, though. The inside of the HR-V is by far the best of the crop of new, titchy SUVs. The three-dial dash is a clean design and the most is made of the tall console, with a split level arrangement giving an extra bin to hide the USB, HDMI and power ports.

There's storage everywhere, especially in the front, with bottle holders, drink holders and handy little spots wherever you look.

Add to that the excellent Honda Magic Seat system - pinched from the Jazz - you have an already excellent 437 litres that can expand to 1032. There are eighteen different configurations to choose from and it struck us that on a camping trip, smaller kids could happily bed down in the loadspace with the seats down or flipped.

Sadly, when you do flip the seats you see some decidedly unfinished trim, including partly uncovered wood planks used to bridge the carpet gap. There's also a deeply nasty excuse for a cargo cover that flaps around when in place to make a very irritating rattle - there's a little way to go to reach the quality levels of the Honda of old.

Before you even touch the seats, there's a massive amount of legroom for rear passengers with matching headroom - six-footers will be comfortable back there, something that cannot be said for Holden Trax, Renault Captur or Mazda CX-3. Alone in this category, the rear door aperture doesn't act like a nightclub bouncer.

The cloth interior is perfectly functional, with good materials throughout except, unfortunately, for the slippery plastic steering wheel. The driver's lot is made slightly worse by a poor relationship between pedals and wheel, meaning a long-arm, short-leg approach to driving which can be a little tiresome for those of average longitudinal proportions.

Safety

Six airbags, ABS, traction and stability controls with passive steer assist and lap-sash belts in all seats.

There is no ANCAP or EuroNCAP crash rating.

Features

The 7-inch screen houses a very basic system. It is effective and easy to use but is really old-looking, something Japanese companies seem to have difficulty getting their heads around. On the base model there's not much to play with, which means you're never more than two stabs of the screen from anything.

Pairing phones is easy and you can attach them via USB if you like and if you've got something extra-special, you can watch a video via the HDMI port, another Japanese quirk.

Engine / Transmission

The Honda HR-V range all come with the same package - 1.8-litre naturally-aspirated VTEC engine with a continuously variable transmission to get the power to the road via the front wheels.

The engine produces what is rapidly becoming a modest figure of 105kW and a reasonable 172Nm, both at higher revs than most of its turbo-assisted competitors manage. Honda claims a nevertheless competitive 6.6L/100km on the combined cycle. Honda doesn't quote a 0-100km/h time but it'd be a miracle if it was quicker than nine seconds.

We used a creditable 8.0L/100km once we gave up on enthusiastic driving, with city driving dropping as low as 7.0L/100km.

Driving

Tooling around town, the HR-V is an excellent machine - quiet, reasonably refined and comfortable. There's a good view forward and it's an easy car to place in tight spots, with all the controls spot-on - steering, brakes and throttle. "Green" driving is encouraged by the lighting around the speedo. Drive sensibly and it goes green.

The CVT makes the most of the modest figures

The 1.8-litre might be ready to discuss its superannuation rollover options but the CVT makes the most of the modest figures. It's just a pity the engine needs so many revs to get a move on, something you'll notice as the payload increases. As CVTs go it's not bad, but it's set-up to pointlessly mimic a seven-speed.

You'll find it a very agreeable companion, especially if you prefer a softer-riding machine.

It's also not the best-handling of the mini-SUV contenders. The springs and dampers aren't quite matched as well as they could be to Australian roads and with the skinny, cheap tyres, understeer is a constant companion if you fancy a bit of a hustle. Keep it sensible, though, and you'll find it a very agreeable companion, especially if you prefer a softer-riding machine.

Verdict

The original HR-V was a decade too soon but the new one is pretty much the last off the blocks before the premium brands move on the segment. The extra cooking time has done it the world of good, however, making it a solid overall proposition. The interior, however, is streets ahead for space, practicality and when compared with Trax and Captur, finish.

When you take everything into consideration and focus on what this car is for, it hits the lead in what is sure to be a hard-fought battle for mini-SUV supremacy.

Pricing Guides

$20,990
Based on 192 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$16,490
Highest Price
$27,488

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
VTi 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $16,490 – 23,990 2015 Honda HR-V 2015 VTi Pricing and Specs
VTi-L 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $17,500 – 27,488 2015 Honda HR-V 2015 VTi-L Pricing and Specs
VTi-L (Adas) 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $17,930 – 22,660 2015 Honda HR-V 2015 VTi-L (Adas) Pricing and Specs
VTi-S 1.8L, ULP, CVT AUTO $18,400 – 21,999 2015 Honda HR-V 2015 VTi-S Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$16,490

Lowest price, based on 38 car listings in the last 6 months

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