Honda HR-V VS Suzuki Jimny
- RS model added
- Low-speed AEB standard
- Practicality unchanged
- Halogen headlights on base car
- No AWD model
- Full safety pack still only on top-spec
- Relatively thirsty
The changes aren't dramatic for the Honda HR-V 2019 model. In fact, you could look at it and not even know this is an updated, facelifted model.
But there are a few nips and tucks here and there that freshen up the appeal of the Japanese brand's small SUV, which first went on sale in Australia back in 2015.
It still has practicality on its side, and the value equation remains reasonably strong, especially on lower-grade models. And now, with some additional range-wide safety gear and a sporty looking RS model, there's arguably more to like than ever before.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
One thing is clear: The Suzuki Jimny does not need this media coverage.
No. The quaint little off-roader is somehow so entrenched in the Australian mindset that for the first year of this fourth-gen model's existence, there has been a waiting list to get one consistently between six and 12 months long.
In fact, reading this review will probably be of little use to you, given every new Jimny from now until some time in 2021 is spoken for despite a 30 per cent increase in production and prices inching up by roughly $2000.
We already know this quirky alternative SUV is as good as it looks off-road, so the question we’re out to answer in this review is: Is the Jimny nostalgic to a fault? That is, is it even remotely practical as a daily driver in an urban centre? Read on to see if we found an answer…
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
There are some positive changes to the updated 2019 Honda HR-V. The city AEB system on all models is a welcome addition, and personally, I'm absolutely sold on the look of the RS model, plus the additional effort that has been put in by Honda for this version makes it the most appealing example.
All in all, the Honda HR-V remains a favourite in the small SUV segment - admittedly one with limited choices in terms of drivetrains, and without all-wheel drive - but it possesses other strengths that make it pretty darn appealing.
If you love the Jimny and are in the already excessively long line to buy one, you don’t need me to tell you it’s not the smartest, most advanced, and user-friendly choice to drive around town.
If you’re on the fence about it, just know this little box is retro to a fault, and if you’re not planning on going out of bounds once in a while, it really won’t be living its best life.
And while that might sound a bit negative, it has to be said I loved every moment of driving and looking at this car despite its SUV shortcomings.
Can't tell the differences? There are a few, with new grille and headlight and tail-light finishes across the range, plus a new front bumper design. Elsewhere, it's hard to pick this as a facelifted model.
There is no denying the RS grade looks the best of this bunch, with its bigger 18-inch wheels and darkened chrome exterior styling highlights, along with the piano black body kit around the lower edges of the car and body-colour rear spoiler, all combining to create a cohesive and smart looking little SUV. The design of the exterior is really well considered.
That's not to say the other models don't live up to the RS, but it's certainly the standout. The entry-level VTi still looks like an 'affordable' model, with its yellow halogen lights and less appealing wheel choice.
The VTi-S and VTi-LX are harder to separate, but there are some design highlights to split them: the wheels are the same size (17-inch) but the VTi-S ones look a little tamer, and it gets body-colour door handles; the VTi-LX has chrome handles and a more attractive wheel design.
The exterior size of the HR-V hasn't changed, apart from the RS model, which is a little longer and a little wider due to its body kit. The measurements are: 4348mm long (RS: 4360mm) on a 2610mm wheelbase, 1772mm wide (RS: 1790mm) and 1605mm tall. It's hardly hard to get into, with ground clearance of 170mm, but for the concerned parents out there you can option side steps for the rear doors.
As you can see from the interior photos, the changes haven't been huge inside, and there are no differences to the interior dimensions. But the practicality - whether you choose a low-spec version with cloth trim or a flagship model with leather - is just about as good as you can expect in this segment.
This whole car is pretty much built around the way it looks. Is it form over function? That depends.
For off-road capability it would seem form and function are in sync. But around town there’s a bit of give and take. We’ll explore that more in the practicality section of this review.
In terms of its retro look though it’s clear the Jimny is almost universally loved. It’s cute but tough, approachable but utilitarian.
The styling elements of the Jimny are intentionally made up of elements from each preceding generation. The rounded-out LED lights with separate indicators and its flat face are in reference to the original LJ10 which hit the market in 1960, the bonnet design harks back to the second-generation (SJ410) in 1981, while the slotted grille and pumped guards are in reference to the third-generation (aka the Sierra) from 1998.
Inside the rugged aesthetic continues, with grab handles and hose-out plastics adorning the dash. You probably shouldn’t actually take a hose to it though, because the modern screen, climate cluster, and multifunction wheel are lifted straight from the Swift, leaving no question this is a Suzuki product.
The seats are literal blocks of foam, the plastics are hard, and everything is manually adjustable – there isn’t even keyless entry or push-start ignition. Some will hate its lack of luxuries, but more than a few will be willing to forgive its commitment to rugged simplicity.
If I could make one change? Give the Jimny it’s own rugged-looking steering wheel! The modern Swift one looks almost out of place.
The Honda HR-V has cabin size on its side.
If you've never sat in one, you will probably be surprised when you do. There's a lot of room, both in the front and the back, and with the driver's seat set in my position (I'm 182cm tall), I had enough space to sit behind that spot.
There's good rear legroom and reasonable width to the cabin, but headroom could be a little better, particularly in the range-topping model with the big panoramic sunroof.
Being a Honda, the storage game is on point. There are cup holders up front, door pockets with bottle holders in each of the doors, and decent loose item storage, too.
Honda's 'Magic Seats' - fitted to all HR-V models - allow the rear seat area to double as a storage space. As you can see from the images, the base of the back seat can be flipped up, which allows you access to a huge space to store long items. You can fit pushbikes in there. Trust me. Or you can lower the seat bases down, and then drop the rear seat backs for a huge boot.
The boot space on offer in the HR-V is terrific for the class, with 437 litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats in place, with the boot dimensions expanding to 1462L with the back seats folded flat. The ridiculous floppy mesh cargo cover remains, but you can option a hard tonneau cover for the boot if you want, and there's a cargo liner available, too.
There's a space-saver spare tyre under the boot floor.
Only the VTi model misses out on roof rails, so if you want to fit a roof rack you might need to consider that.
Put simply: It’s not practical at all on the inside.
Let’s start with the driver’s area. Immediately annoying is no telescopic adjust for the steering, and minimal manual adjustment for the basic seats. Storage is limited to some very small binnacles in the doors, a tiny slot for your phone, as well as two non-adjustable cupholders and another tiny slot (which I put my wallet in for an idea of how big it is) near the transmission.
In terms of connectivity there is a single USB port, auxiliary input, and a 12V power outlet.
The rear seat is even more basic, consisting of a foam bench and some rudimentary seat backers which can fit two occupants. I was genuinely surprised to find dual ISOFIX child-seat mounting points back there, as well as top-tether anchors. Clambering in is easier than it might look thanks to the huge door aperture and I fit with limited room and comfort behind my own driving position.
Was it adequate? Yes. Would I want to spend much time there? Probably not.
Boot space is non-existent with the rear two seats in their upright position, but they do fold flat for a large, open and useful area when operating as a two-seater. Suzuki says this space is 377 litres, but it seems larger. Check out our pics to get an idea of what it looks like with a large luggage case and some extra equipment bags.
One drawback I found is the hard-wearing plastic surface made it impossible to keep loose objects from being thrown around in the corners. Consider investing in a luggage net, perhaps.
One practicality wonder for urban users will be this car’s tiny dimensions. At 3645mm long (including the spare wheel) and 1645mm wide, the Jimny occupies a footprint much smaller than even Hyundai’s new Venue small SUV.
This means you can park pretty much anywhere, although the 1720mm height makes for some sketchy moments in some multi-story carparks.
Price and features
So, you want to compare Honda HR-V models? You want to know what you get if you buy the top of the range model vs one of the entry grades? You've come to the right place.
Kicking off the price list is the value-focused VTi, which lists at $24,990 (RRP - that's the price before on-road costs, not a driveaway price). The next model up in the range is the VTi-S, listing at $27,990. Then there's the new RS model, at $31,990. How much is a top-spec HR-V? That'll be the VTi-LX, at $34,590.
Now we're done with the price guide, let's run through what each model is fitted with.
The entry-level VTi model is attractively priced, and scores some points on specifications, too.
Standard features include a 7.0-inch touch screen with in-built satellite navigation system (sat nav, GPS - whatever you want to call it) with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and USB connectivity. Sadly, no model comes with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, so you'll just have to sync your iPhone or other smartphone by USB or Bluetooth.
The media screen doubles as a display for the reversing camera. There's cruise control, single-zone climate control air conditioning, and the VTi has projector halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights. You don't even get HID lights on the base spec, which is disappointing.
Step two in HR-V trim levels is the VTi-S, which sees the addition of keyless entry (smart key) and push-button start, auto on/off LED headlights, LED 'optical style' tail-lights, rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, and Honda's 'LaneWatch' side camera system. This version gets roof rails, too, which the base grade misses out on.
The interior of the VTi-S model moves up to chrome and piano black finishes, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather-bound gear-knob, and the passenger's side vanity mirror is illuminated. Plus you get an extra pair of 12-volt plugs (one in the back seat, one in the rear), and a second map pocket in the back (the VTi has only one).
RS models are the sportiest looking versions in the range, and they get a different steering and suspension tune to live up to the look.
Beyond the stylish model-specific 18-inch alloy wheels, the RS gets piano black exterior trim for its body kit, including a lower front spoiler, side skirts, rear spoiler and wheel arches, plus smoked chrome look front and rear elements. This version also has dark chrome front door handles, auto-tilt passenger side mirror, black mirror covers, and additional sound deadening over the lower grades.
The RS also comes with leather seats (well, leather-appointed seats, as Honda puts it) which have been redesigned in this spec and the model above, plus the front seats are heated. It also adds rear tinted windows, auto wipers, alloy sports pedals, and a "smooth sports leather-wrapped steering wheel" with paddleshifters.
At the upper end of this model comparison is the VTi-LX, which builds on the equipment of the models below, with additions such as electric driver's seat adjustment, a panoramic sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, electric folding side mirrors, chrome exterior door handles, auto up/down windows for all doors, LED interior lights, dual-zone climate control, and front parking sensors.
As before, VTi-LX models have the more comprehensive safety suite, including high-speed auto emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (not active lane assist) and auto high-beam lights (but still no blind spot monitor). We'll run through the rest of the safety technology in the safety section below.
However, the VTi-LX drops back to a 17-inch wheel instead of rolling on 18s like the RS, and it doesn't get the sports leather steering wheel.
While the multimedia system covers off most infotainment needs, there's no DVD player or CD player, and no DAB digital radio, either. The sound system is identical between all four models, with six speakers (no subwoofer).
And if you're wondering about things like a power tailgate or heated steering wheel, the HR-V range doesn't quite go that far in terms of luxury.
Accessories-wise, customers have a range of options to choose from - and it goes well beyond floor mats. There are roof racks, black 18-inch alloy wheels or two-tone silver/chrome rims, a hard tonneau cargo area cover, a ow bar and bike attachment, bonnet protector and even a camping tent. Other ones that might appeal include a rear and front metal-look garnish (the latter is hardly a bull bar or nudge bar - if you want one of those, you might need to shop the aftermarket).
How many seats in the Honda HR-V? Five, and they're very practical!
Oh, what about colours (or colors, depending on where you're reading this!)? Well, there are seven on offer: the new hero colour is 'Phoenix Orange', but there are the usual suspects like 'White Orchid', 'Lunar Silver', 'Modern Steel' (grey), 'Ruse Black', 'Brilliant Sporty Blue', and 'Passion Red'.
Every one of those paint options will cost you $575 more, with only 'Taffeta White' non-metallic paint coming at no cost (RS models aren't available in that colour, but the paint cost is factored in to the list price).
Oh, and this time around there is no purple colour, and the green that looks so appealing on the Japanese market 'Honda Vezel' still isn't offered in Australia.
Given the Jimny's unique character, it’s hard to argue with its budget price-point. At an MSRP of $27,990 for the priciest automatic version (as tested here), it’s not even really expensive for its size-bracket. To get something which looks and feels like this, your next port of call is the Jeep Wrangler at a whopping $59,450.
Makes sense the Jimny is flying off the shelves, then.
Standard fitment isn’t too bad. Almost everything from the Swift hatchback is not only included but looks about the same, with familiar gear appearing in the form of a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, as well as built-in navigation.
Other notable features include single-zone climate control, privacy glass, a small function screen nestled in the instrument cluster, a reversing camera, and of course, a low-range transfer case with H4 and L4 modes.
Options are limited to premium paints at $500 which can also be two-tone with a contrast roof for $1250.
There are some active safety features, although the Jimny misses out on a high score. More on that later.
Engine & trans
There are no changes to the engine specs of the drivetrain on offer in the updated HR-V.
The engine size and specifications go unchanged for the 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, remaining at 105kW of power (at 6500rpm) and 172Nm of torque (at 4300rpm). So, it's no horsepower hero - and there's no turbo engine in sight, which is a shame.
The motor is only available with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) - and there is no manual transmission option, as much as we'd like to see a version with a clutch in the RS spec. The CVT has been updated with 'stepped ratios' to "enhance the sporty feel" and provide "more responsive acceleration".
The HR-V sold in Australia remains a 4x2 (front-wheel drive) model only - there are some markets that get an AWD / 4x4 model, but we miss out. Likewise, there's no diesel version, and you can rule out LPG, too.
Does fuel tank size matter to you? The fuel tank capacity of the HR-V is 50 litres. And if you're curious about the kerb weight, the number for the VTi is 1269kg, the VTi-S is 1274kg, the RS is 1294kg and the VTi-LX is 1319kg.
You may want to reconsider fitting a towbar, because the towing capacity ratings of the HR-V are minuscule: 500kg for an un-braked trailer, 800kg for a braked trailer.
You may want to check out our Honda HR-V problems page if you have concerns about automatic gearbox problems and suspension issues, and be sure to consult your owner's manual for information on oil type, capacity and consumption and the correct battery you'll need. Timing belt or chain? It's a chain.
The Jimny has a 1.5-litre non-turbo four-cylinder petrol engine producing 75kW/130Nm. There’s no getting around the fact this SUV is low on power and you’ll need to really kick it to the firewall at times to extract close to peak power (which arrives at a distant 6000rpm).
For this test, we had the automatic Jimny which comes with a four-speed torque converter automatic.
You read that right, four speeds. It even has an overdrive button. Very ‘90s.
The Jimny also has a real transfer case with low-gearing however, so it makes up for its low-tech drivetrain by having some real ability behind its tough looks.
Fuel economy for the models in the range is dependent on which variant you choose.
For instance, the VTi model has claimed consumption of 6.6 litres per 100km (so, the fuel consumption km/L figure is 15.1). The RS model claims 6.7L/100km (14.9km/L), while the VTi-S and VTi-LX models claim 6.9L/100km (14.5km/L).
So you can expect fuel mileage to vary slightly between models, but all versions have an 'econ mode' if you want to keep the consumption down. The HR-V can run on 91RON regular unleaded petrol.
The Jimny’s official combined fuel usage figure when fitted with the automatic transmission is 6.9L/100km. Sounds fine, although our weekly test which mainly kept to urban streets produced a dash-reported 8.5L/100km.
Fine for a capable off-roader, I suppose, but less impressive in the context of the Jimny’s size and relatively lean 1090kg kerb weight.
The majority of my launch drive time was spent in the RS model, which is - understandably - the version Honda wanted to show off most.
It's a new nameplate for the HR-V line-up, and it has the most visual differentiation compared to the other versions. But it's also the best to drive, with a more fun-focused edge to it.
In truth, the HR-V has never been that much fun to drive. The RS model changes that - to a degree - with a different steering system to the rest of the range. The new variable ratio set-up feels a bit more like real steering in your hand, as opposed to the standard electric system in the other models, which doesn't feel as natural or progressive.
The RS's unique steering requires less effort at higher speeds, but there's a slight downside: in combination with the bigger 18-inch wheels (with wider tyres than any other model in the range), the RS model has a bigger turning circle (11.0m vs 10.6m - or a radius of 5.5, vs 5.3m).
The suspension of the RS model has also been tweaked - the set-up remains a MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension, although the RS gets a specific tune to the dampers which Honda claims "deliver a more rewarding drive with flatter cornering, greater control and a more stable ride".
It's a decent improvement, with more agility and control to the vehicle over bumps. We drove the RS and VTi-LX, and in comparing those two models it was clear the RS was the better tune in terms of body control and overall compliance, even if it offered a minor penalty to pay over sharp edges at lower speeds. But the RS's suspension never felt too harsh - which is important for a vehicle like this.
The real question is - why didn't Honda just do the RS suspension tune for all HR-V models? Presumably that suspension set-up would be even more impressive on a smaller wheel with a bigger tyre sidewall...
The performance from the 1.8-litre engine isn't terrific, but it definitely gets the job done. You're not going to win many acceleration races, and it doesn't gather speed with as much urgency as some of its competitors that roll with turbocharged engines.
But the revisions to the CVT have been worthwhile - it feels a little more willing when you plant your foot, and there's less droning from the transmission. Plus RS and VTi-LX models gain additional sound deadening to try and reduce road noise, and these versions get different seats to the lower grade versions, too. They feel a bit more plush, then, and not just because of the leather seat trim.
There is no off road review to be done here. While the numbers suggest the HR-V could cope with some rough terrain, (ground clearance mm: 170mm), the off road capability is limited by the fact it is front-wheel drive only.
Sure, you might be able to fit a set of off-road tyres to the alloy wheels, and yes, that would look pretty cool. But I wouldn't go testing the wading depth in my HR-V, if I were you.
That's fine, though - this is a city-focused SUV, and it nails that task.
Cabin design and practicality is where the HR-V still shines brightest, even if it isn't as up-to-date as it could be. There are little things, like the fact that every model is fitted with a space-saving electronic parking brake, and those 'Magic Seats' that are fitted to all variants, that add to the smartness of the space. Admittedly, to be even more enticing, things like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would be added, plus a digital speedometer.
But all in all, the updated HR-V is an improvement on what was already a very good small SUV.
The Jimny drives how it looks, for better or worse. The good includes visibility thanks to its big upright windows and generous rear vision mirrors, the ride which is so beyond capable for urban use it’ll have you driving over roundabouts and mounting kerbs for fun, and your distance from the ground makes the cabin surprisingly quiet despite thin sheet metal.
You’ll probably never tire of its fun interior fittings and touch-points which blend the modern feel of the Swift’s steering wheel and multimedia screen with the distinctly military-look dial cluster, manual handbrake and transfer case shifter.
There are some quirks of the Jimny though, which you will tire of over time. The steering is fine at most urban speeds, but gets vague above 80km/h and annoyingly heavy at or near a standstill, making parking more of a chore than it should be.
The little box’s centre of gravity is notably high, too, and you feel disconnected from corners and the road generally thanks to its ladder frame and capable suspension. You’ll find yourself slowing down for bends, which at best are tipsy and at worst uncomfortable.
The 1.5-litre engine and old-school four-speed auto combine to make a less-than-enthusiastic package. You’ll really need to kick the Jimny in the guts to get it up to speed, leaving you very little power in reserve for overtaking.
What’s more, the transmission is noisy and incredibly transparent about what it’s doing, lurching between gears in an acceleration experience which is a little too reflective of cars from 20 years ago.
At this point, I know what you’re thinking: “So, you didn’t like it very much?” Actually, quite the opposite. The Jimny possesses an honest old-world charm few vehicles on the market today come anywhere close to. There is something genuinely appealing about how it wears its flaws on its sleeve, so I subjectively enjoyed the drive experience quite a lot, bouncing around in the driver’s seat with a smile on my face every trip. Potential owners deserve to know it is nostalgic to a fault, however.
The safety rating of the Honda HR-V remains a maximum five-star ANCAP score, which it was originally awarded in 2015.
The safety features list has been improved for this facelifted model, with the addition of a low-speed auto emergency braking (AEB) system, known as 'City-Brake Active'. It will warn the driver and apply brake force at speeds from five-32km/h.
The best safety package is still reserved for the range-topping model, which gets full forward collision warning and AEB, plus lane departure warning and auto high-beam. You can't option that tech on the other models, either, which is kind of disappointing. Unlike some rivals, you can't get blind-spot monitoring, or rear cross-traffic alert, or adaptive cruise control. So the high-spec model's kit is good, but not great.
There's a reverse camera on all grades, and Honda's 'LaneWatch' camera on the top three specs. The base model can be optioned with rear parking sensors, and those are fitted to the three higher specs as standard, with the top spec model gaining front park assist sensors.
If you need to fit a baby seat, you'll be pleased to know there are two ISOFIX anchor points in the outboard rear seats, plus three top-tether attachments.
All HR-V models have six airbags.
A lot of people search "where is the Honda HRV built?" Well, firstly, it's the HR-V - hyphens are important. And secondly, you might be surprised to learn the answer is not Japan, it's Thailand.
The Jimny’s less-than-impressive three-star ANCAP rating was widely publicized near its release, and one look at the photos from the offset crash tests are enough to make you a little uncomfortable behind the wheel.
Still Suzuki has put effort in to include active safety refinements, like auto emergency braking (works from 15-100km/h, detects pedestrians but not cyclists, limited function at night), and lane departure warning. There is no lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, or more advanced items like traffic sign recognition.
Six airbags are standard along with electronic brake, traction, and stability controls.
Honda has a strong ownership plan compared to some of its small SUV rivals.
With a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, it's among the best in the class. No need to worry about an extended warranty, like you might if you bought a Toyota C-HR or Suzuki Vitara. No model in this segment has anything better than the warranty that Honda offers.
As for capped price servicing, the plan spans up to 10 years or 100,000km - meaning service intervals of 12 months/10,000km, whichever occurs first. The service costs are pretty well under control, too, with the average capped price service costing $296, before additional consumables.
See our Honda HR-V problems page for issues, complaints, common faults and defects. It should be able to help you gauge the reliability rating of the car.
Suzuki offers all of its vehicles with an updated five-year unlimited kilometre warranty (on par with other mainstream automakers) and requires servicing once every 12 months or 15,000km whichever comes first.
Service pricing is fixed for the first six visits and costs between $239 and $519 per appointment and comes out to a yearly average of $362.33. Not bad.