Honda HR-V SUV review
"The Honda HR-V has evolved into a hybrid-only SUV with smooth styling but it's a shame boot space has shrunk"
- Easy to live with
- Cheap to run
- Small boot
- Coarse petrol engine
The Honda HR-V is a small SUV that’s come in for big changes for this latest generation, both in terms of how it looks and how it drives. A full hybrid setup is now the only choice, just as with the smaller Honda Jazz, making the HR-V a clean and easy-to-drive option.
It goes head-to-head with hybrids like the Toyota C-HR and Renault Captur E-Tech Hybrid, while the Ford Puma, Nissan Juke and Skoda Kamiq are rivals with more traditional engine options. It's a busy, trendy part of the market, with virtually every manufacturer offering a strong contender as a result.
The HR-V’s exterior styling ticks the right boxes, with sturdy looks and a coupe-SUV roofline to help set the car apart. It also takes Honda in a new direction, with cleaner shapes and softer angles than the outgoing Honda Civic. An upright, slotted grille and flat bonnet helps give the HR-V the tough looks many buyers want. We think it looks smarter than the previous-generation HR-V, even if you could argue the looks are conservative.
The interior is fairly minimalist but Honda has retained physical controls for the air-conditioning, which is positive, as it makes the system easier to use on the move. The nine-inch infotainment setup is also a big improvement over the old HR-V's system, with more attractive looks and improved connectivity, including Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay.
Storing the hybrid battery pack under the boot has ensured tall occupants can get comfortable inside but this approach has also eaten into boot space. Measuring just 319 litres behind the back seats, room in the boot is disappointing and is easily beaten by that in the Nissan Juke. In fact, nearly all its rivals have bigger load spaces. At least Honda's ‘Magic Seats’ mean the middle of the car offers some flexible storage space.
Being a hybrid not only affects practicality, but also the price, which has risen. It’s still possible to buy a car of this size for under £20,000, but the HR-V starts on the wrong side of £25,000, and ultimately our UK drive has revealed that it doesn’t stand out in enough areas to feel like good value.
The e:HEV hybrid system is shared with the Honda Jazz, albeit it has a bigger battery in the HR-V. The system uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, giving 129bhp and up to 52.3mpg. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.6 seconds and in some situations the HR-V can feel underpowered but it's efficient and at its best around town. Here, its neat handling is also perfectly adequate, without matching the Puma.
We're fans of Honda's new exterior and interior design, with much improved infotainment and cleaner lines. Build quality is a high point and the hybrid powertrain is likely to prove cost-effective to run. It doesn't feel quite as well suited to the bigger HR-V though, performing better in the Jazz, and the small boot is off-putting.