I used to think the Honda HR-V was the CR-V’s poor cousin. It was smaller, not as roomy and it frankly just looked weird. The first-generation model had a flattened rear and elongated rear windows. It looked like a van on stilts. It was that ugly.
It’s In The Genes
When Honda re-introduced the model with a second generation in 2013, the design had evolved. Gone was the boxy exterior and in came a more angular body. It was a crossover car: part-SUV and part-sedan. But whereas most crossovers have a dominant SUV or sedan gene, the HR-V didn’t. It was neither one nor the other. So it still looked weird.
The New HR-V
Which is why I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the third-generation HR-V. Honda has finally decided what the car should be – a sleek and modern compact SUV that actually looks like an SUV. And the result is really rather pleasing.
The latest HR-V rises fully above the ground. A long bonnet stretches out before the driver and high-waisted doors provide balance to the overall design. An elegantly sloping rear C-pillar reveals a sporting side to the car. Something that was unthinkable in previous generations.
But none of these design cues is obvious or brash. Everything is calm and understated. The grille is painted to match the exterior body colour and blends seamlessly into the front wings of the car. A large, metallic Honda logo takes pride of place in the centre of the grille but is in proportion to the rest of the front end.
The interior of the car continues the unfussy, streamlined theme. The centre console is the epitome of uncluttered minimalism. It bears just three physical dials. I’m sure the Japanese tidying guru, Marie Kondo, would approve. The majority of the car’s programmes are accessible via a screen that stands out neatly in front of the padded dashboard. The steering wheel is small and compact but with enough chunk to satisfy the car’s new SUV credentials.
Ventilation Can Be Special Too
The most intriguing part of the HR-V is the new air diffusion system which Honda claims creates a “curtain of fresh air” beside and above the passengers. I like to think a spa would provide the same experience. Calm, soothingness everywhere. Including in the air con.
The Steady March Of The Electric Revolution
But this is not even what Honda is proudest of. The standout feature for the motor manufacturer from Tokyo is that the car can only be purchased in hybrid form. There are no petrol-only or diesel-only variants. A two-motor hybrid electric powertrain comes as standard and is Honda’s latest step in its path to electrifying all its mainstream European models by next year. The CR-V and the Jazz are already available as hybrids.
So if you’re in the market for an elegant and modern SUV, take a serious look at the new HR-V. The car is released later this year and you might be in for a pleasant surprise.