Honda HR-V hybrid review

The HR-V's styling, cabin, infotainment and efficiency make it a strong alternative to the Toyota Yaris Cross and other compact SUVs

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Styling
  • Infotainment
  • Build quality

Cons

  • Not enough power
  • Refinement
  • Boot space
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
Hybrid52.3mpg122g/km10.6s

The compact SUV craze doesn’t show any signs of waning, with everyone from BMW to Vauxhall looking to get a slice of the action. The Honda HR-V, available exclusively with the company's 'e:HEV' petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain, is the one of the many rivals of the Toyota Yaris Cross and Kia Niro Hybrid, as well as the all-important Nissan Juke – the car that kickstarted the compact SUV craze in the UK.

In terms of styling, the latest HR-V certainly stands out from its rivals; with a coupe-like roofline and minimalist design all round, it’s a welcome departure from the sometimes overly complicated looks of some of Honda’s previous models. However, to our eyes, the large front grille does look awkward from some angles.

The redesign of the HR-V’s cabin is equally as comprehensive. The dashboard gets a simple, modern layout and boasts a new nine-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s sharp and responsive, plus high-quality, physical switchgear for the climate control and other functions. Cabin quality is strong throughout and feels just as plush as anything else in this class; it’s not the most luxurious interior, but it certainly feels built to last.

There's a 35mm increase in rear legroom over the previous car, meaning even taller passengers are greeted by a good amount of kneeroom when they get in the back. There’s also a decent amount of headroom; despite lowering the HR-V’s roofline by 20mm and increasing ground clearance, the battery for the Honda’s hybrid powertrain has been fitted below the boot, as opposed to underneath the rear seats like on some rivals.

However, that does mean the battery eats into the boot, resulting in just 319 litres of load space – significantly less than its Kia and Toyota rivals offer. Thankfully, Honda's famous 'Magic Seats' have made their way from the Jazz supermini, offering the ability to flip the rear bases up to load larger items in the rear footwell. Alternatively, you can fold the rear seats into the floor of the car, which opens up 1,289 litres of load capacity.

The HR-V joins the Jazz supermini, CR-V SUV and 11th generation Civic hatchback in Honda’s range of hybrid-only cars. That means, regardless of what trim you select, there's a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that for the most part acts as a generator for the two electric motors it’s coupled with. The 129bhp and 253Nm of torque the e:HEV setup offers is enough for 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, with power sent to the front wheels only.

At lower speeds, the HR-V silently glides along on electric power alone, making the car feel quite refined and driving around town relaxing, although there is a little more road noise than we’d like. Trying to get up to motorway speeds is a more taxing task however; you’re left waiting for the engine to respond, with the car’s systems figuring out how to most effectively put its power to the road, which sends the revs soaring. This does only occur when you really put your foot down, though.

Otherwise, the HR-V feels stable and secure on the road, with precise and well weighted steering and a comfortable ride. On our first test abroad, the HR-V couldn’t crack 45mpg, but when we took it out on UK roads, we saw over 60mpg in mixed driving situations – above even Honda’s own fuel-economy figures for the car. 

It's on the pricer end of the compact SUV spectrum, starting from nearly £29,500, however, there’s still a lot to like about the HR-V, from its styling and cabin design to the solid build quality and amount of interior space, all of which make for a pleasant compact SUV package. For a more detailed look at the Honda HR-V, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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