Honda HR-V hybrid performance, engine & drive
The HR-V excels when running on electric power alone, but falters you ask for more from the hybrid powertrain
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The HR-V is the latest hybrid-only model from Honda. Under the bonnet is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine connected to a pair of electric motors. The first actively drives the wheels, while the second, a generator motor, converts engine power into electricity before feeding it to the first motor. Total output is a modest 129bhp and 253Nm of torque.
You get a choice of three driving modes in the HR-V: Econ, Normal and Sport. Selecting ‘B’ for the transmission offers selectable levels of energy recovery when coasting or braking, with the option to adjust the level of energy recovery and strength of deceleration using the paddles behind the steering wheel.
Honda HR-V hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
As you might expect, performance from a compact SUV with that amount of power isn’t blistering: 0-62mph takes well over 10 seconds, while the HR-V’s top speed is 106mph. Like the other hybrids in its class, the HR-V actively switches between petrol and electric power, or a combination of the two depending on the driving situation.
At lower speeds, the HR-V silently glides along on electricity, making it feel quite refined. A little more road noise than we’d like does intrude, but otherwise there are no vibrations or noise coming from the petrol engine, and driving around town is relaxing.
Refinement does take a hit at higher speeds when the combustion engine kicks in; the transition from electric to hybrid power is relatively smooth, but try to accelerate up to motorway speeds, for example, and you'll find the throttle response is delayed. Putting your foot down sends the revs from the petrol engine soaring as the car’s drive systems try and figure to effectively put its power to the road.
The HR-V certainly isn’t as fun to drive as the Ford Puma it competes with, but it does feel stable and secure through corners, plus the ride is generally comfortable. The steering is also well weighted and precise, however, some of the Honda's rivals do offer a little extra assistance to make them easier to manoeuvre around town.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe HR-V's styling, cabin, infotainment and efficiency make it a strong alternative to the Toyota Yaris Cross and other compact SUVs
- 2MPG & CO2 emissionsThe hybrid-only HR-V is capable of returning competitive fuel economy figures that surpass even Honda’s claims with ease
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe HR-V’s high insurance rating is certainly going to take a chunk out of any potential savings that come from running a hybrid like this
- 4Performance, engine & drive - currently readingThe HR-V excels when running on electric power alone, but falters you ask for more from the hybrid powertrain
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortIt costs more than its rivals to buy, but the HR-V’s infotainment system and interior quality go some way to justifying that price tag
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThanks to some clever packaging, there’s no loss of cabin space, even with the hybrid system on board – although boot space is somewhat lacking
- 7Reliability & safety ratingHonda’s solid reputation and the HR-V’s four-star Euro NCAP rating put the hybrid SUV in a good position here