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In-depth reviews

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

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Performance, engine & drive rating

2.5 out of 5

0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
10.6s106mphFront129bhp

The HR-V is the latest hybrid-only model from Honda. Under the bonnet is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder 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.

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There’s a choice of three driving modes: Econ for greater fuel efficiency, Sport for a more responsive drive and Normal for a combination of the two. 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.

Handling

While the Ford Puma is undoubtedly more fun to drive, the HR-V feels composed and secure when cornering, and the ride quality is good. 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.

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Welcome one and all, I’m Ellis the news reporter on Auto Express, the brand’s former online reviews editor and contributor to DrivingElectric. I’m proud to say I cut my teeth reporting and reviewing all things EV as the content editor on DrivingElectric. I joined the team while completing my master’s degree in automotive journalism at Coventry University and since then I’ve driven just about every electric car and hybrid I could get my hands on.

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