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 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.

Handling

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.

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