Honda's HR-V is back and improved

The second generation Honda HR-V aims to stake a strong claim for the Japanese brand in the growing compact crossover market. This time round, it's more spacious and better equipped to take on segment leaders.

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Buyers choose from either a 1.5 petrol unit or a 1.6 diesel, both sending drive to the front wheels. It looks good and deserves to do well.

Honda has ditched any pretence that this HR-V is a go-anywhere vehicle, offering it solely in front-wheel drive guise. There's a choice of petrol or diesel power, the fromer being a 13-PS 1.5-litre iVTEC petrol, with the black pump-fuelled variant getting a 12-PS 1.6 i-DTEC unit. Each drives through a six-speed manual transmission, although the petrol powerplant can be optioned with a CVT automatic, with a paddle-shift on some trims.

The HR-V features a low centre of gravity, with the driver's hip point more akin to a conventional hatch than an SUV. The body is extremely rigid due to a high percentage of high-tensile steel, and this in turn helps isolate the suspension to do its job properly. Honda has concentrated on refinement, optimising aerodynamics to reduce wind noise at speed. The HR-V also employs a highly efficient acoustic insulation package. Sound absorption measures in the inner wheel arches, floor carpet and underfloor cover combine to reduce cabin noise levels.

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Honda reckons the MK2 model HR-V combines the personality of a coupe with the solid stance of an SUV and they're not too far wrong. The design is neat and interesting, with hidden rear door handles, deeply sculpted lower body panels and a CR-V style front grille, headlamps and pointed taper at the rear side window line. The cabin features decent quality materials, with a soft-touch dash top accented with brushed chrome and piano black inlays.

Unlike its predecessor, this HR-V's quite spacious inside and there's room to accommodate Hondas Magic Seat system. As well as splitting 60/40, the rear bench seat backs can fold forward as the seat base lowers to create a long, flat floor. The front and rear passenger seat backs can also fold forward to a horizontal position to accommodate longer items. The boot holds 453-litres with the rear seats in use, and 1,026-litres to the window line with the rear seats folded away.

The Honda HR-V's styling is neat and despite the sloping roofline, practicality is well up to par. It's certainly a good deal more affordable and edgier than a CR-V. Of course, Honda has been here before with the HR-V but has learned lessons from that first generation model. This time round, the brand has appreciated the need for real substance behind the style. With this in place, the HR-V will continue to appeal even if something fresher and more fashionable comes along.

Job done.

 

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