Honda HR-V Sport Review – compact SUV with magic rear seats

Check out the practicality and magic seats on the HR-V!

We all love the Honda CR-V, so much so that it’s the world’s fifth best-selling car! I’ve owned one myself. It has however grown bigger and pricier over the years. What if you want the image, reliability and build quality of the Honda marque, but need something a little more compact, but no less usable? The answer is easy and presents itself on this page – the Honda HR-V.

The second generation Honda HR-V returned after a 10-year gap as the first edition ran from 1998-2006, and has been on a sale fora while now. It’s available with 130bhp 1.5-litre i-VTEC with prices starting at £20,000. There’s also a 120bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel version. In our market it’s not available with all-wheel drive (unlike the CR-V), but 2019 did see a new Sport variant.

Still front-wheel drive only, it comes with a 1.5-litre TurboVTEC engine that produces 182bhp. It’s available as either a six-speed manual or CVT transmission(with simulated step changes and paddleshifts) and is capable of 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds and reach 134mph. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 39.2 mpg with CO2 emissions at 151g/km for the manual and 163g/km as a CVT. The price starts at just over £29.000.

It features high-gloss black and dark chrome trim, revised bumpers and side skirts, more pronounced wheel arches and 18-inch lightweight alloy wheels. In the cabin you have wine leather and fabric seat upholstery and sportier trim on the dashboard. Under the skin, Sport means performance tuned suspension dampers and revised settings to better cope with the increased power. The electric power steering has also been tweaked.

That is all standard as is dual-zone climate control, rear parking camera, headed mirrors, cruise control, automatically dimming rear view mirrors, trip computer, heated front seats, LED lights along with Honda Connect featuring Garmin Sat Nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB radio, 6-speakers and a 7-inch touch screen.

It also has pretty much a full complement of safety features: ABS brakes with assist, collision mitigation and pedestrian detection; child seat anchors;tyre pressure monitor; whiplash protection;traffic sigh recognition and along with ESP stability control there is also agile handling assist.

In the boot you get a waterproof luggagebox, underfloor storage and 431 litres of space – expandable to 1473 litres with the rear seats down. And talking of those second row pews – it takes a trick out of the Honda Jazz playbook. Not only do the seat backs fold down, but the seat base also flips up and locks vertically, thereby freeing up a tall cargo area to transports say plants or a bicycle perhaps.

Put the bases back down again and it’s not only comfortable and surprisingly spacious back here, where even a couple of large six-foot place people could happily travel. So much room is there, that if you are buying a CR-V just for the space, you really should take a look at this one first!

And not that you’re squeezed up front either. The instrument panel is mostly analogue, with nice big clear dials, but perhaps an opportunity missed to provide an additional display of mph, seeing as it’s the Sport variant in particular.

Its party piece is within a bin in the centre console between the seats, where you can fit two bottles but it’s too deep to accommodate takeaway cups – or so it seems. Press a couple of buttons and two false floors pop up. It’s brilliant and will keep your passengers amused for all of 30 seconds. Also within this area are USB and even HDMI plugs, but they are hidden under bridge for the transmission shifter which, okay, keeps them out of sight, but can also make them difficult to access.

On the go the CVT transmission is relatively forgivable for being unobtrusive and mostly forgettable (which is what you want from an auto-box) it’s only when you press on hard does it start to drone. The steering weights up quite a bit, surprisingly so, just as the suspension is perhaps a little firmer than I would have expected. Not that it makes the ride uncomfortable, there is a compliance in the way it manages city roads that will keep most people happy.

All of which does make it a little more entertaining and enjoyable to drive than your average compact SUV. It remains neutral through corners up to a point, keep understeer in check, avoids too much body roll and performance is quite decent for this type of car.

The question is, however, if you can that fractional extra stiff-ness and increased get-up-and-go from your HR-V. If you are after a performance SUV, you’d probably not be looking at a Honda HR-V in the first instance (though clearly you should). For most looking at this sort of vehicle, despite not having driven them, I rather suspect the lesser power petrol model and/or the diesel would be perfectly acceptable.

A more pertinent question for me is whether I’d consider downsizing to an HR-V from the CR-V. It doesn’t look like you’d lose much in terms of practicality and space, and might gain in terms of saving a few pounds. But then that’s a CR-V, and this isn’t. And if I got this, I’d feel like I’d missed out a little bit.

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