Let’s start with the exterior design where the HRV excels, it manages to be modern enough to attract a more youthful buying audience yet maintain enough design ethos from Hondas of old to keep the brands conservative buying audience. The exterior is a mixture of sweeping lines and sharp angles with the prominent front end sweeping backward to a side profile that creates a sporty silhouette.
Inside the HRV the improvement in build quality is immediately apparent, it may share a platform with the Jazz but in terms of tangible material feel and layout of this model is noticeably better. The car is quite large for its segment, it is longer than both the Nissan Juke and Kia Soul and this can be seen and felt with a relatively large boot (393 litres) and a capacious cabin in which my three passengers commented on the HRV’s impressive rear space. The now well-known Honda Magic Seat system also allows for the back seats to be folded in several different ways to accommodate different user needs.
In terms of the infotainment system the model that I had on test was equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen system with USB/Bluetooth/AUX compatibility as well as a Sat Nav system. The media device is simple enough to use however it is not class leading, with some lag and as times necessitating a second or third touch.
In terms of the powertrains I feel that this is perhaps where the HRV could have been better. We are in an era of downsizing and super-slick automatic gearboxes, so to see a 1.8 litre naturally aspirated motor along with a CVT gearbox powering the vehicle leaves you wanting more. There’s 105kW/172Nm to make use of which at launch at the coast felt like enough however up at the reef it felt sluggish. This meant that I had to work the car harder in everyday driving situations which lead to a high consumption figure of around 10.2 litres/100km versus the 6.8 litres/100km claimed.
I am aware that Honda will say that its buyers, much like Toyota buyers still want the simplistic mechanicals which last longer as I’m sure the HRV will. But with a car that looks this modern a more youthful next-generation buyer would want to buy in to the brand. This is where I feel Honda should up its game. It has the technology, look at the new Civic Type R, the recently announced S2000 successor as well as the new turbocharged engines that its developing as an example.
To surmise the HRV is a great contender within the segment, it offers more room than most rivals, it is stylish and well put together. The only problems that I see with it is the powertrain options and the high price which, as we know has to do with our poor currency.
Price: R361 900