While waiting for future electric vehicles, Honda continues to develop various hybrid cars. The i-MMD engines have been rebranded as e:HEV, and the new HR-V uses this slightly modified technology.
To better identify its strengths and weaknesses, as well as assess its relevance in the current context of electrification, we tested it over 2,200 kilometers.
Honda HR-V design and ergonomics
For the third generation of the so-called Joy Machine, Honda has radically changed its philosophy. After an original first version, the manufacturer designed a fairly conventional small SUV.
This time, the third version of the HR-V is more attractive and generous. Outside first, the wide grille and the SUV coupé profile give it a more original look, and a more qualitative appearance.
Our test version was decorated in the color Khaki Sable Nacré, which oscillates between a rather light khaki green under the clouds and a sand color, almost champagne, under the sun. The trim of the test model is Advance, including hands-free tailgate, heated steering wheel, tilting mirrors and 6 speakers.
Inside, there is a simpler dashboard than the CR-V and less fancy than the Jazz. Again, the step taken in terms of quality is clear, with more quality materials and assembly than the other two models.
The 9-inch touch screen is the same on the Jazz and the upcoming Civic. It overlooks a central console with analog controls. The instrumentation screen behind the steering wheel occupies half of the space, because a needle counter is added to it. In these times of chip scarcity, this first maligned Honda idea certainly isn’t bad.
The room of the hybrid SUV impressed again
The habitability of Hondas is never proven over time, and this HR-V is no exception to the rule. Like all current SUVs, the brand has integrated its famous magic seat in the back. The seat can thus be raised against the backrest to place large and tall objects, such as a bicycle or plants.
In addition to this system specific to the Japanese manufacturer, the passenger compartment is optimized to make the most of every available space. By folding the rear seat, you benefit from a flat floor and a volume that increases to 1,289 liters.
Leg room for rear passengers is also important. The shape of the SUV coupé does not prevent that there is enough height at the level of the head in the back, and a passenger of 1.80 m is comfortable there. Note that the central seat, raised, is not as wide as the side seats.
The trunk lacks a little space, on the other hand, with 319 liters of cargo space. The double bottom adds a little more space, with an additional 16 liters. For a car that is 4.34 meters long, however, these numbers remain correct. In addition, the boot is accessed via a practical automatic tailgate.
Performance: the HR-V is above all pragmatic
Like the Honda Jazz, the HR-V uses a 1.5 liter 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle as the basis for its i-MMD system. It produces 107 horsepower and 131 Nm of torque, coupled with an electric motor. The set deploys 131 horsepower and 253 Nm of torque, which allows it to do 0 to 100 km / h in 10.6 seconds.
Depending on the battery charge, only the electric motor provides traction for the SUV. Well optimized, it always allows the car to be shown in 100% electric mode, in short distances and in recovery periods.
The transition from electrical to thermal is completely controlled, and completely invisible. Sometimes the power is limited, especially during heavy acceleration, such as in insertions or when leaving after motorway tolls.
To limit the feeling of this lack of power, Honda has developed a special transmission. This is a continuously variable electrical modulator system, which the manufacturer calls eCVT. If we find the howler aspect we know in other CVTs, it is very limited here. In fact, this eCVT simulates gear changes that allow the engine to drop in revs and destroy its lyrical flight.
A very interesting option every day, and especially on long journeys, to limit the disturbance in the passenger compartment. In addition, the optimization of the powertrain – including the transmission – makes it possible to limit consumption.
Correct fuel consumption for an SUV
Over all 2,200 kilometers driven by the wheels of the Japanese SUV, the average consumption is 6.5 l/100 km. But this average is not the mixed average of our test, because we did a little more than half of these kilometers on the highway.
In mixed consumption, in the city, road and highway, it is possible to reduce the consumption to 6.2 liters. It is slightly higher than the average given in the WLTP homologation cycle, which is shown at 5.4 l/100 km. We are logical in the actual values that are much smaller than the WLTP, but this can be contained by practicing eco-driving.
Like the CR-V, and unlike the Jazz, the HR-V offers paddles to control the level of change. Thus it is possible to choose from four levels of transformation, which is very practical in urban stages. By combining this system with careful eco-driving, city fuel consumption can be reduced to 4.9 liters. However, this is once again higher than the values shown in the homologation cycle which are between 4.1 and 4.6 l/100 km.
For a 1.4 ton vehicle, we can salute a beautiful delicacy, which is accompanied in addition to an incomparable gentleness in the city. Few vehicles in this segment offer such urban approval, even if it means suffering a little when power is needed.
Comfort and life aboard the Honda HR-V
As for the driving pleasure, we salute the well-balanced suspensions and steering. The contact with the road is strong and the body roll is limited, but the comfort is there because of the high ground clearance.
The latter clearly makes the HR-V a car with relatively low dynamic characteristics, even by activating the Sport mode. It does not work miracles and unfortunately has the effect of slightly increasing consumption.
For long trips, this suspension balance can be important. The upholstery isn’t the most comfortable we’ve seen, especially in the back, but we could drive for hours without feeling tired on arrival.
Finally, the HR-V’s infotainment system is very well done. It’s easy to get used to how it works, especially with Android Auto, which makes it easy to use the nine-inch screen.
Whether it’s on the touch screen, super quick response, or on the instrument behind the steering wheel, we appreciate having the information in front of us. The only downside is the needle counter, which reduces the possibility of customizing the instrumentation.
The car’s native GPS, for example, can be found on the left side of this display. When you use the navigation system, the fuel consumption information disappears, and you often find yourself in a situation where you have to make a choice about the information displayed on the screen. A choice that does not appear if you have a speed displayed digitally on a small part of the screen.
In conclusion: is the hybrid still relevant?
Despite some flaws, this third copy that Honda has made of the HR-V name is very well made. We can congratulate the revised design and the increased quality, as well as the right endowment for this model. Without additional packages, the options are many and, with this color and these rims, the price is 34,710 euros.
In an era where electrification is fast, and where electricity and PHEV have priority, Honda is often criticized for continuing to design cars with simple hybridization, as this is also the engine of the new Civic.
Of course, the consumption of 6.2 l/100 kilometers seems unreasonable, and we should be closer to “zero emissions”. But in reality, charging infrastructure and the price of electric cars often complicate access to these vehicles.
For people who do not have access to a charging station at home or at work, a combustion engine is still the reality. And even if it means buying an SUV, since this sector represents almost 50% of the market, the choice of this HR-V is very important. Despite the large grille and ride height, it offers much more competitive fuel consumption than its petrol-powered rivals.
From its ridiculously low fuel consumption in the city to its limited appetite on the highway, if of course you have the right and lightest right foot, it now offers a terrific option to move towards electrification.
- Honda’s always the best place to live
- Very reasonable consumption
- A more qualitative interior
- City driving pleasure
- The eCVT always surprises CVT critics
- A fairly gentle rise
- Sport mode without a lot of gear
- A tree with a limited number