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Honda HR-V Elegance CVT drive

Honda’s current baby SUV, the HR-V, is actually quite an appealing vehicle. It has a lot going for it. Unfortunately sales have not reflected this, po

By Thami Masemola on 19 Nov 2020
Honda’s current baby SUV, the HR-V, is actually quite an appealing vehicle. It has a lot going for it. Unfortunately sales have not reflected this, possibly due to lack of marketing support and a generally absent Honda in the market. A new team has been appointed at Honda SA, so hopefully this will quickly change. The problem has not been the product.
Coming back to the HR-V, we drove the Elegance model (there’s an entry-level Comfort as well) which is fitted with a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre engine. Some of the exterior features include LED daytime running lights, headlights with LED elements, a new front grille, and a coupe-like overall shape. It does not seem to have hampered the car though, because interior space is still ample and luggage space can go up to 1 002 litres.

Looking at the car from the sides, one immediately notices the sloping rear roofline and more than that, the sharp C-pillar, at the base of which is the rear door handle. Front door handles are in chrome finish, which is a sign of luxury with most Asian brands. The rear features LED lights, a short chrome bar and a boot spoiler with a brake light.

The interior did feel spacious, for a small car. Four adults will sit comfortably, while a fifth would be quite squeezed in the middle. Two adults and three children, different story. Honda has kept its well-regarded Magic Seat System which allows for various seating and load carrying configurations. Additionally there is plenty of normal storage space within the cabin. Honda has used some solid build material on the HR-V, with soft touch surfaces and piano gloss black featuring in a number of areas. Our unit also came with the standard leather upholstery with double-contrast stitching.

A whole range of other interior features are available with the Elegance model, including an engine Start/ stop button, electromagnetic handbrake with Auto Hold for those momentary stops on steeps, a touch screen infotainment system with a 17.2cm screen, air conditioning, cruise control, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, HDMI port and of course, radio functionality. We found the systems to be simple to use. A reversing camera has also been installed.

A number of the Asian brands, including Honda, seem to favour the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) solution as their preferred candidate when it comes to automatics. Our HR-V Elegance is standard with a CVT, as well as the 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine that delivers 105kW at 6 500rpm and 172Nm of torque at 4 300rpm. Definitely not a rocket by any means on take-off. However, once on the move it is smooth, even as you are still able to pick up a bit of that drone-like CVT sound. The more adventurous among us will even use the shift paddles behind the steering wheel to “change gears”, which is really just an exercise to keep one busy in traffic. Honda claims an average of 6.8-litre per 100km in fuel consumption, but we could only manage 7.6 litres in mixed driving conditions in Gauteng.

The Honda HR-V is actually a real alternative to the usual names in its segment. Although it has its few shortcomings, it is worth considering when buying a small, sub-premium family SUV.
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