Honda HR-V Advance review: Attractive and stylish 5-door crossover but lacks driver appeal – Colin Goodwin
Honda’s new HR-V Advance five-door crossover is Honda’s best looking crossover ever, very practical and easy to live with – if you can live with the lukewarm driving experience…
You’re spoiled for choice if you’re looking to buy a compact crossover, and given the popularity of this type of car, chances are you’ll want one.
It’s a crowded market, so it’s no surprise that Honda has gone to great lengths to make its new HR-V as attractive as possible. From the outside, it was rather successful with a trendy sloping back and a stunning front.
It looks much more attractive than the outgoing HR-V and is comparable to the 2008 Vauxhall Mokka and Peugeot.
So the Honda looks the part, but how does it compare elsewhere? Well, it’s a curse’s egg situation, with some parts of the egg being very smelly.
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The old HR-V was available with either a 1.5 liter petrol engine or a 1.6 liter diesel. Both have been replaced with a hybrid powertrain that uses a 106bhp 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine and an electric motor via a fixed-gear e-CVT gearbox.
The car still starts on electricity, which it also uses at slower speeds. Even with a relatively small 1.1kWh battery, the car can run like this for surprisingly long periods around town, although Honda won’t confirm a maximum range just for EVs.
Three trim levels are available starting from the bottom with Elegance (at £26,960) then moving up through Advance to Advance Style. We drive the middle pick which costs £29,760.
Even the Elegance comes with a good level of equipment which includes heated seats. A move to Advance brings with it a heated leather steering wheel, power tailgate and dual-zone climate control instead of a single zone.
There’s a good reason not to go for the HR-V flagship aside from its £31,660 price tag. Its “premium” sound system isn’t that high-end, and the subwoofer takes up space in the boot, which at 319 liters isn’t that big anyway.
Honda bucks the trend by giving you a decent array of buttons, dials and switches so that virtually any tweak can be made without having to dive into the infotainment system.
With the fuel tank under the front seats, there is space in the rear to accommodate Honda’s Magic Seats.
Their backs can be folded completely flat as the bases can slide all the way to the floor, allowing tall items to be carried. This in many ways makes up for the lack of volume.
Honda says it’s all about driver comfort and enjoyment, and on the first point the new HR-V scores well.
The tank under the front seats also creates a high seating position that gives a good view and the ride is comfortable even on the poorest tarmac.
But is it a fun car to drive? Not really. The HR-V feels sluggish and if you give it a nudge to encourage it, the engine revs skyrocket, making it extremely noisy.
However, the HR-V is a million miles sportier and should therefore be driven in a relaxed manner. It probably will be too.
The e-CVT transmission is the culprit. It’s a shame that Honda doesn’t use a more conventional or as innovative automatic transmission as Renault’s nifty clutchless automatic gearbox that it adapts to its E-Tech hybrids.
Leaving aside the lukewarm driving experience, you have the most beautiful Honda crossover ever, very practical and easy to live with.
It’s also very well equipped for the price, especially in the Advance spec.
Honda HR-V Advance five-door crossover
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine plus electric motor, producing 129 bhp
Fuel consumption: 52.3mpg
Nissan Qashqai Dig-T 140 Premier
Faster, but with a manual gearbox and less kit.
Peugeot 2008 GT Prime
Smart styling inside and out, and not bad to drive.
Volkswagen T-Roc SE
A much more powerful style but less inspired and less practical inside.