2022 Honda HR-V review: All that jazz
When asked “Which car should I buy?” Jeremy Clarkson used to answer without hesitation: “a Ferrari F40”. I’ve never had the chance to drive an F40, but I had one on my bedroom wall and I think Britain’s most famous farmer might be right. When people ask me the same question, I usually answer “a Honda Jazz”.
Now, I won’t claim that a 1.5-liter hybrid offers the same visceral excitement as a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V8. Nor that the Japanese city car looks as punchy on a poster as the italian supercar.
But when I worked at Which?, the Jazz came in first in our owner survey every year. It is extremely practical and totally reliable. And that’s what most people expect from a car.
Where is it? Some took my advice and bought a Jazz (my mother, among others), but others can’t look past its box-on-wheels silhouette and OAP image. If that sounds like you, Honda has something a little more forward-thinking: the new third-generation HR-V.
The HR-V uses the same gasoline-electric hybrid transmission like the Jazz, but with more power and a 25% larger battery. A combined 131 hp serves up 0-62 mph in 10.7 seconds and a decent economy 52.3 mpg.
Unlike some hybrids, you can’t plug in the HR-V to increase battery range, but Honda claims it operates in zero-emission EV mode for 91 percent of city driving. Instant electric torque also makes it responsive in traffic.
Escape to the countryside
Outside of urban areas, the HR-V is less impressive. Its e-CVT automatic gearbox keeps the engine revving high when you accelerate, while its light steering feels rather contrived. Switching to Sport mode makes little discernible difference.
Ultimately, there’s no shortage of cornering grip and balance, but don’t expect to venture far off the tarmac. Despite its SUV style, the Honda is front-wheel drive only.
You could even describe the HR-V as a coupe-SUV, as its rear roofline is sloping. Whatever the semantics, it’s a very on-trend shape in 2022. Sharp contours and distinctive details, such as the bolt-on grille and full-width taillight bar, lend a futuristic feel.
It stands out in a class full of bold designs, including the Vauxhall Mokka and Nissan Juke.
A kind of magic
The price paid for it elegant C-pillar, of course, is reduced practice. Trunk capacity with the rear seats up is 304 litres: no better than the little Jazz. I hear my mother talking from here.
For the HR-V’s defense, it borrows the Jazz’s ingenious Magic Seats, with bases that flip up to provide floor-to-roof storage for tall items. “Perfect for transporting lime trees home from the garden centre”, apparently.
Elsewhere, the Honda is less radical inside than out. Its most interesting feature is the L-shaped corner vents, which blow hot or cold air along the sides of the cabin, rather than blowing it in your face. The build quality is excellent, as you’d expect, and the contact points on my mid-range HR-V Advance were trimmed in tactile synthetic leather.
All versions feature an intuitive 9.0-inch central touchscreen, which connects wirelessly to your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Priced at £27,960, the HR-V’s standard equipment includes heated front seats, automatic windscreen wipers and LED headlights. It also has all the driver-assist technologies you would expect, such as lane assist, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and a rear view camera.
Easy to drive and easy to live with, backed by Honda’s proven reliability record, the HR-V makes a compelling case for itself.
Me? I would save £8000 and buy the Equally practical jazz, then have an F40 for the weekends. Maybe Jeremy and I can both be right.
Tim Pitt writes for Automotive research
THE PRICE: £29,220
TOP SPEED: 106mph
FUEL ECONOMY: 52.3mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS: 122g/km