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Driven: 2021 Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.

Driven: 2021 Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV
Honda's new hybrid crossover isn't as polished as its predecessor.


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2021 Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV

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The Honda HR-V has been through substantial changes since it first arrived in the late 1990s. Once a chunky, high-riding SUV, it soldiered on until 2006 before quietly skulking off, only to return as a more modern crossover almost a decade later. Now that surprisingly capable car has been replaced by an even more up-to-date hybrid SUV designed to rival the Toyota C-HR and Renault Captur. But can the new, more electrified HR-V be as competitive as its predecessor?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV
Pricing: From £31,155
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol Ďi-MMDí hybrid
Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 122g/km
Combined economy: 58.2mpg
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
Power: 131hp
Torque: 253Nm
Boot space: 319 - 1,305 litres

What's this?

Itís the new HR-V, which follows on from its predecessor as a rival to the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and any other compact SUV you can think of. The catch is that it isnít quite as successful as its forebear, which turned out to be quite a nifty bit of kit. It drove well, it was reliable and the engine range was pretty strong. The 1.6-litre diesel was particularly good. But the days of compact diesel cars are numbered and Honda has moved with the times, creating a new hybrid crossover for the modern age. Or so the theory goes.

On the surface, the new HR-V looks pretty good. It has a modern front end with a vertical grille and narrow lights, while thereís a coupe-ish slant to the rear window. Itís like a tick list of industry buzzwords, right down to the Ďhiddení door handles at the rear and the off-road-inspired skid plate-effect trim on the bumpers. The result is almost handsome in a bland, forgettable kind of way. Nobodyís going to call it offensive, but nor will they leave thinking ĎI wish my car looked like thatí.

The interior is similar in many ways. The design is quite fresh and modern Ė thereís lots of empty space and a nice sweep to the dashboard design Ė but itís quite dark in there. Thereís a lot of austere black plastic enlivened only by a couple of chrome details and the central infotainment screen, about which more later. Build quality is as youíd expect from Honda, with some hard materials bolted together really securely. It doesnít always feel especially premium, but you know itíll last the course.

Itís a relatively spacious cabin, too, with sufficient head- and leg-room in the back for two adults to remain fairly comfortable. Itís certainly big enough for children, and it comes with so-called Ďmagic seatsí, which can fold conventionally to increase boot space or flip up to turn the second row into a tall storage bay. Itís ideal for carrying taller items such as plants.

Generally speaking, however, the HR-Vís load-carrying capacity isnít that spectacular. Thereís 319 litres of boot space, plus another 16 litres under the floor. Thatís less space than you get in a VW Golf and much less than youíll get in a Seat Arona, which doesnít bode especially well for the HR-V. But 319 litres is enough for shopping and school runs, and if you fold the back seats down youíll find around 1,300 litres of space, which is as much as most people will ever need.

In better news, the HR-V comes with plenty of standard equipment, including a rear-view camera, front and rear parking sensors and heated front seats. You get keyless entry and start, too, not to mention the nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Stolen from the Jazz, itís hardly the sexiest screen on the market, and it isnít especially clever, but the menus are clear and the display is functional, while the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay means it can be made to work quite well. Itís certainly an improvement on the old HR-Vís clunky touchscreen.

Our Advance-specification test car came with even more equipment, including a heated steering wheel and a hands-free power tailgate, while the top-of-the-range Advance Style gets a two-tone roof, roof rails and wireless phone charging.

How does it drive?

The HR-Vís powertrain is similar to that of the smaller Jazz supermini, in that it combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to create a Ďself-chargingí hybrid. That means the battery can be topped up by energy recuperation from braking and by using the engine as a power station. Then, when the engine is under light loads, it can be switched off and its burden can be shouldered by the electric motor.

In theory, the system allows the HR-V to save fuel and reduce emissions, but it also gives the car a little power boost when necessary, allowing a maximum output of 131hp and 253Nm of torque. That isnít massive, but itís enough for an unremarkable 10.7-second 0-62mph time and an equally unremarkable top speed of 106mph.

Perhaps more importantly, it means the HR-V emits just 122g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, and it returns almost 60mpg on the official economy test. We managed well over 50mpg during our time with the car and we werenít really trying. Drive with an eye on economy and weíd expect some journeys to top the 60mpg mark.

Driving economically will also allow your eardrums some respite from the din that 1.5-litre engine creates. The i-MMD hybrid system is quite refined in the Jazz, but all hell breaks loose any time you so much as suggest the HR-V should accelerate. Small throttle inputs suddenly seem to make the gearbox panic, and the revs jump to an uncomfortably high level. As does the sound emitted. We know Honda can make a good hybrid system because itís done it in the Jazz and the CR-V, but the HR-V is not a triumph.

Itís at its best around town, where the electrical assistance takes a surprising amount of the strain, and the petrol engine is rarely under much load. Decent visibility and light steering also help, while the CVT gearbox takes some of the stress out of driving in traffic.

But on faster roads, the HR-V is a let-down. It isnít as entertaining as a Puma or an Arona, but nor is it as comfy as a Citroen C3 Aircross or a Peugeot 2008. The middle ground isnít especially appealing, but then nor is it too off-putting. For most customers, handling prowess will naturally be an irrelevance, but donít go expecting the comfort to be class-leading.

And if you want off-road capability, look elsewhere. The Honda doesnít come with all-wheel drive in any guise, and while itíll cope with most things if you fit winter tyres, this is no all-terrain weapon. But apart from a few notable exceptions, thatís also true of most of the Hondaís rivals.


The HR-V promises much, but ultimately delivers little. The i-MMD hybrid system that works so well in the Jazz and CR-V feels lethargic and gutless in this SUV, and while those who just potter around town will find it acceptable, itís too raucous for longer drives. Itís a shame, because the design is quite smart, the interior is solid and the practicality is respectable. The HR-V just doesnít have the powertrain to back it all up, and thatís rare for a Honda.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 src="" width="10" height="10" border="0" alt="3.5" title="3.5" /> Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 4.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

2 2 2 2 2 Powertrain

James Fossdyke - 1 Jun 2022    - Honda road tests
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Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.

Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.Honda HR-V Advance e:HEV. Image by Honda.   


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