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

Driven: Honda HR-V e:HEV
What the devil has happened to Honda’s once-likeable HR-V compact crossover?


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Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5

It's not often you get a downgrade these days when it comes to technology - think taking Concorde out of the skies and not replacing it with any form of supersonic aviation - but after spending a week with the third-generation HR-V in its grandest specification, we can't help but feel that this compact crossover has regressed from the likeable, if staid, Mk2 version.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style
Price: HR-V range from £30,695, e:HEV Advance Style £36,265 as tested
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder i-MMD hybrid petrol with 96kW electric motor
Transmission: eCVT (electronic continuously variable transmission), front-wheel drive
Power: petrol 107hp at 6,000-6,400rpm, electric 131hp, quoted system max 131hp
Torque: petrol 131Nm at 4,500-5,000rpm, electric 253Nm, quoted system max 253Nm
Emissions: 122g/km
Economy: 52.3mpg
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
Top speed: 106mph
Boot space: 320-1,290 litres


Blandly inoffensive, would be the best way of describing the Honda HR-V e:HEV. This ties it in with the Japanese company's current two larger crossover-SUVs, the ZR-V and the CR-V, and there's no doubting the car it replaced was aesthetically safe to the nth degree, but apart from the sloping tailgate, those three bands of colour nestled in the top corner of its radiator grille and the option of a contrast roof finish (these latter two items specific to this range-topping Advance Style specification), there's little to make the Mk3 HR-V stand out. It's not ugly. It's not eye-catching. It just... is.


When you open the HR-V's door and gaze upon the cabin for the first time, your hopes for the Honda crossover begin to rise. It looks very impressive, especially with the light grey synthetic leather and fabric upholstery, because this brings creamy panels of fake hide on all of the outer bolsters of the seats, the main fascia, the door cards and every armrest up front. It gives a lovely light-and-shade ambience, and makes the Honda's interior look very upmarket and swish.

Ergonomically, there are no complaints with the main layout of the switchgear and so on, either, and Honda keeps a physical bank of climate controls for you to play with, so that's a major bonus. But the minute you start operating stuff, and prodding here and there, and generally running your hands over a few of the surfaces, the HR-V's swanky-looking cabin starts to feel a bit cheap. Those 'knurled' controls for the air vents, for instance, are rather clacky and plasticky, while a few times we pressed the central infotainment touchscreen, the whole surround for it flexed alarmingly. The old HR-V's interior was far less visually adventurous than this one, then, but conversely it felt much better built. Hmm.


The HR-V e:HEV isn't too bad on this score, as space in the second row is fairly generous for this class of crossover. Two adults should be comfortable back there, in terms of leg- and headroom, and the Honda crossover is also the beneficiary of the company's clever 'Magic Seats' in the second row, which easily allow for the transportation of smaller items as their squabs fold up to enlarge the footwells considerably. Interestingly, the aesthetically similar e:Ny1 electric vehicle from Honda - which the Japanese outfit insists, no, most strenuously insists isn't just a zero-emissions HR-V with a different front grille/headlight arrangement - doesn't benefit from these, so that's a nice touch for the e:HEV.

However, a 320-litre boot isn't even very impressive for a supermini hatchback these days, never mind a compact family crossover. It's therefore a shame the HR-V doesn't have quite a bit more cargo capacity to go with its in-cabin space.


More marks off for the Honda here. What's absolutely baffling us is that we've tried this 1.5-litre-based e:HEV drivetrain in the Jazz supermini and in that car, it's a little jewel of a thing. It's smooth, it's quiet, it doesn't ever grate on your nerves and it provides a surprising amount of go for the little runaround - as one incredibly irate Mercedes E-Class driver in Bracknell will attest to following our first drive of it in the UK.

Somehow, in the transition to the larger HR-V - which you'd imagine would have greater capacity in its hidden nooks and crannies (steady...) to have even more sound-deadening - this i-MMD hybrid propulsion system seems to have lost nearly every last bit of its refinement. Goodness, this is a loud drivetrain, and not in a good way either.

In 2024, we're long past the point where the three letters 'CVT' automatically mean a hideous cacophony of metallic threshing noises will erupt the minute you ask for a car fitted with said gearbox for anything more than, ooh, 50 per cent throttle, say. Yet Honda is clearly nostalgic for the bad old days, because the HR-V's drivetrain is unbelievably coarse if you need to use some smart acceleration. It shrieks at you with a harsh, rasping blare and of course this eCVT just holds maximum revs for seconds after ear-splitting seconds of din. If you even dare to think about taking a 50-50 gap in traffic or going for a quick A-road overtake, you will find the HR-V's powertrain deeply unpleasant.

Like older CVT-equipped petrol-electric powertrains, it's much more tolerable being driven at a far more leisurely pace... which is good news, because the HR-V never feels even remotely approaching quick. If there's 253 Newton metres genuinely being served up by the hybrid gear at any point in the Honda, we'd be phenomenally surprised. A glacial 10.7-second 0-62mph time only tells half of the story; this is not an electrified vehicle with any significant degree of low-down, instant-torque thump.

However, some good news: no matter how you drive the HR-V e:HEV, you'll get 50mpg from it all day long. We saw 51.3mpg across 472 miles covering the full gamut of country-lane cruising, higher A-roads speeds and longer motorway hacks. So the economical claims of this petrol-electric running gear are not to be sniffed at, it would seem.

Ride & Handling

We'd cut the HR-V some more slack here if it were particularly comfortable and subdued to drive in normal duties, which is definitely something we could say of the model it has replaced. But the e:HEV is not. Along with the raucous drivetrain and the cheap-feeling cabin finishing, any premium lustre the Honda is attempting to accrue is further dulled by above average levels of tyre chatter, notable wind noise around the cabin and suspiciously noisy suspension. It actually doesn't ride too badly, although it's also nowhere near class-leading in the levels of its shock absorption, yet you're so acutely aware of mechanical sounds and external noise contributors that you'll consider its rolling refinement sub-standard.

And it's certainly no great shakes in the corners, either. The body leans more than many other crossovers in this class - precious few of which are what you could ever call 'exciting' to drive, by the way - and the steering is too light and too feel-free to strike up any meaningful rapport with the Honda's chassis. In the old HR-V range, Honda did a bizarre yet weirdly superb 182hp pseudo-performance version called the Sport; we have absolutely no desire for the company to repeat the process with this current model, though.


As an Advance Style, the HR-V comes with lots of standard equipment for its asking price. This is good - you'll enjoy things like front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, keyless entry and go, the nine-inch Honda Connect touchscreen infotainment, heated front seats and steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, two-tone exterior paintwork, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, and much, much more, including a truly admirable array of safety gear.

The problem is that you'll pay a lot for the privilege. Our test car was £36,265 and not only did it never feel anything near worth that steep asking price, it just looks barmy in the face of some of the talented opposition - even if you start talking about PCP monthlies, or trying to say the HR-V will suffer less depreciation, or maybe claiming that Honda is a premium brand which justifies a significant price premium.

With the HR-V range starting from more than £30,000 for any model, the Ford Puma looks a bargain with an asking price as low as £25,640. It's nicer to drive, has sweeter drivetrains, the interior feels more solid, it's quieter and more comfortable on the move, and you can even have the 170hp automatic ST for around the same price as a basic e:HEV.

Then there's the classy Volkswagen T-Cross, which kicks off at £23,695. A similar 1.5-litre hybrid crossover from Japan is the excellent Toyota Yaris Cross and that's available from £24,855. The Peugeot 2008, visually speaking, knocks spots off the Honda inside and out, and it's priced from £24,170 here. Even the fully electric E-2008 can be had for as little as £36,500. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the competitors which eclipse the Honda e:HEV in many different regards, so sadly the HR-V just looks way too expensive for what it is.


We're really disappointed with the Honda HR-V. What was formerly a very capable, if admittedly somewhat safe, compact crossover that could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with rival machines appears to have been replaced by something that isn't that striking to look at, has a cabin which isn't up to Honda's usual high finishing standards, and - worst of all - seems to bear none of the engineering genius for which this Japanese company is so rightly renowned. In other words, Honda can do a damned sight better than this. More expensive they understandably are, but both the ZR-V and CR-V are considerably more competitive in their respective classes than this HR-V is. Frankly, there are a lot better B-segment crossovers out there you can buy than this Honda, so try one of those instead.

Matt Robinson - 25 Jan 2024    - Honda road tests
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2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.

2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.2024 Honda HR-V e:HEV Advance Style. Image by Honda.


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