Back in September, you might remember Honda showing off an interesting high-riding show vehicle at Auto China 2020 called the SUV e:concept. Despite its futuristic looks and a new twist in its design direction, this Honda looks almost finished and ready to hit the production line.
There were people even speculating that this could be the new HR-V though its 3-doors and coupe-like styling were in seeming contradiction with their popular do-it-all crossover’s core purpose. Earlier still, leaked patent filings by Honda revealed images showing a compact SUV with a very similar look.
Well, in any case, they were right, as the newest HR-V does indeed borrow plenty of design and foundational cues from that concept car from a few months ago. Pegged as a 2022 model, this HR-V (also called Vezel in markets like Japan) is indeed ‘all-new’ with pretty much everything about the crossover not being carried over from the previous generation.
Starting with the design, that bolder and more upright front end does somewhat resemble the “flying wing” nose from the Civic and new City, flanked on each side by a thinner and more angular LED headlight cluster topped off by a neat clamshell bonnet. Moving to its profile and we see a larger emphasis on a more lower-slung roofline for that ‘coupe’ effect. The HR-V’s characteristic hidden rear door handles make a return, however, which is a nice touch.
At the rear, Honda hops on the growing trend of including a full-width light bar to connect the left and right tail lights. Plenty of (useless) grey cladding surrounds the lower perimeter too, as is the norm with crossovers that have delusions of off-road adventures. And within those arches, those 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin tyres are showy, but certainly won’t help it sling mud.
Before we take in the interior, the real headline feature worth mentioning first is the powertrain. Honda has chosen to equip every HR-V (at least in Europe) with their e:HEV (i-MMD) technology, the same petrol engine and electric motor combo that’s coming to the City RS that was previewed last year.
Instead of the 1.5-litre i-VTEC in the range-topping B-segment sedan, we might also see the familiar 1.8-litre unit fitted. In both cases, the e:HEV (i-MMD) system will take power generated from the combustion engine to both replenish the onboard lithium-ion batteries as well as provide direct power to the electric traction motor that drives the wheels.
Honda has yet to spill the beans on exactly how many variants will be offered let alone the full spread of engines, which might include the more usual fare of standalone naturally aspirated units as well as the smaller displacement turbocharged ones - all driving the front wheels via a CVT. That said, it would be quite a statement to only offer them with the e:HEV hybrid drive across all global markets.
Inside, the HR-V’s cabin aims to be just as bold and advanced looking as the exterior while retaining most of the ergonomic traits that we’ve become used to seeing in recent Honda models. The steering wheel and gear selector look rather traditional, but the ‘floating’ infotainment display and HVAC controls below echo the new Accord. The A-pillars themselves look quite thin, maximising side visibility, while that wide air conditioning vent forms a visual bridge between them to square off the windscreen.
Fans of Honda’s supreme practicality will be glad to know the famed ‘Magic Seats’ also feature prominently and as standard. They also fold in a 40:60 split to reveal more boot spaced, accessed by a powered tailgate, which is also standard across the range, though other touches like a panoramic sunroof, LED ambient lighting, a ‘premium’ sound system, and Honda’s new Digital Key and smartphone access connectivity are dependent on the chosen grade.
Naturally, the latest Honda Sensing active safety suite is included as well on certain variants, adding Autonomous Emergency Braking with stop-go support, front and rear cross collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and a 360-degree camera system.
The HR-V is confirmed to begin its home market rollout first, hitting Japan as early as April before starting its European tour nearer to the end of 2021. With that in mind, it’s reasonable to expect a Malaysian introduction in early 2022.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.