Approximately two years ago, I had the privilege of sampling the much anticipated Honda HR-V in Thailand, roughly two months before it was due to be launched in Malaysia. All it took was a scenic drive down from Chiang Rai back into Chiang Mai, and a leisurely cruise within the city, roughly one hour of driving - I was smitten.
I was instantly impressed with the composed driving demeanor and edgy styling which blended nice SUV proportions as inspired by Honda’s ‘Exciting H’ design philosophy. The interior too was modern, extremely practical, and felt premium to the touch.
The ‘Ruse Black’ car you see on the left is owned by my family and has been a trusty workhorse for nearly two years now. It was so easy to live with and drive around town that we eventually sold the family’s BMW (E60) 5-Series, due to lack of usage.
The Tafetta White unit on the right is a 2017 Honda HR-V which I had the opportunity to test recently.
The big news for the 2017 model is the addition of the larger 17-inch 5-spoke alloys, and if I may say so myself - looks the business. The wheels are shod in Yokohama BluEarth E70 tyres, which have a 55 series aspect ratio versus the taller 60 series (Bridgestone Turanza tyres), which wrap the 16-inch wheels on the 2015 model.
Do note, however, the 2017 model is featured here with the optional Modulo body kit, which sharply enhances the outlook of Honda’s mid-size crossover.
After extensive driving in the 2017 HR-V recently, there was little difference to be felt in terms of ride comfort. The inherent comfort biased tuning of the suspension assured that regarding the bigger wheels and tyres, the driving experience remains mostly the same.
The Yokohama tyres, however, grip much better in the wet and more progressive at the limit in the dry than the Bridgestones, and manages to make the 2017 model a sharper steer.
Power comes from a 1.8-litre (R18) i-VTEC inline-four which outputs 140hp at 6,500rpm and 172Nm at 4,300rpm. The engine sends power to a CVT automatic driving the front wheels.
Performance isn’t blistering as you might expect, but it’s more than adequate to hustle along the highway or around town. The CVT auto is silky smooth in most all daily operation except for when one abruptly lifts off throttle – which induces a slight jerk.
On the economy front, it was surprising to note that the white HR-V returned a modest 8.8-litres/100km after some 500km of mostly urban driving. The figure is reflected on the family owned HR-V which, which frequently averages around 8.6- to 10.4-litres/100km.
Two years on, the 2017 HR-V draws similar conclusions to our in-depth review of the 2015 model. It's well-positioned in one of the most competitive segments currently, which also rivals other crossovers such as the Mitsubishi ASX and Mazda CX-3.
In this regard, the HR-V remains a triumph of packaging and pricing - echoed only by its runaway success.