The Honda HR-V RS has been around since 2018, but is it still a good buy in 2021/2022?
The Honda HR-V was first introduced to the Malaysian market back in early-2015 and went on to be a sales success for Honda Malaysia. In 2018, Honda introduced the HR-V RS, a beefed-up version of the HR-V, which from an exterior point of view, came with larger 18-inch wheels, RS-specific front grille, bumpers and blacked-out wing mirrors.
Although It might seem like the RS is just a beautified variant of the regular HR-V, there's something in the top-spec HR-V that its brothers do not have. That is one of the key reasons why the 2021 HR-V RS is a top dog urban vehicle and one of the best crossovers in the market that can pretty much do it all.
But first, let's get reacquainted with the 2021 HR-V RS.
As we said before, the 2021 HR-V RS comes with 18-inch wheels, RS-specific front grille and bumpers and blacked-out wing mirrors. Truthfully, if it weren't for the RS badge at the rear, you would be none the wiser that the RS is different from the V variant.
The RS, however, is all about subtle styling, and understated looks that ooze class. It's not about being shouty because the RS-specific body parts definitely give it a more aggressive yet polished look. A closer inspection will probably be the only way you would recognise this, but we like its subtle approach to sporty styling.
As with all HR-Vs, the RS' interior is all about mixing practicality with style. When it first debuted, the interior was definitely refreshing but compared to newer crossovers which just debuted around a year ago, it has to be said that the HR-V's interior does feel a bit dated. With that said, there's still nothing wrong with the interior design, it's just a bit of a plain jane - but it does give off the impression that it is well put together and will probably withstand the test of time.
The bottom part of the rear seats can be folded up to provide more space for carrying tall cargo
Being a car that was built to be versatile, the HR-V comes with Honda's famed ULTRA Seats, which really does give the HR-V capabilities to carry tall items. This really does give it an edge over its competitors, which mostly have typical folding seats. Initially, the RS variant came with an ivory coloured interior, but Honda changed this to black in 2019, which was definitely a welcoming move.
Despite giving you all that is needed from an entertainment point of view, we have our reservations with the infotainment head unit itself as it has complicated menu sets, a low-resolution screen, and excessive screen glare. But like we said before, it does what it says on the tin, so not a big deal really.
The seats are nicely padded and supportive and are a nice place to be in, even for extended periods of driving. Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) levels are also good; there's little road noise or tyre roar heard inside the cabin on a decent road. Hitting bigger bumps or potholes can sometimes introduce a 'thud' inside the cabin, but most of the cars in this segment do that.
Having spent some considerable time with the crossover – nicely split between highway and inner-city driving – we can vouch for the comfort levels of the HR-V RS despite it having larger wheels. The suspension is soft, pretty much like all other Honda's that are made to mainly tackle urban environments, but it still has decent dynamics in the corners.
Speaking of urban environments, remember we said earlier that the RS has something that its brothers do not have? Well, that thing is called a Variable Gear Ratio (VGR) steering system, an advanced steering system that automatically customises the amount of steering angle and gear ratio based on speed. At low speeds, the system is engineered to provide tighter steering angles for better car control.
The VGR steering system can increase its steering angle at higher speeds, making it less sensitive to minor steering corrections, thus making it easier and more relaxing to drive for longer distances. This is one of the key reasons why the RS Variant is a good all-rounder.
In slow city traffic, the steering is fast, while on high-speed drives like on the highway, the steering is slow. Yes, to some it might not seem like a big deal, but it really does turn the HR-V into a better car. No wonder when we took it on a short slalom course it excelled over its competitors.
Performance-wise, the HR-V RS carries over the pre-facelift's 1.8-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine, churning out 142 PS and 172 Nm of torque to the front wheels via a CVT-type automatic. It might not feel torquey, but a simple pedal to the metal in S mode will get it going, the performance being more than adequate for daily driving.
Another thing that is adequate is the RS's safety equipment. The RS variant does not get Honda's suite of advanced safety systems, Honda Sensing, but it does come with the ever-useful LaneWatch and regular active safety systems such as anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control and electronic brake distribution.
The LaneWatch might sound like a gimmick, but trust us when we say it has been more than helpful on many different occasions.
With all that being said, is the Honda HR-V RS still relevant in 2021 and possibly in 2022? Well, if you want a fuss-free vehicle that can do it all and you don't mind it comes with a classy looking but plain-ish interior, then the Honda HR-V RS will perfectly serve you and satisfy most of your needs.
The ride is pliant, the handling changes according to speed, the comfort is top-notch and the styling is on point. What is there really not to like about the HR-V RS?
2021 Honda HR-V RS Specifications:
- Price: RM 118,581
- Engine: 1.8-litre, SOHC i-VTEC, inline four-cylinder
- Power: 142 PS @ 6,500 rpm
- Torque: 172 Nm @ 4,300 rpm
- Transmission: CVT-type automatic, front-wheel drive
- Safety: 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Vehicle Stability Control, LaneWatch