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Date: 11 Mar 2019 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
The Honda HR-V Urban Crossover, which forms part of Honda Motor Southern Africa's model range, was first launched locally in 2015 and slots in perfectly between the larger CR-V and the more compact BR-V. For the 2019 model year, the HR-V benefits from a significant upgrade program, and the new model can be recognized by its all-new front and rear styling, enhanced interior and upgraded equipment levels. The updated HR-V model range still offers a choice of Comfort and Elegance trim levels, as well as 1.5-litre and 1.8-litre drivetrains, featuring Honda's i-VTEC technology and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gearboxes. Our test car today is the 1.8-litre featuring Honda's i-VTEC technology and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

While the silhouette of the latest Honda Urban Crossover remains unmistakably HR-V, the front end has undergone several significant updates, featuring Honda's latest 'solid wing face', which incorporates an all-new front bumper, a reprofiled bonnet, and redesigned headlights. The more aggressive front bumper design includes; a new license plate garnish, as well as recessed apertures for LED fog lamps which are standard on the 1.8 Elegance model. The new headlights feature LED elements and LED daytime running lights on the Elegance version. There are also updates to the rear of the HR-V. The taillight clusters gain a smoked appearance, while the license plate garnish has also been redesigned to match the front's more aggressive styling approach. Also, standard is the twin aluminum roof rails, and the sharkfin antenna. The 1.8 Elegance press vehicle comes with new, 5-arm 17-inch alloy wheels, which on the press vehicle were fitted with Yokohama 215/55R17 tyres, that impart a sporting and contemporary design in line with its flagship status.

On the inside, the new Honda HR-V Elegance gets smart perforated leather upholstery with double-contrast stitching. The interior retains Honda's unique Magic Seat System which allows exceptional space utilization. The Magic Seat system is made possible by the HR-V's centrally located fuel tank, which allows a flat rear cabin floor. The split rear bench seat can be folded forward, conventionally to extend the 393-litre luggage compartment to a capacious 1 002 litres. However, the bench seat's squabs can also be raised, creating a central cargo area that is both tall and generous, making the loading of large, ungainly objects easy and convenient.

The new HR-V comes standard with a long list of comfort and convenience features which includes; keyless entry with push button start, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking, air-conditioning, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel and a multi-information trip computer. In addition, the HR-V's full-featured infotainment system is standard, which means that both Comfort and Elegance models now feature a 6.8-inch touch-screen display, instead of the 5-inch screen previously fitted to the Comfort version. The sophisticated infotainment system embraces extensive functions and features list, including Bluetooth-based hands-free telephony and audio streaming, extended connectivity via USB and HDMI, and smart device screen mirroring for access to device-specific functions, such as video and photo files, as well as GPS navigation. The system also incorporates a FM Stereo/AM radio tune and multi-speaker sound with multi-function controls, which makes using the system both safe and intuitive. The 1.8 Elegance model also comes with a rear-view parking camera linked to the parking sensors to make reverse parking more convenient.

The remainder of the comprehensive standard equipment list remains unchanged, including an electrically operated parking brake with auto hold that engages automatically after braking to a standstill, and then disengages when the accelerator is activated.

Safety remains an HR-V priority with a full complement of active and safety systems that includes; six airbags, vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, and emergency braking indicators. In active safety terms, the HR-V comes with ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist, Emergency Stop Signal activation, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, a high-mounted, third brake light and IsoFix child seat anchors.

The 1.8 Elegance CVT is propelled by Honda’s 1 799 cc four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC variable valve timing and electronic fuel injection. It produces 105 KW at 6 500 RPM and 172 NM at 4 300 RPM with the window sticker claiming a combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.8 litres/100 km coupled to 162 g/km of CO2 emissions. However, over the week I spent with the HR-V 1.8 which included a variety of roads, the trip computer gave me a reading of 8.3 litres per 100 km which is also good for a crossover.

Power is sent to the front wheels through a CVT gearbox which Honda say is designed to deliver a direct and linear response more akin to the characteristics of a manual gearbox, while shift paddles allow the driver to select gears manually for a more engaging driving experience. The software controlling the CVT simulates seven virtual gears and optimizes gear changes to match individual driving styles and specific driving conditions. In acceleration tests, leaving the CVT transmission in D-mode, it did the 0 to 100 km dash in 10.66 seconds, while top speed is given as 188 km/h. Petrol consumption is given as just 6.8 litres per 100 kms in the combined cycle. However, over the week I spent with the HR-V 1.8, which included a variety of roads, the trip computer gave me a reading of 8.4 litres per 100 km which is also good for a crossover.

At the outset, I can say that I have never been a fan of CVT transmissions as most, when under acceleration, feels as though the car has a slipping clutch. However, Honda’s CVT with their Earth Dreams technology in the new HR-V, is the best CVT I have ever experienced. However, when climbing hills or overtaking, it’s best to pre-select Sport mode, or use the steering wheel mounted paddles. Getting technical, the CVT utilizes the latest control logic to achieve a direct and linear response reminiscent of a manual gearbox, while the standard fit shift paddles allow for a manual override for an even more engaging driving experience. The updated control software simulates seven virtual gears, thus always making the most effective use of the engine's output. To Honda's credit, the responsiveness of the CVT was so good that most drivers wouldn’t miss not having a conventional automatic transmission.

The 1.8 engine is perky and gets the HR-V off the line quite quickly. In the morning rush hour traffic, the HR-V proved to be nimble and responsive, and a breeze to drive in town. The steering is nicely weighted and gives the driver a secure, sure-footed feeling and makes it easy to maneuver when parking or in confined spaces. On the open road, the Honda HR-V 1.8 rides like a larger, more expensive vehicle. It's nice and smooth over rough roads, and sudden dips don't upset the balance. The HR-V’s body stays level enough for a “sporty” drive and the ride is never rigid. Also, the engine seems to “love” being revved and cooperates with throttle inputs readily in regular driving scenarios. At a steady 120 km/h on the freeway the engine revs at just 2 100 RPM, and at that speed, the cab is well insulated from wind and road noise.

The recommended retail selling price for the Honda HR-V 1.8 Elegance CVT is R419 900, which includes a three-year / 100 000 km warranty, a four-year / 60 000 km service plan, and a one-year AA roadside assistance package. Services are at 15 000 km intervals.