Honda HR-V e:HEV – A convenient choice

The third generation of the Honda HR-V compact SUV comes with sleek styling and the only drive option in the form of the e:HEV hybrid system. The initial skepticism disappeared very quickly, because the drive itself confirmed the qualities of this popular model with a long tradition. We had at our disposal an embellished Advance Style version with a hybrid system and an automatic e-CVT transmission.

Older generations (such as me) certainly still remember the first Honda HR-V sold in the years 1998-2006, which stood out above all for its angular shapes and interesting 2-door concept. A very long pause followed, after which the second generation version arrived in 2014.

The boxy design was replaced by round and, for that time, rather futuristic shapes. Honda returned from the SUV segment to the compact crossover segment, and we liked the HR-Včka not only because of the turbocharged 1.5 in the Sport version, but also because of its great driving characteristics and dynamically cut expression.

And the appearance is supposed to be a strong point of the new design. But he wants to show his friendlier face. That's why the HR-V got simple, clean lines without unnecessary embellishments. The smooth surfaces are also reflected in the style of the unique radiator grille in body color. In the radiator grill we find the French tricolor and… it's supposed to be like that and it's something with EV and the like… well then. The world is a strange place.

From the side, a silhouette with horizontal lines stands out – an elongated hood, a flat roof or a molding flowing from the front lights to the rear ones. Thanks to the massive sides, narrow glazing and significantly inclined rear glass, the vehicle looks robust and sporty. Just like the previous version, the novelty also has rear handles hidden in the column, so it looks like a two-door SUV-coupe, and many a person installing it will wonder where to open the door.

The cabin of the novelty is also much more organized and sleek compared to the archaically equipped previous generation. The simply shaped dashboard looks fresh and light thanks to the horizontal division.

The cabin is now more polished and the free-standing screen of the multimedia system in the middle is accompanied by classic rotary controls for temperature adjustment. There are also physical buttons needed to heat the seats. On the other hand, there are not too many buttons on the steering wheel itself, so you can use them after a few kilometers even with a blind person.

The infotainment itself has more modern graphics, menu navigation is fast, and I was especially pleased with the wireless smartphone connection via Apple CarPlay (Android Auto is still only via cable). The seven-inch digital instrument panel is also nice, with a high-quality image and countless driving data that you can view in the left alarm clock area. Lane keeping is activated with every start, but can be easily deactivated (hello Peugeot).

In the front, the typically Honda softer and more comfortable seats will also make you happy. In terms of space, the wider cabin offers more space for all passengers. In the back, I also praise the extension of the cabin in the longitudinal direction, so I have so much space in front of my knees that even a Superb would be pale with envy. Of course, the flexible rear row of Magic Seats is great, with the possibility of creating a flat bed surface and also the possibility of folding the seats upwards, which makes it possible to transport particularly tall objects inside. After all, the previous generation and Jazz models also had this element.

On the other hand, the volume of the luggage compartment is less positive. The current 335 liters, which also includes the box under the floor, is significantly less than the previous 448 liters. The reduction goes to the battery of the hybrid system located in the rear. Otherwise, the trunk is perfectly shaped, and after folding the seats to a completely flat position (by the way, you can also carry almost everything from the back of the trunk with one hand movement).

But let's finally get to the most important thing. For European customers, the new Honda HR-V is available exclusively as a hybrid. The basis of the drive system is the same as in the current Jazz model – an atmospheric 1500 working in the Atkinson cycle. Here, however, it improved from the original 72 to 79 kW, and the electric motor received an increase in power from 80 to 96 kW. The torques of 131 Nm for the combustion engine and 253 Nm for the electric motor remain identical. The power of the system is given in the TP as the power of the electric motor, i.e. 96KW – 131k.

The internal combustion engine is used almost exclusively for recharging the battery with a capacity of 1.08 kWh, and at higher speeds it can drive the wheels directly through a permanent gear. The gearbox labeled e-CVT has a permanent gear for both the combustion engine and the electric motor, and has nothing in common with the classic variator apart from the designation. The electric motor takes care of the drive at lower speeds, the car itself starts moving, for example, when a gentle acceleration is needed. If you need more intensive acceleration, the combustion engine also runs at the same time, which "tops up" the battery via the generator. The atmospheric unit directly spins the wheels from a speed of 70 km/h, because at lower speeds this would not be possible due to the constant transmission of both engines.

Even though it may sound like an overly complex piece of technology according to the description, the driver will notice only minimal differences compared to the classic drive in the finale. Switching between individual modes is automatic, and the driver can only influence the intensity of recuperation – by engaging "B" or levers under the steering wheel. Which is a bit of a shame that HR-Včko can't sail. After a week and a thousand kilometers, consumption stabilized at 5.6 l/100 km, which is a decent value for this size car, which is quite close to the manufacturer's stated 5.4 l/100 km according to the WLTP cycle.

But the profile of the road rises and there is a long climb ahead of us. To keep up the pace, I have to press harder on the gas and the engine revs increase, along with the noise from under the hood. Full throttle when overtaking means considerable whine of the naturally aspirated engine, and the noise reduction of the undercarriage is not the best either, because the rougher road immediately manifests itself in a strong rolling hum. At the same time, the driving performance of the HR-V is again among the best compact SUVs. The chassis floats smoothly over a straight road, cuts corners precisely and without tilting the body.

The chassis, however, typically has a stiffer tuning, and that's why our broken districts can give it a hard time. Every now and then, a fairly significant bang is heard from the wheels. A smaller wheel size, or at least tires with a higher profile, could help. However, neither of these is possible for the new HR-V, as the prescribed wheels and tires with size 225/50 R18 are the only ones to choose from.

The novelty also has extended safety equipment, for example, automatic driving in convoys, a system for descending steep hills, a large information display in the instrument panel, keyless entry and starting. The new HR-V is equipped with Honda Sensing technology for the first time, which includes a comprehensive range of leading safety technologies and driver aids in this class.

The system has received improvements, including a new wide-angle front-facing camera with higher resolution, as well as high-speed image processing chips that improve on the previous camera and radar sensor combination. It also includes improved night-time operation of the Pedestrian Collision Mitigation Management System and the Car Collision Mitigation System (CMBS), which now detects oncoming vehicles crossing the car's path, including cyclists and motorcycles, and activates braking.

The new Honda HR-V is quite a surprise. While at the beginning it seemed to us to be non-greasy and unsalted, we came to like it very quickly. The only thing that could discourage a potential customer is the price, which starts at €28,490. It may seem quite high at first, but once you find out what it all entails, you'll understand. Basically, you get practically all the necessary equipment and literally an army of security assistants. The days when they didn't have cars or air conditioning are long gone. In the tested version of Advance Style, which starts at €33,490, you actually only pay an extra €600 for the metallic finish.

The Honda HR-V e:HEV left only positive impressions after a week of testing, and just like the new Jazz, I can't shake the feeling of total well-being it brings to everyone on board. Compared to the second generation, a significant shift can be seen above all in terms of interior design, and there is also an effort to be a bit more premium. The hybrid drive, as the only engine choice, is tuned to almost complete perfection.

Although the new Honda HR-V is not a car for everyone thanks to its drive concept, it certainly deserves our recommendation.

You can find more photos in the gallery: HONDA HR-V e:HEV