Honda HR-V RS Review - Harvey with added bite?

 

What’s currently the best selling Honda here? Well a good guess would be the CR-V as it’s in the best selling medium SUV segment but you’d be wrong. CR-V runs Jazz a close second. Over 1300 customers have purchased a Jazz this year compared with just over 1100 CR-V buyers. Next most popular in the Honda stable is the HR-V which is based on Jazz architecture, though it gets a bigger engine.

Words: Peter Louisson   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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Honda retailed 700 before Spring sprung and, to complete the numbers game, they’d moved 459 Civics by Winter’s end. It’s a class that’s not doing so great, as people generally want a compact SUV instead.

Higher riding, easier ingress, and a bit more practicality are the obvious allures, all for similar money. HR-V has just had a refresh, three years on from its relaunch. There’s also a new model, the one you see here, the RS. It gets the exact same engine as the Civic Type R. Calm down, just making sure you’re still awake.

Powering it is the same eco-oriented 105kW/172Nm 1.8-litre four as the rest of the range gets. So it’s kind of a faux RS much like the Jazz variant is. Cue a spring and damper revamp, more direct steering and sexier exterior, but no added venom. This RS even runs on eco rubber.

if you want something a bit more open road worthy than other HR-Vs then the RS is the one you should consider.

The HR-V RS, despite a rethink of the CVT workings, still works itself into a lather cracking 10sec getting from zero to a hundred. But it now does that with steps that you might liken to gear changes if you didn’t know better.

The CVT works fine, and functions quite well with atmo engines that don’t do much in the way of torque until middling revs. In this case, it doesn’t really get brimming until about 4500rpm. But with a pull back on the gear lever at 100km/h into the S position, presumably for Speed, the engine ramps up from 1800 to almost double that and is ready and up for an overtake, so long as there’s 200m of clear space ahead.

You can also take to paddling this wee beasty but merely swapping between D and S is generally sufficient.

The engine isn’t one of Honda’s more stunning efforts, wailing away at high revs and being a single cammer a bit slow to rev.


But it does the business economically and that’s not always the case in this sector. A claimed average of 6.7L/100km is easy enough to achieve, and in this taxing time of expensive fuel it’s nice to fill up on 91 instead of the more costly spirit.

Moreover, the engine actually does beaver away quite nicely outside of its rowdy zone, pulling with intent from about 3000rpm. So all in all, minor drivetrain updates seem worthwhile.

Is it the same for the changes to the underpinnings? Their effect is about as profound, but at least the ride isn’t ruined. It’s not plush like some in the area are. Push on in the RS and you mainly end up with tyre squeal and understeer because of the eco rubber fitted. Turn in is a bit sharper but you do notice some kickback at times, and some body roll.

But if you want something a bit more open road worthy than other HR-Vs then the RS is the one you should consider.

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The best bit though remains the practicality of this compact high rider. Like Jazz the fuel tank is under the front seats, so the hatch space (437L) is up there with the best in class and the ‘Magic seats’ permit fully flat split folding.

Lift the rear door, remove the fabric cargo cover and you’ve a minivan of space for carting what-have-you, 1533 litres if you load to the roofline.

Other changes? Seats are now said to be more comfy, and indeed they are, despite no lumbar adjustability (not needed). A safety update sees city AEB added (City-Brake Active), the bumpers and grille are different, and auto-levelling LED headlights make an appearance.

The RS model is distinguished by a distinctive black chrome sports grille up front, and gloss black bodykit highlights, like mirror caps. Standard spec includes sat nav, heated leather seats, single zone air, cruise, sports pedals and wheel, the Lane Watch camera which is invaluable for lane changes on the motorway, comfort entry and pushbutton start, and 18-inch alloys.

The resolution of the seven-inch touch screen leaves a bit to be desired. And there’s no Android or CarPlay functionality. For this, you pay $37,500. And the hot orange colour option is gratis. A base model HR-V is available for $29,990 plus ORC.

The Stats

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Model Honda HR-V RS  Price $37,500

Engine 1799cc, IL4, EFI, 105kW/172Nm

Transmission CVT, front-wheel drive

Vitals 9.81sec 0-100km/h, 6.7L/100km, 154g/km, 1334kg

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