Skid Marks

Honda HR-V RS Navi 2019: summer feels

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There are so many clichés about summer, but they never get old. Summer represents youth, adventure, and excitement. Travel is best done during summer in the company of family and friends. And what better than to take an exciting out-of-town road trip during summer, the very essence of youthful energy?

Few vehicles are perfectly suited for this task, and they include the Honda’s HR-V. The compact crossover represents the youth’s adventurous, go (almost) anywhere, anytime ability, doused with sophistication its BR-V brethren lacks, while maintaining a sportier, more compact aura, versus the mommy-mobile CR-V.

The HR-V’s pricing is tricky, as it falls in-between the BR-V and CR-V, and even closer to Honda Civic category. Normally, this would make it even less appealing, as I’d often tell people to buy the most car they can buy as they will be happier in the long-run. So I consulted a pair of fresh eyes with no stereotypes or labels, but someone I trusted. I consulted the missus.

The missus for a start, likes the size of the HR-V. She has no problem squeezing it into tight parking spaces, thanks to the reverse camera, too, of course. The fit and finish is excellent, leather covers most tactile surfaces, and there’s ample legroom front and back. A large 7-inch LCD touch-screen adorns the center console, the centerpiece of the multi-media navigation system that has both Apple Carplay and
Android Auto, making smartphone integration and syncing faster, easier and more intuitive. This feature is definitely a must for today’s technology-driven and digitally connected youth! But safety is as always of chief importance: the HR-V comes with dual airbags, ABS brakes with EBD, hill-start
assist and traction/stability control.

The rear cargo space is decent: more than enough to carry a day’s worth of grocery and market shopping, and adequate for a long drive/out-of-town weekend adventure.

So, we took the HR-V on our usual weekend drive down south to Tagaytay City for the weekend to enjoy cooler climes. The HR-V, with its 1.8 liter R18 SOHC engine delivered a steady pace thanks to its 140 horsepower and 172 Nm of torque. The CVT transmission needs some getting used to: the engine sound is quite banal, lacking the operatic punch of its twin-cam and larger displacement siblings. When matched with the CVT’s eagerness at times to hold onto a steady high RPM, the engine note sounds awfully strained and worse, the engine feels equally strained and underpowered. Flapping the paddles behind the 3-spoke steering wheel for some manual override control would help, and gives one a bit more confidence behind the wheel in tough situations, such as overtaking slow-moving vehicles on a tight mountain pass or attacking a downhill route without relying too much on your brakes and utilizing engine braking.

My wife previously complained about the pre-facelift HR-V’s harsh, knobbly ride. The previous test unit was loaded with Honda Modulo accessories which included a huge wheel-tire combination. Our test unit now rides on smaller 17-inch wheels shod with Dunlop’s chunky ENASAVE EC3000 eco tires sized 215/55R17. The ride was definitely softer, smoother and more comfortable. Honda hasn’t said anything official, but it seems like the bushings and other joints now utilize a different rubber durometer or stiffness to reduce NVH and
improve comfort.

Seating position, as with any Honda is excellent: steering wheel lines up to your arms and shoulders perfectly, there’s good space up front for big boys like me, with excellent visibility. Even after 2-3 hours behind the wheel of the HR-V, you feel relaxed and refreshed. The brakes, though soft, offer excellent modulation and feel, and the light steering is fluid and confidence-inspiring. It understeers when pushed, but the torsion beam rear axle is surprisingly pliant and obedient until the limits are exceeded well beyond what’s safe on public roads.

Personally, the HR-V lacks any really strong, compelling arguments to win it any favors. It lacks the CR-V’s ultra-modern and stylish interior and impressive diesel engine. It’s also more expensive than the bargain BR-V which answers all of the HR-V’s arguments, at a lower price tag, albeit with less refinement and sophistication. But the perfectly packaged balance of size, features, style and decent driving dynamics, not to mention very respectable fuel consumption (8km/liter in the city, ~14km/liter on our southern trips) makes it a top choice for people wanting a youthful, sophisticated image without screaming family man (or mom), value the HR-V’s compact dimensions in the tight urban jungle, yet want the ability to go further than a typical sedan can and will take them, and crucially, are ever faithful to the Honda badge.
On a long drive, the HR-V is effortlessly painlessly easy to drive for long periods of time. If you’re a keen driver, this might not sound appealing. But when you’re travelling far and long with friends, good easy company, including your car is important to fully enjoy the trip! That, for me, is why the HR-V is a perfect summer outing car!



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