2021 Honda HR-V e:HEV hybrid review: Will we start seeing some on the road?

RH reviews the HR-V e:HEV for DT

5d ago

The Honda HR-V is a bit of a funny one. We were chatting the other day and wondering how many we’d seen around on UK roads. It’s really not many. Civics. Loads. Jazzezez. Loads. But HR-Vs? We could probably count the amount we’ve seen on one hand.

It’s not really fair, but there are a lot of cars in the crossover segment where the HR-V is competing. And some really good ones: Ford Puma, Renault Captur, Cupra Formentor, Seat Arona, Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro, VW T-Roc, Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR, well, the list goes on...

Well, the HR-V is back, sporting a shiny hybrid powertrain, and a few jazzier bits. So will we start seeing more of them around?

The 2021 Honda HR-V is now only available as a hybrid: the super catchily named: HR-V e:HEV. It’s basically a more powerful version of the hybrid powertrain in the Jazz supermini. We told you it had some jazzier bits.

Have a look at that review by Tim Rodie right here.

Have you prepared yourself for the sexy stats? We’re talking 131 horsepower, and 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds. Ok, so that might not have set your heart racing, but let’s see if anything else can...

Is it one of those ‘self-charging’ hybrids? What’s it like?

Kinda, although it works differently to all the others you may be used to, and doesn’t have the planetary gearbox you’ll find in everyone’s favourite Uber-mobile: the Toyota Prius. Honda says it’s more efficient than the Toyota/Lexus setup (although in fairness to Honda, it didn’t mention those manufacturers by name… we’re just reeeeally good at guessing). It does mean you apparently get more e-power, or what feels like more e-power, from your HR-V e:HEV. The system combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, which drive the front wheels through a CVT gearbox.

We’ve already mentioned that you won’t get too excited by that 0-62mph speed, but it’s not made for that, and people looking to buy one of these won’t care about that either. It does feel a bit ‘meh’ while trying to eke out enough speed to launch it onto a German Autobahn though.

Starting off, everything is serene and silent. It’ll be nice and relaxing pootling off your drive and to your local shops no question.

But although the switch from electric to engine power feels seamless, ask for more power and the noise it makes is less seamless. Holy moly it’s a noise. If you boop the throttle just a fraction too hard, or you’re climbing a slight incline, or you’re on the motorway, or you’re on a nice windy road, well, the revs fling sky high and you can *hear* that engine. And it is loud. You’ll have to really ramp up the sound system to just about drown it out.

When it’s not yelling at you however, it’s perfectly pleasant and lovely. Just be careful with that right foot of yours. And stick to flat roads. And maybe off motorways?

We did manage to achieve just over 50mpg though, driving through a mix of cute German villages, slightly larger towns, twisty fun roads and some Autobahn. And that was trying out the three driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. We didn’t feel much difference between the three, but the engine was really making itself known to us in Sport mode.

And what’s it like to drive?

Well, it’s pretty good. The steering is direct and feels pointy, not too light or wishy washy. And it rides nicely too. It’s a little bit jittery around the little villages, and there’s a bit of roll in the corners, but it’s generally pretty tidy. Overall it’s definitely comfortable enough for most. Again, this is not a sporty car in any way, shape or form, but we think we've made that point pretty clear.

How practical is it and what’s the interior like?

Everything feels very well built and solid. The infotainment system has come a long way, and is a lot nicer to use now. It’s still a simple coloured-tile interface, but it’s sharper, more responsive, and easier to use. Of course, there’s Android Auto and wireless(!) Apple CarPlay too.

Inside, you feel perched quite high up, with a good view over the bonnet. There’s lots of odds and sods around the cabin for storing your bits and bobs, but if you really like hydration on the move, bigger bottles don’t fit in the cupholders.

The Advanced Style model we were in has some jazzy details, including some nicely designed striped seats, cream leather trims, and orange stitching on the steering wheel, as well as orange details around the gear shifter.

There’s space in the back for everyone, and the boot size is 316 litres. That is a quite significant 32% smaller than the last HR-V. While the space doesn’t sound huge, it is an easy space to load and feels like it would be big enough for most. And if you want to fold the seats out the way, the space opens up to 1,289-litres, which is very good.

And did someone say MAGIC SEATS? Everyone loves ‘em. The HR-V e:HEV has ‘em. If you don’t know ‘em, you can flip up the seat bases so you can stand tall things (like plants?) in the rear footwells. We reckon that might make up for some of the lost boot space, a bit?

How far do your pennies go?

There are three trims available for the HR-V: Elegance (from £26,960), Advance (from £29,210) and Advance Style (from £31,660). All of them come with a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, heated front seats (woo!), keyless entry/start, parking sensors all around, and a reversing camera.

Stepping up to the big leagues, Advance gets you a funkier air con system that blows air around the car, rather than intensely focusing on one part of your anatomy. On top of that you get a hands-free tailgate, wireless phone charger and a heated steering wheel (extra woo!).

Advance Style is one for the Russian fans out there. It’s pretty much all about the looks, and gets you a motif in the grille that inexplicably looks a bit like the Russian flag? It also comes with two-tone paint and a 10-speaker stereo.

There’s also an optional Black Pack which well, gets you some black elements. Including the grille.

Should you buy one?

If you’re after a practical crossover, and you’re a fan of Magic Seats and pleasant journeys and having lots of letters in your car’s name, well, you can’t go wrong with the Honda HR-V e:HEV. Just check that engine noise isn’t a bit too rawr-y for your liking.

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