The Honda HRV is a sport compact SUV, a category which is highly in demand and widely known.The HR-V name at first glance may seem like it came from it’s big brother, the CR-V, but Honda has taken the name from the old 2001 Honda HR-V. I am going to tell you about the reason why I think the Honda HRV is a great car for Thailand.
Starting with the basic, the HR-V is powered by a petrol inline 4 lifted from the Civic which produces141 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and173 nm of torque @ 4300 rpm with power going to the front wheel (4WD currently not available for Thailand) with a CVT gearbox (*Manual currently not available for Thai market). In terms of performance, despite the fact that it is not considered as a sport car but by putting it inside the transmission into Sport and when pulling the paddles the HR-V does sound like a sporty car from the fruity engine note.
It has the underpinning of the Honda Jazz but it isn't because there’s no Jazz DNA to be seen anywhere and it feels nothing like a Honda Jazz, the saying looks sporty with the sloping roof line and conceal rear door handle gives it a coupe styling but the inside is very spacious. With the concealed rear door handle it is entertaining when your passenger can’t find it however this creates a rather large c pillar causing a blind spot.
The Honda HRV has a great interior, when you first set your eyes on it you won’t believe you can get this great quality at this price, the interior is amazing with the high quality plastics with the piano black center island. The rear space is spacious and the rear seat has a storage under the seat. Moreover, the interior is covered in soft touch leather which is not just better than its competitor’s but better than some bigger SUV .Even the air condition control is touch screen rather than the traditional button which looks great and works well but it requires some time to get used to it.
However the HR-V isn’t perfect, the CVT gearbox feels strange due to the fact that it keeps the RPM at around 2,500 which is supposed to make the car more fuel efficient. By using the paddle shifter on the string wheel the personality of the car changes from a quiet fuel efficient small car, it makes a sound you wouldn't expect from a crossover as it sounds similar to the legendary Honda NSX which was the first to use Honda’s iconic i-VTEC which gives the engine 2 personality, at low RPM the engine is fuel efficient and at high RPM it feels sportier. Yet, it will feel quite strange if you are used to a tratintiosnal automatic gearbox. The Honda HR-V’s ride is nice and soft both around town and on bad road surfaces, thanks to the adaptive suspension which makes the shocks firmer during high speed making the HR-V feel planted at higher speed.
In my opinion the ideal HR-V would have a face like the Vessel(HR-V for Japanese market) RS which is a sporty trim level sold exclusively in Japan, as you can see it has a more attractive led strip on the bottom which replaces the current fog light. Along with the simpler mat black grill which combined gives it which a cleaner, more aggressive look and the RS model comes with sporty looking alcantara seat center and dash.
In the technology department, well let’s say its not the best that Honda can offer, because of it’s lacking features like Honda’s “Lane-watch”, Apple CarPlay, Voice control and others which would be fine but if you look at a similarly price Honda Civic has all these for a sightly cheaper price. Furthermore, if it had a digital speed o meter and the ability to remote start the engine it would be convenient in the hot climate of Thailand when a the car heats up to a unbearable temperature.
Talking about things which the Honda HR-V is lacking are the array of active safety system , such as blind spot asset, lane keep assist, and automatic braking which is found in the similarly price Mazda CX-3. But it may be beneficial not having it as this sort of technology is currently fitted to the European model and it isn’t getting good review as Honda’s system dubbed “Honda Sensing “is too sensitive making it brake when even though there is nothing, which can be annoying and that might be the reason why Honda waiting for it’s system to be refined before allowing loose on the busy streets of Thailand.
So you may be wondering what makes it outstanding ,well as we all know Thailand isn’t known as a country of great roads is it? The roads are full of potholes, badly repaired and rough roads but this is where the HRV shines because it has a taller ride height than most saloon or hatchback making it able to tackle these better, but it isn’t as tall as a pick-up based SUV so it’s rides and handles like a normal car. The fact that the HRV is quite small so it faces no difficulty driving through the narrow streets of Bangkok. Of course the other point to consider when buying a car is its Safety which is where the HR-V shines as it scores a maximum of 5 stars on the EuroNcap crash test.
The main selling point of the HR-V is the practicality of it, the rear cargo area is larger than others in it class at 453-litres in size and you could even make it larger by folding down the seat which folds flat so it easy to carry longer items. The coolest feature in this category is what Honda named it the “Magic Seat” which allows only the base of the seat to be fold up to allow you to carry tall item.
The pricing starts at the most basic “S” trim model with cloth seat which is 933,00 baht MSRP, the new model is a sort of mid range model the “E” trim which is the same with the “S” but with leather seats, then we get to the top of the range models, the “E Limited” and the “EL” which has the same upgraded equipment such as rain sensing wiper, auto dimming rearview mirror and many more, but the exterior looks nicer because the they have body color wheels arch and rear bumper which in opinion looks much better and the center concise is finish in piano black wood which gives the interior a much more expensive feel. The main different between the “E Limited” and the “EL” is the panoramic sunroof. As you may notice the HR-V is priced higher than it’s competitors, but it seems to be more commonly
seen than competitor’s on the roads.
Anyways, if you’re looking for a small compact SUV, it isn't like you have much choice do you? You have a Nissan Juke which it’s looks are quite subjective because its a love or hate design, the Mazda CX-3 which is considered to be quite small, another contender is the Toyota CH-R but it would take at least 1 - 2 years before it hits the showroom in Thailand. The ride height is tall enough to tackle a small flood and the it has a soft comfy ride with a small turning circle. So is this the perfect car for Thailand?