HR-V – Feeling nostalgic

The HR-V is a part of my motoring life, so driving the new one brought back some memories.

I remember my teenage years and everything I thought I was going to do with my life. There were lots and lots of things – some of which have become a reality, some will never leave the realm of dreams – but it was very clear to me what I had to do to fulfil 90% of them: get a driver’s licence.

That is why I took the test the day after I turned 18. Believe me, it was a hard decision to have to postpone the test a whole 24 hours.

With that out of the way, the next goal in line was pretty obvious: get me a car. Ah, the car, the one object I had always loved above all others and now it was my time to get it.

I had saved some money, but my mom did the coolest thing and she gave me her car. And what car was that? Yup, a first-generation Honda HR-V, in a totally inconspicuous bright red.

Oh man, I loved that car… Suddenly I could go anywhere, whenever I wanted. One day I took a girl to the beach in that car, between classes, and, strangely enough, she lives in my house now and my kids call her mom. Not a memory likely to be forgotten, that one.

Sadly, one day at 2am, a drunk guy ran a red light and destroyed my precious Honda. He hit us just at the right place, from the side at an intersection, straight into the front axle – had he hit us on the door, me and my wife might not be here today. The HR-V stopped maybe 20 metres after the crash and was deemed a wreck by the insurance company. His BMW 5 Series was in even worse shape, which, amidst all the commotion, left me a bit proud of my little Japanese.

So you see, I am forever bound to Honda and the HR-V, although I never actually bought one. And, although the new car has lost 90% of the old one’s irreverence, it is still an HR-V and it felt fun to drive it around for a couple of days.

The new HR-V is what you call a crossover these days. It is a cross of something like a Civic and a pseudo-high-riding-offroader kind of thing. Think Nissan Juke or Renault Captur and you get the idea.

As I have written many times before on these pages, crossovers are what people want these days. Maybe it’s the elevated driving position, maybe it’s the enhanced feeling of safety, maybe it’s just that they think these cars look good – the fact is, everybody is selling their hatchbacks, saloons and estates and jumping on the crossover bandwagon.

No point then in trying to sell you a Civic for the same money, right? Okay, then let’s talk about the HR-V.

The 120 horse power, 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine is engineered to offer spectacular fuel efficiency, if not outright performance. Driving around in a normal manner, it averages something like 5 litres/100km, while if you push it, it never goes over 6.2 litres/100km. Really. I was quite stunned because I wasn’t driving with fuel in mind and it just amazed me that, after almost 500km, I handed the car back to Honda with half a tank.

There are no complaints regarding comfort. The HR-V rides well, the seats are good and the high-profile tyres make a world of sense. In the corners, the roll you get is perfectly acceptable in such a car and I wouldn’t want it to be any sportier than it is, which is very little.

Being a Honda, you feel the quality of the engineering and that sense that this car will not let you down is very much present. Reliability is a given.

As for gadgets, there’s all the usual stuff for the segment, although the infotainment could be a bit more intuitive to use.

Spec your car wisely and it won’t break your wallet. The HR-V starts at €25,000 for the 1.5 petrol version and €28,000 for diesel, but there is big news on the hybrid front: it has just arrived to the range and will soon hit showrooms. Prices to be announced.

All in all, the new HR-V is a likeable car. Mine was a controversial machine, with avantgarde design and an in-your-face personality. It was also not a crossover, because such a thing didn’t exist at the time and, with two doors only, practicality was not great. The new one is more harmonious but less emotional. Honda wanted it that way, because the market wants it that way.

If you really don’t want a Civic, the HR-V won’t disappoint.

By Guilherme Marques