Driving the HR-V feels just like sitting in a small family car that’s on stilts. It’s quite comfortable and a breeze to manoeuvre around town but it’s a tad noisy on the motorway
You can get the HR-V with either a petrol or diesel engine and with either a manual or automatic gearbox.
The 1.5-litre petrol is perfect if you spend lots of time around town. It’s smoother and quieter than the diesel and it’s pokey enough for the occasional motorway journey. It’ll return approximately 40mpg compared to Honda’s claimed 50.4mpg.
If you do lots of miles a year, the 1.6-litre diesel will be worth considering. It doesn’t feel quite as eager as the petrol and it’s a little louder when you accelerate but it’s reasonably quiet at motorway speeds and returns a more economical 60mpg in normal driving conditions.
Avoid the optional CVT automatic gearbox – it’s more expensive than the manual, no more efficient and makes the engine wail like a dying cow if you so much as touch the accelerator
The optional CVT automatic gearbox is well worth avoiding. It helps take some of the stress out of heavy stop-start traffic but it causes the engine to drone very loudly if you accelerate hard. It’ll set you back £1,210 across the HR-V range and is only available on petrol models.
Unlike the Suzuki Vitara, you can’t get the HR-V with four-wheel drive, but with all-weather tyres it has more than enough grip to deal with the odd icy driveway or leaf-covered country lane.
The Honda’s raised suspension and large windows make it easy to see out of and a breeze to drive around town. The pillars between its windscreen and front doors don’t create any particularly awkward blind spots at junctions and it’s dead easy to check over your shoulder before changing lanes on the motorway.
The rear windscreen is a little small, however, but all models come with front and rear parking sensors as standard to help make squeezing into tight spaces pretty stress-free. Top-spec EX models even come with a reversing camera as standard to make parking even easier.
The HR-V’s reasonably light steering makes performing a quick three-point turn a breeze but it struggles to stay composed over rutted road surfaces – especially at slow speeds. On faster roads it settles down into a fairly relaxed cruise but you’ll still hear quite a lot of noise from the tyres – most noticeably in models fitted with larger 17-inch alloy wheels.
Thankfully the Honda doesn’t lean too much in tight corners and although it isn’t quite as grin-inducing as the surprisingly sporty Suzuki Vitara, it feels much more confident on twisty country lanes than the Peugeot 2008.
Alongside cruise control, you also get automatic emergency braking as standard on all models. This system will apply the brakes if it detects an obstacle ahead to help prevent slow-speed collisions. This sort of advanced safety tech helped the HR-V earn a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2015.
The testing procedures have been made stricter since then, but for a little extra peace of mind pick an SE model – they come with traffic sign recognition, a speed limiter and collision warning features as standard.