Published on May 3rd, 2015 | by Subhash Nair1
HR-V Media Drive Part 2: Performance & Safety
In part one, we examined how Honda balanced form and function to bring a crossover that properly reflected modern tastes without having to compromise on practicality. We’ll talk a little more on that here, but focus more on performance and safety, arguably the most solid reasons for buying this car over any of its competitors.
You see, Honda didn’t jump on the crossover bandwagon like a lot of its competitors did. Instead they took their time and did as much research as they possibly could before coming up with the HR-V. We already looked at how well the HR-V did storage its seats folded down, but if that demonstration wasn’t enough, we were given the actual comparative measurements to see how it stacked up, objectively speaking. It may look a tad smaller than the rest, but it’s cleverly engineered to maximise use of its interior space. What’s more, at just 65.5cm, it’s got a lower floor than its competition, meaning you don’t have to lift things up very high to get them in the boot. As a result, it manages to take store more items more intelligently.
There was also an NVH test set up to demonstrate the superiority of the HR-V. It wasn’t just better at absorbing vibrations and bumps, the interior was put together more solidly. It felt like a car that could take decades of travel on Malaysian roads without rattling at all. In terms of performance, the engine is the same 1.8L i-VTEC from the Civic, but paired it’s paired to a CVT gearbox to maximise fuel-efficiency. Dynamically, the HR-V felt more sedan than SUV, especially when compared to its Japanese and Korean rivals. There’s was a lot less roll when cornering and both the engine and transmission could be set to more responsive modes. The CVT felt almost normal, reacting to driver feedback similarly to how a regular gearbox would.
While testing the other cars, I did notice that the HR-V lacked a few of the more eye-catching options like paddle-shifters and sunroofs that came in some shape or form on most of its rivals. When I asked the people at Honda, their answer was that customers preferred safety features over gimmicky extras, and that made perfect sense to me. Consider how useful a sunroof or paddle shifter is in the long-run. Most Malaysians don’t use them after a while and a few years down the line it just becomes another part to maintain. If you’re going to have something extra in the car that you don’t fiddle around with, safety features are a more logical option.
That’s why all HR-Vs come with ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist as standard, in addition to Vehicle Stability Assist. We even got to test out how well the traction control worked under strenuous conditions, and it worked well despite the bulk. Yes, despite having the sleekest looks, it’s still a lot bulkier than a sedan, and that might be worrying to drivers who aren’t experienced with bringing larger vehicles to a standstill.
If that’s an issue, the highest trim level comes with 6 airbags in addition to all the other safety features I mentioned earlier. Personally, the biggest selling point for the V spec is the inclusion of the dual-LED headlights that not only look cool, but also provide the best possible lighting solution for night driving.
It’s definitely a more premium feeling crossover though, with features like an electronic parking brake and reverse camera being included. It’s a pity the seats are part leather, part fabric, but that probably adds to the longevity of the interior. At the very least it adds a certain ruggedness that’s more in line with the crossover bodystyle.
The time spent with the HR-V got me really thinking what the car’s biggest selling point was, but it hit me that perhaps this was not one of those cars. It didn’t need to have one silly gimmick to draw the crowd in. It looks great, it drives well, and it’s safer and more practical than any of its competitors. And at under RM100,000, it’s probably the coolest daily driver you can have without breaking the bank.
Here’s are some comparison photos that ought to give you an idea of how well the HR-V uses its space. Please refer to the first picture to match the trunks to their corresponding badges.