Cars

Published on March 29th, 2019 | by Subhash Nair

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Honda HR-V RS is The Little Bit Extra You Asked For

The Honda HR-V was a surprise hit in 2015. Most passers-by were captivated by its good looks. But buyers were taken by its low initial asking price of less than RM100,000. It ticked all the boxes back then, with good safety, efficiency, power, comfort and NVH characteristics to back an already attractive design and price tag.

It was one of those moments where Honda Malaysia really shone best. The Japanese C-segment sedan was once the ‘default’ car of choice. But then the South East Asian market moved towards larger, better equipped B-segment Japanese sedans. The mid-2000s were a time of big growth in the region and people here wanted to be seen in better, more exclusive cars than your average City, Vios or Almera. No one had an answer but Honda and their answer was infallible.

Four years later, the segment is crowded with options from Subaru, Mazda and Toyota. Yet none command the balance of resale value, initial asking price, and overall practicality. I mean, I love the way the XV and CX-3 drive and look. But the HR-V’s mechanical simplicity and larger size make it an easier recommendation for conventional buyers. The CH-R seems like a great contender but without a CKD offering in place, the HR-V still reigns supreme.

So, the HR-V RS in particular. What is it and why should you be interested. Well, as you may have read in our HR-V Hybrid impressions, we see this as Honda Malaysia trying to give more buyers what they want out of the HR-V. For the Hybrid, it’s a more efficient, cleaner, and more powerful powertrain. With the RS, you’re getting a full-spec car with sharper handling. That addresses the two issues that the 4-year-old crossover was facing.

Sportier, more Modern Exterior

With the RS, looks matter. You get a new grille with the most recent reflector LED headlamp design, LED fog lights, bumpers, a new rear look is here too with a revamped LED tail light design.

In addition to this fresh appearance, you get 18″ two-tone rims and darker exterior garnish.

Exclusive, more Luxurious Interior

Some say that adding white upholstery and leather seats isn’t a big decision, but I’m pretty sure there was some push back internally with this one. Malaysians tend not to appreciate lighter coloured interiors as they’re more difficult to take care of.

While this is true, it’s also true that exclusivity tends to make things more desirable. In 5 years time, there will be fewer Honda HR-V RS models running about than any other variants. Spiffing up these interiors won’t take that much money or effort. What you might be left with is a much cleaner, upmarket looking interior that’s easier to love.

It’s definitely a gamble, but I think I quite like how the HR-V’s interior looks in white. It’s not something you see very often in locally-assembled cars. And it brings out the HR-V’s previously hidden interior design finesse. Most may not have noticed the subtle curves and angles in a black-on-black interior.

Sharper Handling

I don’t think anyone wanted the HR-V to be more powerful nor did anyone need it to be more efficient. A 1.8-litre SOHC i-VTEC with 142PS was exactly what most commuters needed to take on both heavy traffic and B-road overtaking.

What the HR-V needed was more responsive steering. It was good at low-to-medium speeds but at higher speeds tended to be a little vague. The RS solves this with its Variable Gear Ratio steering. With the VGR system, the HR-V is now as agile as you could ask a B-segment crossover to be.

Closing Thoughts

Would I recommend the Honda HR-V RS? It’s STILL a no-brainer if you’re looking for a B-segment crossover. The HR-V is a proven global vehicle that continues to receive great CKD incentives. It’s still a segment leader in terms of practicality and the RS package only adds to its looks, handling and feature set. The only big gripe you might have is with the infotainment display which just doesn’t work well under harsh sunlight (but is feature rich).

Honda HR-V RS Specifications

Engine: Naturally aspirated Inline-4 petrol, SOHC
Capacity: 1799cc
Gearbox: CVT Automatic
Max power: 140hp @ 6500rpm
Max torque: 172Nm @ 4300rpm
Price: RM124,800


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