Ian Lamming goes all rose-tinted as he drives the Honda HR-V.
MODERN vehicles are starting to lose me a bit with their touchscreen, driver-redundant, technology.
They don’t seem to be about the driving anymore and are built for the masses as mere modes of transport.
Fewer people seem bothered about grip, handling, steering and performance. They trust the electronic stuff under the skin to do all that and, anyway, the average speed today has dropped into the 30s so all those things seem irrelevant.
The latest of generation is more like a digital device than an enjoyable means with which to ply the roads and is better understood by my 12-year-old than his old dad.
So it’s quite nice to take a step back to a previous generation and head off in Honda’s HR-V, which, if you recall, is a modestly sized SUV with a coupe silhouette.
Don’t get me wrong, the tech is still in there – an infotainment system with 7 in touchscreen and internet browsing function, City-Brake Active (stops you crashing in town), intelligent speed limiter with traffic sign recognition (stops you getting pinched for speeding). But the obvious tech is easy to use, including the fastest-to-use satnav in the west.
The dash is traditional with real clocks rather than virtual images so you know where to look for the info you need and this can be done at a glance so yours eyes remain looking forward through the windscreen – which is a revelation nowadays.
Being a Honda, it also feels beautifully made, that it will last forever, and, in EX spec is plush with well-placed leather trim and quality fixtures and fittings.
It is comfy too with plenty of spaces for everyone inside, bags of mood-lifting light from the large areas of glass and brilliant ride.
The aesthetics have weathered old father time well and it still looks pretty good as it slips through the ever-changing shapes and sizes of the competition. The new LED lights look better and illuminate the road brilliantly at night.
Climb inside the HR-V and it feels great from the word go, especially for the driver who gets a tactile chunky steering wheel. The responses are great too. It drives like a sports saloon with well-weighted steering.
Economy is good too with the trip computer getting into the 50s when it comes to the miles per gallon.
If there is a ‘but’ it’s the way the 1.5 litre VTEC petrol engine performs. It feels a bit breathless but with 130PS available it actually isn’t. It’s the way it doles out the power which is through revs. Stomp on the throttle and the CVT automatic gearbox knows exactly where to go for the maximum power. It sticks the needle right into the mix and there’s a lot of mechanical noise from valves and other bits a pieces in the engine.
If you do this acceleration is actually good and when you lift off to cruise along once more the noise disappears. It’s just a bit different but once you attune to the workings of a VTEC engine, coupled to a CVT, it is just fine.
It’s amazing really how an old stalwart can be a refreshing change but that is just how the HR-V makes you feel and at just over 28K it’s price tag also comes from the past.
Honda HR-V EX
Engine: 1.5 petrol
0-62mph: 11.4 secs
Top speed: 116mph
Combined MPG: 52.3
CO2 g/km: 125