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Honda HR-V 1.5 Comfort CVT: The great mix

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen . . . the amazing new Honda HR-V. Well, actually it’s not completely amazing – nor is it very new. My neighbour got one half a year ago. Walter. Nice guy. You should also take note that this is not the CR-V, Honda’s slightly bigger and more famous SUV.

One of our testers learnt this when he suggested taking this car to the Atlantis dunes for some off-roading fun – which would’ve been interesting in this front-wheel-drive car. So. This is Honda’s new-ish 5-door urban crossover – a compact lifestyle SUV thingy with decent ride height.

It should be good for light excursions beyond the tarmac and the Japanese manufacturer says you should buy one for its “driving dynamics, fuel efficiency and versatile interior.” We can definitely vouch for the last bit. There’s tons of room for four adults and rear passengers get to operate the coupe-line door handles.

Inside they’ll find Honda’s brilliant Magic Seat concept which allows the rear furniture in this car to move into all sorts of wonderful positions. The HR dash V also gives you plenty of luggage space and a full-size spare wheel, something you may not find in competing products.

Right. What else can we tell you about the little Honda? It comes with either a 1.5 or 1.8 litre four-cylinder petrol engine and output range from 88 to 105 kW. In typical Honda style, these figures arrive at, like, 19 000 rpm - which can get annoying because the HRV is only available with a CVT.

It’s a type of automatic gearbox which has just one gear; or every gear. In essence, it does a great job of imitating the wicked ways of a slipping clutch. It also has a Sport mode – not sure why – but will simulate up to seven forward gears with the help of shift paddles on the good-looking multi-function steering wheel.

The upsides of this gearbox are comparatively better fuel efficiency and cheaper maintenance because there is less wear on major components. Like gears. Also, one of our testers used to own a CVT car and, when she finally got used to the strange sounds and rubbery response, admits that it was a smooth and relaxing drive.

That also goes for overtaking, because the gearbox doesn’t have to look for the right ratio, it MAKES the right ratio. You put your foot down and it’ll shoot to the red-line for as long as you want it to. Anyway. We tested the 1.5 Comfort model and found its engine to be perky and relatively fuel efficient.

Our test average was just under 8 F/100km but the car’s overall consumption sat at 8.5 – for the record, that’s 2.3 F higher than the manufacturer’s claim. Don’t bother looking that up, we saved you the trouble. Oh yes, we also tested the hooter! It sounds good.

What also impressed us was the stylish interior with a central tunnel design that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern Volvo. Materials include hard plastics but they don’t look or feel cheap – nor did we find any nasty panel gaps or rattles in this 15 000 km press car. That is impressive.

The door cards are covered in a soft and spongy material, there’s a funky ring of light floating above the speedometer which changes colour with your driving style and Honda fitted a relatively simple CD, radio, Bluetooth, media, sound system jobby.

Steering and handling are perfectly acceptable for this type of car and the ride is comfortable, thanks to Bridgestone tyres with big side walls. Other things worth mentioning are the electronic park brake and three air vents for the front passenger. Does your car have three passenger air vents? Yah, I didn’t think so.

HR-V doesn’t have a coolant temperature gauge, just blue and red warning lights. So the latter will only illuminate when it’s too late . . . but then again, this is a Honda. Which means you can cane it all day and the temperature won’t budge.

That alone may be reason enough to consider the Honda HR-V as a new inhabitant of your garage, but we’re happy to confirm that this cheeky looking mini-SUV is a great mix of everyday versatility, economy and comfort. You just need to get used to the gearbox. -Galimoto Media

Full Speclist
Engine: 1.5 4-cylinder petrol
Transmission: CVT auto
Kilowatt @ RPM: 88 kW
Torque @ RPM: 145 Nm
Fuel consumption average: 6.2F/100 km (claimed)
0-100 time: 12.0 seconds
Top Speed: 180 km/h
List Price: R320 900

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