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As the consumer demands have shifted from sedans to SUVs and from SUVs to small SUVs, almost every manufacturer now has its own SUV lineup from small to large to cater to the ever-increasing demands. Now, Honda… although significantly late to the party… has added another card to their SUV lineup and it is the HR-V, which will slot in below the larger CR-V. How capable is this new Honda of catering the market demands? We find that out today.

ON THE OUTSIDE

You could mistake the HR-V for an upscaled hatchback. The car doesn’t have the upright stance that you notice in all generic SUVs. The front gets the signature Solid Wing Face grille with a thick chrome unibrow which houses the Honda logo and runs from one headlight to another. The headlights are projector units with LED DRLs that look handsome. The radiator half is simplistic with only the fog lamps filling in as extra elements.

Over on the side, like any other subcompact crossover SUV, is black plastic cladding that covers the entire length of the car. The profile retains the raised hatchback silhouette and looks clean especially because of how the rear door handles are now placed discreetly on the C-pillar. The SUV look is, however, preserved by large tires with sizable 17-inch wheels with thick spokes. The HR-V measures 4,295 mm long, 1,770 mm wide, 1,605 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,610 mm. Similarly, ground clearance stands at 180 mm.

The rear of the HR-V makes a strong statement, sharp character lines encompass the equally sharp-looking pair of tail lights, the rear bumper looks robust and the integrated roof spoiler and shark fin antenna add a sporty flair to the HR-V.

THE BEST PLACE TO BE…

is inside the cabin. This is one of the best Honda interiors we have seen. The best part about the interior is the dashboard and center console. The fit and finish of the dash are excellent with every element feels solid and premium. Honda hasn’t overdone things; the layout of the dash is minimal, especially the placement of the AC vents right over the glove box for the first passenger is very unique. Also, the infotainment system faces ever so slightly towards the driver encouraging a more driver’s car feel.

The infotainment houses a 7-inch touch screen unit which is quick and easy to get used to although the bezels on the right could have been narrower. Right below you get another glass panel that looks modern and sleek and houses all your climate controls. The center console is this bridge-like structure that houses the gear lever in such a way to make it look like it has been pulled from an aircraft. The steering wheel is classic Honda that comes with controls mounted over a circular pad giving off a retro vibe. And the placement of the hazard light has got to be in the weirdest place we’ve ever seen inside a car… Below one of the AC vent.

The placement of the power outlets had us baffled as well. It’s snuck under the center console bridge, and it is not fat belly friendly. It took a lot of effort to charge our phones after a hefty meal. There’s plenty of storage spaces inside the car and even under the center console making the cabin a very practical place. Adding to that practicality is a massive boot that rivals bigger SUVs when the rear seats are folded down.
The seats, just like the dash, encourage driving. You sit nice and snuggly into the car, there’s loads of adjustment and bolstering which makes for comfortable long journeys.

Over on the back, the HR-V is highly spacious; with the driver’s seat placed farthest from the steering wheel, there’s still enough room for an adult rear passenger. The rear seats are comfortable too and three passengers can fit with ease and will not complain during road trips.

OUT ON THE ROAD…

The Honda HR-V is powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC naturally aspirated petrol engine, which delivers a peak power of 128 BHP and maximum torque of 155 Nm at 4,600 rpm. The engine comes mated to a CVT transmission. Unfortunately, while the numbers look decent enough, real-world performance is not as promising.

The engine revs high but the output is slow, the car takes its own sweet time to get going. However, once it does, cruising the highways and cutting the traffic comes with ease. Honda has also given the HR-V some nice paddle shifters to encourage some sporty driving but it still doesn’t make up for an uninviting oil burner.

The suspension and steering, however, work overtime to give you the best drive possible. The suspension does a good job handling all the bumps and undulations of the road and the steering is light, precise and gives good feedback to make for a confident drive. The stiff body ensures that the car is surefooted and planted even in triple-digit speed and the host of safety features such as ABS, EBD, Cruise control and multiple airbags should keep you and your family safe.

IF YOU’VE WATCHED A REALITY TALENT COMPETITION…

There’s this wild card thing that appears during the final few episodes. This wild card appears unannounced and shocks the competition. The story is very similar to the Honda HR-V… Almost. It appeared unannounced; yes. But, when it comes to shocking the competition, the HR-V can’t seem to pull that off. The Honda HR-V will set you back Rs. 99 lakhs if you choose to buy it.

Remember, the HR-V is fighting against a lot of competitors ranging from the Hyundai Creta to the Jeep Compass, both of which cost less than the HR-V. Also, the new entrants, The Mahindra XUV300 and the Tata H5 both will cost you way less than the HR-V. So at the end of the day, the Honda HR-V is a good car, but with a price tag that makes a serious dent in your pockets, the HR-V will have a tough time making a significant dent in the segment. But who knows, the wildcard can be unpredictable at times.

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