Honda HR-V 1.5 i-VTEC Turbo Sport 5dr
The HR-V is fairly bland but purposeful to drive, which is about right for a smallish crossover. It’ll drive for a mile or two in EV mode around town and will keep the engine turned off for as long as it can.
You get regen paddles for juicing up the batteries instead of frittering everything away in wasted brake energy. It’s a bit annoying that in every mode except Sport (there’s Eco, Normal and Sport available) the regen resets back to the middle after a short while, unless you put the gear shifter into B mode.
Honda says that the car will drive for 91 per cent of the time in EV mode around town, while at motorway speeds the engine drives the wheels directly. This is one of the main points of difference between Honda and Toyota when it comes to hybrid stuff – where Toyota uses a complicated planetary gearbox to send power off in all directions, the Honda does without one altogether, the fixed gear system cutting down on friction says Honda.
In hybrid modes the engine powers the generator, but at motorway speeds will power the wheels directly, because it’s apparently more efficient that way. Try to overtake on the motorway and the HR-V is both sluggish to respond and quite noisy as the engine gets going, but that noise happily dials back quickly as you come off the accelerator. Generally speaking it’s a very quiet set-up, the engine unobtrusive around town.
If there’s one complaint, it’s that some of the safety systems are a bit nannying. There’s no intuitive way to turn off the lane keep assist, which tried to fire us into parked cars a few times – the settings menu disappears as soon as you start driving, so remember to write yourself a post-it note or something and try to find the right sub-menu.
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. Look out for your regular round-up of news, reviews and offers in your inbox.
Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.