Honda HR-V - long term review 2023 | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
Shell V-Power: Fuelling your passions
Thursday 1st June
Long-term review

Honda HR-V - long term review

£32,660 / £36,035 as tested
Published: 09 May 2022

Can Honda's shiny new HR-V stand out from the crowd?

Pearly-white as Joey Essex’s dental furniture, a Honda HR-V has joined the Top Gear fleet. And, first things first, smart-looking thing, innit?

I was about to say, can you remember the last time Honda gave us a truly crisp, recognisable, handsome, modern bit of design… and then I remembered the e city car. Which is, in fairness, a truly crisp, recognisable, handsome, modern bit of design (if not quite so crisp as the Urban EV concept that foreshadowed it).

Advertisement - Page continues below

But e aside, recent years have not been vintage ones in the Honda design department. I’d argue the last proper looker of a Civic was 2005’s eighth-gen effort. The CR-Z? Over a decade ago now. Even the 2015 NSX was more ‘smart generic supercar’ than design icon.

But the HR-V – at least in the ‘Premium Sun White Pearl’ two-tone paint of our test car, a £550 option, I’m afraid – is a handsome beast of a thing. Big fan of that dead-level crease that runs from bonnet-edge all the way back into the rear light bar. And the white-blue-red motif in the front grille is lovely, though I have no idea what it’s referencing. (Honda’s proud history of collaboration with… Slovenia?)

Honda’s gone its own way under the bonnet, too. Just one powertrain option available here: a full hybrid, though interestingly not a PHEV. It’s a powered-up version of that from the Jazz, comprising a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine, a pair of compact e-motors and a dinky battery. There’s not a plug socket in sight: the only energy with which you’re filling this hybrid is hydrocarbon-flavoured.

At low speeds, the ICE doesn’t drive the wheels at all, instead acting as an efficient generator to feed the 1.1kWh battery. But at higher loads, it can send juice direct to the wheels not through a manual or regular auto box, but what's described as – fly-approaching-ointment-at-pace alert! – an 'eCVT'.

Advertisement - Page continues below

This could be an issue. Historically, Top Gear’s relationship with anything brought to you by the letters C, V and T has been… toxic to say the least. But we’re approaching this one with an open mind. And a pair of earplugs just in case.

The unusual hybrid set-up should, at least, prove economical. Honda claims around 50mpg on the WLTP cycle, and early impressions are that this might be the rarest of beasts: a car that can actually deliver on its theoretical economy rating out in the real world.

Speed? Not a whole heap. With a maximum of 129bhp and 187lb ft of torque available, zero to sixty officially takes around ten seconds. Hardly a performance beast, then, but then again neither am I.

And at least the HR-V is a very nice place to sit. Our test car comes in tip-toppiest Advance Style trim, which offers, well, pretty much everything, including wireless charging, and that blacked-out roof section with a natty set of rails. It’s also got the £825 optional Sport Pack, which adds the black grille and some slightly optimistic ‘performance’ bodywork extensions.

That makes this – deep breath – a £36,000 compact crossover. Punchy. But if you can do without a heated steering wheel and powered tailgate (you can) then base-spec ‘Elegance’ trim offers the same powertrain and all the kit you really need for a more palatable £28,000.

The HR-V is, of course, barrelling grille-first into probably the most crowded new-car sector of them all, battling everything from the Qashqai to the Q2, and indeed many other crossovers without a ‘Q’ in their name. Can the Honda stand out from the crowd for more than mere looks? Time to find out…

compare car finance
Powered byZuto Logo

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5