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Long-term review

Honda ZR-V - long-term review

£42,895 / £43,545 as tested / £439pcm
Published: 01 Feb 2024
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SPEC HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPEC

    Honda ZR-V Advance

  • ENGINE

    1993cc

  • BHP

    181bhp

  • MPG

    58.9mpg

  • 0-62

    8s

Should cars be interesting?

We must kick off this update with a small round of applause for the Honda ZR-V. You see, it has slipped into daily life with consummate ease here at TG, and yet it hasn’t really been given any praise since it entered the garage. Instead of people asking to borrow it, colleagues have mostly been asking what it actually is.

In fact, it’s simply an extremely easy car to live with. The powertrain may sound complex with its twin electric motors, its petrol-powered motor generator and Honda’s ‘Linear Shift Control’ (essentially fake automatic gearchanges so the engine sounds familiar and doesn’t run at constant high revs when you have the throttle pressed), but from the driver’s seat there isn’t any real sense of the engineering that’s going on underneath. And that’s a compliment, honest. The ZR-V is quiet, reasonably refined and actually much more comfortable than I gave it credit for when I first drove this car on the launch in Spain.

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It’s also averaging just under 42mpg despite frequent short trips in London. Not bad, but for context our old long-term Civic averaged over 58mpg during its time with us. The ZR-V is around 150kg heavier than the Civic too, and outside the confines of the M25 I have felt that it could do with a little more power as a result. Plus, it’s just not that interesting to drive. There are steering wheel-mounted paddles to control the level of regenerative braking (which is something I always look for in a full EV) but here they seem rather pointless and I’m yet to really bother changing the levels. It certainly doesn’t accelerate like an EV, so I never feel the need to stop it like one either.

The interior is exactly the same. It’s well laid out and straightforward to use, the infotainment screen loads without delay and now that my phone is paired with the car, Apple CarPlay pops up wirelessly seconds after the ZR-V has been switched on. Sounds simple, but it’s something that so many manufacturers seem to struggle with as cars get ever more complex.

The separate climate control buttons are welcome too and the quality of the knobs and switches is all very impressive. But the graphics on the two screens are extremely plain and Honda has ruined the sleek look of the horizontal dash by adding in a weirdly wavy centre console.

When it was unveiled the ZR-V, Honda said it was for “young, image conscious buyers”, but surely young people want something interesting in their cars, even if most of them couldn’t care less how it drives?

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