You’re spoiled for choice if you’re looking to buy a compact crossover, and given the popularity of this type of car there’s a good chance you do want one.
It’s a crowded marketplace, so it’s not surprising that Honda has made a huge effort to ensure its new HR-V is as attractive as possible. From the outside this has been rather successful with an on-trend sloping back and a bluff front end.
It looks much more attractive than the outgoing HR-V and is comparable to the Vauxhall Mokka and Peugeot 2008.
So the Honda looks the part, but how does it stack up elsewhere? Well, it’s a curate’s egg situation with some parts of the egg being very whiffy.
The old HR-V was available with a 1.5-litre petrol engine or a 1.6-litre diesel. Both have been replaced by a hybrid powertrain which uses a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine developing 106bhp, and an electric motor via a fixed gear e-CVT gearbox.
The car always pulls away under electric power, which it also uses at slower speeds. Even with a relatively small 1.1kWh battery the car can run like this for surprisingly long periods around town, although Honda isn’t confirming a maximum EV-only range.
Three trim levels are available starting at the bottom with Elegance (at £26,960) then going up through Advance to Advance Style. We’re driving the middle choice which costs £29,760.
Even the Elegance comes with a good level of equipment that includes heated seats. A move up to Advance brings with it a heated leather steering wheel, powered tailgate and dual instead of single zone air conditioning.
There’s a good reason for not going for the flagship HR-V aside from its £31,660 price. Its ‘premium’ sound system isn’t that premium and the subwoofer takes up space in the boot which at 319 litres isn’t that large anyway.
Honda bucks the trend by giving you a proper array of knobs, dials and switches so that virtually all adjustments can be made without having to delve into the infotainment system.
With the fuel tank under the front seats, there’s space at the back to enable the fitting of Honda’s Magic Seats.
Their backs can be folded completely flat as the bases can slip right down to the floor which allows for tall stuff to be carried. This in many ways makes up for the lack of volume.
Honda says that it’s focused on driver comfort and enjoyment, and on the first point the new HR-V scores well.
The tank under the front seats also creates a high seating position which gives a good view out and the ride is comfortable even over the poorest tarmac.
But is it an enjoyable car to drive? Not really. The HR-V feels sluggish and if you do give it a boot to the throttle for encouragement the engine revs shoot up, making it irritatingly noisy.
However, the HR-V is a million miles from sporty and should therefore be driven in a relaxed fashion. It probably will be, too.
The e-CVT transmission is the culprit. It’s a shame that Honda doesn’t use a more conventional automatic transmission or one that’s as innovative as Renault’s clever clutchless auto gearbox which it fits to its E-Tech hybrids.
Leaving the lukewarm driving experience aside, you have the best-looking Honda crossover ever and one that is very practical and easy to live with.
It’s also very well equipped for the price, especially in Advance spec.
Honda HR-V Advance five-door crossover
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol plus electric motor, producing 129bhp
Fuel consumption: 52.3mpg
Nissan Qashqai Dig-T 140 Premier
Quicker, but with a manual gearbox and less kit.
Peugeot 2008 GT Premium
Smart styling inside and out, and not bad to drive.
Volkswagen T-Roc SEL
Considerably more powerful but less inspired styling and less practical inside.