I have a bit of a fascination for “crossovers”. The bastardisation of a full-bloodied 4×4 with a family hatchback at first seems like a marketing man’s fantasy, but it actually does the business for an increasing number of car owners. So what’s the big deal?
It’s the combination of space and style that ticks the boxes for so many. Build your regular hatchback somewhat taller, and make it look like it’s capable of, if not climbing a mountain pass, at least pulling a horsebox out of a field, and you are onto a winner. By dispensing with four-wheel-drive the purchase price and the fuel economy are kept in check.
There’s now a host of what we’ll call compact crossovers. Alongside the new Honda HR-V sit cars like the Fiat 500X, Ford EcoSport, Mazda CX-3, Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi ASX, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Ssangyong Tivoli, Suzuki SX4 and Vauxhall Mokka. And of course, the car that still sets the benchmark for outlandish styling, Nissan’s Juke.
Quite why anyone buys a Focus/Golf/Astra hatchback any more I am not really sure. The Honda HR-V is the newest kid on the block and it promises to match or better the interior space of these old-school cars while costing hardly any more. The HR-V looks especially good in my eyes, too.
HR-V model range
Honda has gone so far as to acknowledge that UK buyers aren’t really fussed about four-wheel-drive, as long as their car looks like it might have off-road ability. So it’s front-wheel-drive only, even though a 4×4 HR-V is available in other markets. Engine choice is simple, 1.6-litre diesel or 1.5 petrol, with only the latter available with automatic transmission. That’s a black mark against the HR-V immediately, for I like a diesel auto.
Still Honda is renowned for it’s brilliantly easy manual gearchanges, so it’s a manual diesel HR-V we’ve added to the MR test fleet. The diesel range starts at £19,745 for the S, rising to £25k for the 1.6 i-DTEC EX. The equivalent petrol models are around £1,750 cheaper, starting at £18k.
The EX probably won’t be the most popular HR-V, for the SE Navi is almost £3,000 less. You’ll miss out on the heated leather seats, rear-view camera, LED headlights and panoramic sunroof of the EX, but many will live with that for the saving. Automatic transmission adds £1,100 to the cost of the petrol HR-V.
Roomy, easy to drive, amazing fuel economy are the positives so far. I am struggling with the integrated Garmin satellite navigation/ infotainment system at the moment, and I haven’t got a clue about “Aha” app integration. But there’s plenty of time to find out.
Specification: 2015 Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX manual
Price (October 2015): £24,495
Price with options: £25,470 (metallic paint £525)
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Torque: 221lb ft
0-62mph: 10.5 secs
Top speed: 119mph