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New car review

Honda HR-V Sport test drive

Honda has attempted to breathe some sporting pedigree into the HR-V compact SUV. Has it succeeded in making it more involving?

Honda knows a thing or two about making a hot hatch. There is, of course, the legendary Civic Type R, which has repeatedly been at the forefront of the market throughout its 18-year life in the UK (and 21 years globally), while Honda also produced what is widely regarded as the best-driving front-wheel-drive car ever made in the Integra.

Now, in a market dominated by crossovers and SUVs, Honda’s trying to bring a sprinkle of that magic to that segment with this — the HR-V Sport. Has it captured some of the spirit of its forefathers?

What’s new about the Honda HR-V Sport?

Ok so we’re not going to claim this is some full-blown hot compact crossover ‘Type R’ model, but there’s certainly more to this HR-V Sport than just a racy-ish looking trim package.

We’ll go under the skin — with the Japanese firm’s strapping a turbo to its 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine here which, at least for the HR-V, is an exclusive to Sport grade. To help cope with introduction of ‘boost’, there’s been some real fettling of the suspension too.

Of course, there are visual changes — with new black gloss highlights to be found all round, as well as a honeycomb grille for a more impactful look.

How does it look?

To the untrained eye, this is just going to look like any other HR-V in the range — but Honda has indeed made some tweaks to try and make the Sport stand out from the crowd.

Most noticeable is the array of gloss black highlights in place of chrome trim around the car, while a honeycomb grille takes centre stage. That and its 18-inch alloy wheels aside though, there’s not too much to separate it from the regular HR-V.

A model-specific Modern Steel Metallic paint finish is also available at a £525 for those wanting to go a little bit off the beaten path.

We wouldn’t call it an ugly car, but the HR-V Sport is quite comfortably going to blend in with its surroundings in a queue of traffic. It’s a car that simply looks designed to be inoffensive, and that’s just fine — but we would like to have a seen a little more aggression for the Sport considering how well the mechanical changes have come off.

What’s the spec like?

On top of all the go-faster bits, Honda has brought a generous level of equipment for no extra cost on the HR-V Sport. Luxury items include LED headlights, ‘smoked’ taillights, heated seats, automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control and its ‘Connect’ infotainment system displayed on a seven-inch display with Garmin satellite navigation.

There is also Honda’s ‘Sensing’ suite of safety kit — bringing forward collision warning, lane keep assist and departure warning, traffic sign recognition and collision mitigation braking at no premium.

It is however a £27,595 car, or, with premium paint as tested, a £28,120 car. Considering the base price for a non-Sport HR-V is £19,795, you’d have to be really keen on the extra performance to opt for this. Alternatively, if you want a quick-ish crossover, a dealer-stock Nissan Juke Nismo RS can be found for £23k-ish — and that’s got 30bhp more.

Continued on next page: Interior, driving experience and our verdict

Ryan Hirons
Ryan Hirons
Articles by Ryan Hirons are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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