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?

What’s the Honda HR-V Sport like inside?

There’s no radical changes to the interior of the Honda HR-V Sport, although a new black fabric and dark red faux leather combination interior is available in the car. It looks great at a first glance, although in typical budget Japanese car fashion, that’s undone when it comes to the touch.

While feeling robust, there’s certainly an element of cheapness to the way the materials feel thanks to hard plastics, a not particularly convincing leather-effect and clunky controls in the centre. At least it should hold up for an eternity.

Honda HR-V Sport review (2019) interior | The Car Expert

When it comes to space, five can be seated in the HR-V — although we suspect not particularly comfortably if you’re planning for three adults in the back row, while the boot offers up 470 litres in capacity with all seats in place. That eclipses the Nissan Juke’s 354 litres and Mazda CX-3’s 350 litres.

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.

On the subject of safety, the HR-V Sport inherits a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP based on the regular model’s test scores back in 2015.

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.

What’s under the bonnet?

Powering our Honda HR-V Sport test car is a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which develops 180bhp and 240Nm, here sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox (a CVT is also available).

The result is 0-60mph in a respectable 7.6 seconds, with a 134mph top speed also possible. As for efficiency, Honda claims 47.9mpg on the combined cycle while emitting 135g/km in CO2.

Performance is impressive, with strong low-range torque giving the HR-V a real punch when accelerating — although it quickly begins to fizzle out at about 5,000rpm. That said, for a slightly ‘warm’-ish crossover, it’s surprising and good fun — and has a sound lying on the right side of yobbish for something with the sport moniker. The six-speed gearbox’s short ratios lend well to it when looking for a bit of fun too, although its higher-revving nature can grow tiresome on a longer cruise.

What’s the Honda HR-V Sport like to drive?

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This may be a bit of a shock — it is to us too — but the HR-V’s ‘Sport’ credentials extend beyond marketing. It’s a genuine joy to drive, with steering well-weighted when pressing on and little in the way of body roll under harder cornering — yet its setup is soft enough to ensure it’s not overly firm.

Fling it into a corner and the chassis is happily to play around too, with enough slip at the rear to almost convince you this could be a baby Type R and leave you laughing all the way down a B-road, but not so much to get into real trouble.

It’s not flawless though. It’s not a real cruising car, with plenty of wind noise and its peaky engine making it hard to pitch as a motorway cruiser — although it’s fine around town, an area where the HR-V has always excelled.

Verdict

Honda has made something seriously fun and genuinely interesting in the HR-V Sport. It’s a car that was once just another crossover – neither particularly outstanding nor dreadful – which now has an appealing option in its range that will put actual smiles on anyone’s face on the right road, just as long as it’s kept in mind this is no HR-V Type R, as mad as that concept sounds.

It does come at something of a cost though, so we reiterate that this is only really worth considering above other HR-Vs if performance is on your list.

Similar cars

Citroën C3 Aircross | Dacia Duster | Fiat 500X | Ford EcoSport | Honda HR-V | Hyundai Kona | Kia Stonic | MG ZS | Mazda CX-3 | Mini Countryman | Mitsubishi ASX | Nissan Juke | Peugeot 2008 | Renault Captur | SEAT Arona | SsangYong Tivoli | Suzuki Vitara | Vauxhall Crossland X | Volkswagen T-Roc

Key specifications

Model as tested: Honda HR-V Sport
Price (on-road): £27,595
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Power: 180 hp
Torque: 240 Nm
Top speed: 134 mph
0-60mph: 7.6 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 47.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 135 g/km

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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