Honda Malaysia has been on a roll this year. The company has been busy shifting its products around; discontinuing some, introducing new ones and enhancing existing ones.
Many questioned their decision to stop offering the popular BRV earlier this year. But with the introduction and current success of the WRV, Honda Malaysia proved that was the right decision and is now laughing all the way to the bank.
Before that though, the Honda HRV received an all-new model update, and that too has seen the company posting healthy sales figures. But that is not exactly unexpected since the new HRV does undoubtedly check all the boxes of a B-Segment SUV. In fact, even the previous HRV was a success already, and Honda has hit the nail once again with the new HRV.
The model you see here though sits below the flagship RS hybrid model and is known as the V spec. After having spent about a week with it, it is perhaps the best HRV variant to buy out of the four variants on offer.
Of course, the hybrid offers better fuel economy and more features, but there are still those who are skeptical about hybrid powertrains, including this writer. So for those of us who are yet to take the plunge into hybrids, the V spec is the best HRV to buy. Let us explain.
From the outside, the HRV V-Spec looks similar to the rest of the line up, but it is distinguished from the top spec model by the piano black front grille, 18-inch wheels which it shares with the RS, sequential turn signals, chrome exhausts, and some interior features.
The design is probably its biggest allure, with hardly a bad angle to be found. It is visually bigger than the previous generation HRV, and it shares the same door handle placement with the previous model – at the edge of the door frame rather than on the door panel itself.
Besides that, there’s almost nothing that connects old and new besides the name. And that continues inside as well.
But before we begin raving about it, let’s first begin with what could be better. Interior space for one can be tight for a family of four or five, especially those that are broad around the shoulders, as this writer found out when his father, mother, wife, sat in the HRV with a baby chair locked in to the ISOFIX mounts. Never has the HRV felt so cramped.
The booth may be good, but it is not exactly great and only has 335 litres of storage space. There is a solution to that though, but before getting to that, it is worth pointing out that the booth space does not get a tonneau cover but instead gets an odd panel that is installed onto the booth lid. It does however do what it is supposed to do and ensures passersby do not get a peek inside the booth.
As for the booth space, the HRV comes with something called Ultra Seats. This lets the rear bench seats fold up or down individually to create more storage space for tall or long items. It is rather ingenious and needs to be seen in person to be believed.
We also thought that the interior can be quite noisy at high speed but is fine at urban pace. There is also no Blind Spot Monitoring system while cheaper cars like the Myvi has it. This can be quite handy especially in urban conditions where motorcyclists tend to linger in blind spots.
But it does have the Honda Lane Watch system that utilizes a camera placed under the left wing mirror. It works when you turn on the left indicator and projects the image onto the eight-inch infotainment screen. This lets you know if there is a vehicle on the left and lets you make safer turns. But besides only being available on the left side of the car, it also takes us to the next point which we think could be better – the camera resolution.
When the Lane Watch system is in use the image displayed on the infotainment screen is blurry and grainy. It is fine during the day but could be better. It gets worse at night when you can’t tell the difference between a motorcycle and a car with one headlight. But you can expect this to be fixed with future models.
Besides that, there is nothing else to complain about. The HRV is one of those cars that performs exactly as you expect it to and offers a fuss free day to day motoring experience.
Even from a driving perspective, the HRV is an easy car to live with. There are those who say that the handling of the HRV feels a little sloppy since it is quite light with a kerb weight of just 1,393kg. But after a few high-speed bouts, getting stuck in traffic and experiencing just about everything that a car has to do on a daily basis, there really is nothing out of the norm as far as handling is concerned.
The steering feels light and gets heavier if you select Sport mode from the drive mode selector. Throttle response is good with the 1.5-litre turbocharged engine responding to every request with zero turbo lag. With 133PS and 240Nm of torque, the HRV has decent acceleration thanks to its lightweight body and tops out at 200km/h. For reference’s sake, the Toyota Corolla Cross has a top speed of 185km/h.
One of the features that we really like though is the ‘Low-Speed Follow’ function. It is essentially adaptive cruise control with a stop and go function. When activated, the car will adapt its speed according to the set speed and to the traffic conditions. It will also stop the car when the front car stops and move again when traffic starts to flow. However, if traffic is at a standstill for more than a few seconds, you only need to gently nudge the accelerator to activate the system again. This is brilliant in heavy traffic.
Priced at RM135,900, the Honda HRV V spec is one of those cars that simply can’t put a wheel wrong, and the fact that it comes with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty just sweetens the deal.
Engine: 133PS @ 6000rpm
Power: 240Nm @ 1700rpm
Suspension: MacPherson strut (Front) / Torsion beam (Rear)
We like: Good looks, comfort
We don’t like: Grainy camera