It seems that after the failure of the previous generation in Europe, the Japanese at Honda decided to make a 360-degree turn with the Honda HR-V RV and have a miraculous and acrobatic comeback. And they succeeded.
Let’s go through the history of the Honda HR-V, an automotive curiosity that has never really made waves in Europe. The first model came and went, as it was the first coupe crossover on the market when the market wasn’t really into coupe crossovers, a kind of rudimentary and 20 years too early Evoque. Initially, it was bought because it was a fashion accessory, but from 2020 onwards, it was purchased as a rural car because it’s reliable and its 4×4 system, and though it wasn’t necesarilly meant for off-road it is capable enough for most people’s needs. Let’s be honest; people’s idea of off-road is a snowy road, a forest trail or a puddle. You don’t need a high-performance 4×4 for that.
Then came the second generation of the HR-V, which was a decent success worldwide, except in Europe. It was too expensive, too dull, and not quality enough for the European market. That’s why it didn’t last long.
And then came the Honda HR-V RV. The Japanese learned a lot from the failure of the previous generation and fixed almost all the issues. That’s why, for Europe, they went with a single engine and entered the hybrid ring directly and exclusively. Just like BMW and their 2.0 diesel engine, Honda went all-in with the 1.5 hybrid engine, giving us the Honda HR-V e:HEV. They didn’t complicate things and brought a single engine. In for the international version they also went all-in with the 1.5 L15 engine, in either naturally aspirated or turbocharged version.
They also listened to complaints about the seats from the previous generation, especially the lack of lumbar support. And in the case of the Civic, the seats seemed to come straight out of children’s playground, complete with tarp. So, for the HR-V RV, they introduced the “Magic Seats” technology from Honda, which is essentially like LEGO for car seats. You have 500,000 ways to adjust and configure the seats, allowing you to have both a comfortable driving position and a sun lounger driving position which is so popular among Passat B5.5 and BMW E46 owners.
Moving on to the interior, another area where a lot of improvement has been done, and the interior practically looks like Nick Offerman during his glory days when the influence of Park and Rec was most noticeable. No more do we have the classic Japanese interior with cheap but robust plastics. The HR-V RV looks like a 2021 car, with Android and Apple connectivity, and even dashboard screens.
Are there any downsides to this car?
Apart from the general issues of the car, which I’ll discuss in the Engines section, there are two major downsides to this car.
- Firstly, for Europe it only comes in hybrid form with a single engine. This severely limits the customer base, but it’s a bet on the future. In Europe, we’re still buying diesel and our interest in hybrids and electric vehicles is slowly emerging, like a star between our legs.
- The second cause for concern is the price. There are only 3 trimes levels, Elegance, Advance and Advance Style, starting at 30,605 pounds with VAT included, before any government incentives. This makes the Honda HR-V RV more expensive than the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, cheaper than a Sportage Hybrid, cheaper than a Peugeot 3008 Hybrid, but more expensive than an Arkana E-Tech. So Honda is positioned in the lower end of the price range, but the biggest issue is that the hybrid segment in Europe is very popular for city cars. Logically. Modern hybrids are especially designed for urban life, where the average price for a hybrid is 20-25,000 pounds. Coming with a car priced at 30,600 pounds, even if it’s competitive, is still abit steep for the typical hybrid buyer.
Honda HR-V RV Engines
- 1.5 L15B and L15ZF of 117 horsepower – We gently start with the old L15B which was carried over from the old HR-V and better known for it’s work done under the bonnet of the Honda Jazz / Fit. Sold mostly in budget countries around the world, where people are not so up their buttocks and they don’t care that much about the latest satnav function or lane depart or other expensive stuff with which you can live without. Sure, you won’t be going too fast too soon, but it’s an honest version of the HR-V and it’s a good old Honda, not an avantgarde one. Simple, reliable but modern looking.
- 1.5 L15C1 Turbo of 178 horsepower – However if you want the honest version of the HR-V but you also want abit of extra grunt because you have abit of extra money, then the turbocharged version of the L15B is the stuff of dreams, and not because this is the Earth’s Dream engine. Just make sure to avoid the carbon build up and put money aside for spark plugs and engine oil as it has quite an appetite for both.
- 1.8 R18Z9 of 141 horsepower – Now onto the North American version of the HR-V, which was replaced in 2021 with the ZR-V so I will have to burp a different review for that one.
- 2.0 K20Z5 of 160 horsepower – Also exclusive to the ZR-V.
- 1.5 Turbo Hybrid e:HEV of 131 horsepower – We have the same 1.5 turbo with dubious reliability, but it runs on Atkinson cycle and doesn’t work too hard, so reliability and oil consumption aren’t a severe issue with this model. Instead, we have two electric motors on the front axle and a hybrid system that switches between electric and internal combustion. It’s not a plug-in hybrid system where the battery needs to be charged separately, it’s not a mild hybrid, it’s a hybrid system that alternates between electric and internal combustion, and the battery charges while driving. The system has already been tested on the Jazz and introduced to the HR-V, and it’s worth every penny. Even all those many pennies. Sure, you pay a lot upfront, but maintenance costs afterward will be low, and fuel consumption will be equally low. The only issue is not forgetting to turn off the car completely and not just the engine before you leave. Make sure you’ve turned everything off because otherwise the car will keep on running, and the next morning you’ll be caught in the parking lot with your pants down. I’ve been through it. And I don’t mean the car.
- 2.0 Hybrid LFC-H4 combined of 184 horsepower – For the ZR-V review, punch here.
Honda HR-V RV Reliability Issues
- The main issue with the HR-V RV is the boot space. It wasn’t spacious to begin with, but that sloping rear window doesn’t help at all. Sure, the adjustable seats help, but how much can they help? Just to give you an idea, the HR-V’s boot capacity is 391 liters, the Yaris Cross has a boot capacity of 397 liters, and a more popular car like the Golf VIII has a boot capacity of 381 liters. Essentially, the HR-V’s boot can accomodate 4 more beer bottles than a Golf’s.
- As with any Japanese car, soundproofing is not the strongest point. But Honda seems to know its customer base well, and noise only becomes bothersome at highway speeds. Being a hybrid crossover, it won’t spend too much time on the highway. It’ll do the school and mall run brilliantly.
Honda HR-V RV Verdict
If you’re a hybrid fan and you’re willing to pay 30,000 – 35,000 pounds for a hybrid (including government incentives), then it’s very difficult to beat the Honda HR-V RV. But are you willing to pay 30,000 – 35,000 euros for a hybrid, when there are so many options in the 20,000 – 25,000 pounds range?
Which engines do I recommend? Pretty much any engine works for the HR-V, and here in Europe we only got the hybrid so that’s that.