Honda’s HR-V city-sized soft-roader had a minor makeover mid-year, adding built-in satnav as standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still not available. The VTi-L is $37,000 drive-away, which is pricey, although it does include leather-appointed seats, electric seat adjustment for the driver, heated front seats, a panorama sunroof, dual zone aircon and rear privacy glass. For this sort of money you could get into a well equipped Mazda CX-5, which is the next size up. Warranty is a generous five years but capped price servicing costs are expensive at $1463 for three years driving average distances.
The HR-V is one of the roomiest cars in the class, with its ingenious back seat able to fold flat to create a massive cargo hold. Visibility all around is excellent and most cabin controls are user-friendly except for the lack of a volume knob on the audio touchscreen. Despite the tapered roof line the back seat space is among the most generous in the class. The cabin is a bit raucous when the engine starts to rev, and the tyre noise is quite apparent on back roads.
Automatic emergency braking is standard, as are six airbags and a five-star safety rating. The VTi-L also has front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera and brilliant LED headlights.
The 1.8-litre petrol engine (105kW/172Nm) is quite big by class standards but it lacks a turbocharger and is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which means it’s no ball of fire. CVTs feel like they’re slipping rather than accelerating but the HR-V does a respectable job of doing the most with the available power. Overall, the HR-V is one of the most secure and fun-to-drive cars in the baby SUV class and does a decent job of disguising its Jazz hatchback origins. It’s relatively frugal (a claimed 6.9L/100km) and runs on regular unleaded. Around town, though, expect to get closer to 9 to 10L/100km.
Mazda’s CX-3 is the top seller in the class. It looks stunning but is noisy to drive and is frustratingly small in the cabin and cargo areas.
The Holden Trax at $23,990 drive-away is a relative bargain. It has a cheaper looking cabin but it’s roomy, zippy and economical.
The Toyota C-HR is the closest challenger to the Honda. The Toyota has a quality feel, is loaded with equipment and looks expensive — until you compare it to the price of the Honda.