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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor

Honda HR-V struggles to impress in crowded compact SUV segment

New model has lots of bells and whistles, but will find the going tough against its rivals.

Liquorice Allsorts are described as the original play food that offer a super-fun eating experience with a range of liquorice and fruity-flavoured sweets in all sorts of colours, shapes, sizes, and textures. There’s something for everyone!

But some of the sweets taste a bit better than the others that look pretty much the same. And of course, we all have our favourite ones in the packet and those we just don’t like. I personally don’t like the ones that are covered with the coloured little candy balls.

We all have our preferences and this somewhat left-field analogy applies to being a vehicle on offer in the compact SUV segment of the market right now.

There are just so many choices out there for the consumer. And they too come in all sorts of cool colours and shapes, but only when you bite into them do you realise, they are not ultimately all the same.

Cool-looking Honda HR-V

This is exactly what happened with the all-new Honda HR-V that I got to live with for a week recently.

From the outside, the HR-V is quite cool-looking in my opinion. Okay, maybe the styling is a bit polarising, but at least it is not cut-and-paste of some other model.

Honda HR-V
The taillight strip running across the width of the tailgate is a standout feature of the Honda HR-V.

When opening it up, things were still going well. I felt the interior had a decent amount of room and an air quality about it.

The now well-known and very versatile rear Magic Seat setup that offers both fold-flat or flip-up seat flexibility remains. I didn’t put all the configurations to test, but I did chuck my mountain bike in the back sans front wheel and it went in with no problem.

ALSO READ: New Honda HR-V shines but needs one major improvement

There is a high resolution eight-inch touch-screen display audio which is integrated into the instrument panel and offers the full functionality of a smartphone via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There are also two USB charging sockets in the front and the two in the rear and on our top-of-the-range Executive model, a wireless charging pad.

This ensures that whoever is in the HR-V with you can charge or connect to the car’s infotainment system. A very much modern requirement.

Tailgate wagging the dog

Staying with the practical, I liked the convenience of the hands-free Power Tailgate but not the Walk Away Close function so much.

The smart key proximity function detects when the key is moving away from the car, and automatically starts closing the tailgate.

Honda HR-V
The Honda HR-V’s cabin keeps up with all modern requirements.

This is great in theory, but not so great when you have the key with you and walk away to get some more cycling gear to load and the tailgate closes, and you must open it again.

The good news is that it can be switched off, or you can simply leave the key in the Honda HR-V when doing multiple load up trips.

On the safety front, you are properly taken care of by the likes of Vehicle Stability Assist, Brake Assist System, Hill Start Assist, Automatic Brake Hold and something called Honda Sensing.

This active safety technology offers the likes of Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Auto High-Beam and Lanewatch.

Honda HR-V falls short

But where it goes all wrong for me is when you get to the biting into it part. The HR-V’s 89kW/145Nm 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine is lethargic at best and is made worse by the CVT that complains all the time when asked to do anything more than trundle along sedately.

I honestly hated going out on the highway with HR-V, and the fuel consumption during my time also settled at around 8.0-litres per 100 km, which is not great.

There is no easy way to say this, but the Honda HR-V might have several bells and whistles going for it. But at R554 500, there are just too many other better flavoured Liquorice Allsorts in the packet for me to recommend this one.

For more information on the Honda HR-V, visit the manufacturer’s website.

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