So took the Australian spec HRV Vti-L for a test drive:
The renders and promotional material are really a disservice to how the vehicle looks. It is a very modern and smart looking vehicle especially with the jewel headlight and tube tail light clusters. The character line across the side panelling is far less jarring when seen in person and fits the vehicle well. The ruse black is beautiful with a slight grey/purple hue however I would have liked the purple to be more prominent which would have looked truly unique on the road.
The interior finish exceeded my expectations. I was surprised that essentially the entire upper half of the doors in both the front and back were soft to touch. The material used for the forward dash, edges of the centre console and adjustable front arm rest are a firmer material but soft to touch as well. Silver accents stand out superbly from the contrast of dark materials throughout the cabin. However while the abundance of glossy black looks nice it is a notable fingerprint magnet and may be prone to scratches. I became particularly enamoured by the speedometer which has a concave design to the dials creating a sense of depth and the illusion of the needle seemingly floating above the markers. The front cupholders are dynamic and can adjust easily to become a large storage compartment using a unique folding mechanism which almost doubles its depth. The rear magic seats perform their usual wizardry but also provide the ability to recline further back for comfort. I'm 5 foot 10 inches and found headroom and legroom in the back to be generous even with the front seats pushed back all the way... except for the rear centre seat which saw my hair brushing the roof line, a problem not present in models without the panoramic sunroof. I was quite pleased the sunshade for the sunroof is completely opaque and blocks all light to keep the cabin cool when closed unlike some manufacturers who insist on a 'translucent' type finish. The boot is large with a minimal lip allowing you to drag luggage easily in and out however there are no shopping bag hooks which seem almost like a standard feature for this vehicle class. Materials used for the boot lip and lower bumper are a rougher matte plastic which should hide scuffs easily. Disappointingly the boot/cabin divider is a cheap piece of fabric with a flexible wire frame which does not retract or rise (but can be removed). Use of touch controls for the climate control appear nice but are less practical when driving. The glove box is also very small and not climate controlled despite the multitude of vents located directly above it. The air vents on the passenger side are designed to try and provide more air to the rear passengers by varying airflow speed laterally but it was hard to direct them to do so accordingly. There are no dedicated air vents for the rear passengers and the rear armrest was very short. Also the latch for opening the front passenger centre armrest cubby becomes hidden when you adjust the armrest forward meaning you have to retract the arm rest each time you want to open it, a flaw not present in other vehicles with this feature.
Unfortunately, while the exterior and interior finish exceeded my expectations the drive did not. The 1.8L engine feels adequate for the most part but is far from inspiring when pushed. While driving on level roads the gearbox provides a pleasant smoothness to the ride. However on steep inclines the CVT and engine creates a whine which is not matched with any significant improvement in your speed (and this is just with two passengers with no luggage). I cannot help but feel this vehicle would do better with Honda’s newer earth dreams direct injection engines and their 7 speed DSG. Nevertheless it is still superior to the Suzuki S-Cross's woefully underpowered 1.6L engine and CVT. Suspension is firm but not overly harsh like the BMW 2AT or Mini Countryman. Nevertheless bumps were felt throughout the cabin when driving along a rough concrete road which the Holden Trax and S-Cross seemingly handled better. Hitting a manhole provided a definite shudder. While ride firmness is somewhat forgivable for stability of a taller body (or greater sportiness) the reality was on curvy roads at moderate speed there was noticeable body roll. The body roll was not as bad as the Trax but a definitely worse than other vehicles I had test driven on the same route. On the plus side the A-pillars are thin enough to minimise forward blind spots and the enlarged C Pillars are less of an issue with the impressive lane watch blind spot camera. Seats were supportive with good lumbar support despite it not being adjustable and the driving position was spot on.
While the fit and finish was excellent I felt the drive did let it down. We drove the base model Skoda Yeti directly after the HRV and difference in drive quality was quite notable with the Skoda outperforming the HRV in practically every way. For close to AUD$40K for the top of line model I would also expect navigation to be part of the package. Its exclusion in the Australian market is unfortunate and the phone app integration inadequate. So all in all, a bit of a mixed bag. Not quite a hit but not quite a miss either.
I took a few photos, mostly of things I didn't think you could find photos of elsewhere:
Dynamic front cup holders/cubby (transition from large cubby to cup holders):
Concave Dial Design
Rear Bottle holder with power outlet
Centre Cubby and Glove Box
Two levels of recline for back seats
For fantastic professional shots of the cars interior and exterior I found this Thai review:
http://www.grandprix.co.th/gpinews/honda-hr-v-%E0%B8%84%E0%B8%B1%E0%B8%99%E0%B8%99%E0%B8%B5%E0%B 9%89-%E0%B8%9C%E0%B8%A1%E0%B8%99%E0%B8%B5%E0%B9%88%E0%B 8%8A%E0%B8%AD%E0%B8%9A%E0%B9%80%E0%B8%A5%E0%B8%A2-%E0%B8%AA%E0%B8%A7%E0%B8%A2/