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A day with The Honda HR-V e:HEV

At first glance, you would be hard pressed to think that this SUV carries a Honda badge. Honda has really stepped up the game with the styling of this very compact SUV. You could almost say the timing for the release of this petrol/electric hybrid is just right, with the fast-approaching ban of the sale of full Petrol and Diesel vehicles. Honda had to make a statement with this SUV to alert rivals of their intent to join the Hybrid development.

The Honda HR-V e:HEV comes in three trim levels; Elegance, Advance and Advance Style. The lowest of the trim levels still come with a good level of standard equipment, with the Advance level adding a heated leather steering wheel, USB ports and a contactless automatic tailgate which can be opened by moving your foot underneath.  The top-spec Advance Style incorporates wireless charging, premium audio speakers and a host of other clever options. Regardless of the model you choose, everything inside feels very premium and high quality. The dashboard is nicely laid out nicely, without feeling overwhelming. The 9” Honda Connect touchscreen is also quite intuitive and responsive, with clear graphics. This touchscreen is standard across all trim levels.

At the time of writing, prices start from £27,960 for the base trim, rising to £32,660 for the higher trim version. All models utilise the 1.5 litre eCVT Petrol/Electric hybrid drivetrain, driving the front wheels only. The eCVT highlights the type of gearbox used in this SUV, which is a Continuously Variable Transmission.

Performance figures published are stated as: 0-60 in 10.6secs with a top speed of 106. This all courtesy of the 131bhp produced from the 1.5 litre engine combined with the electric motors. 

Fuel economy figures from Honda shows are 39.8mpg at the lowest end of the scale, climbing to 68.9mpg in some cases. The average is therefore published as 52.3mpg. In terms of emissions, it has a combined CO2 of 122g/km.

There are three modes to play with: Eco, Normal and Sport. In eco mode, as the name suggests, the SUV tries to run in the most efficient mode possible, to return the best fuel economy. Normal mode uses a similar approach but will readily utilise the engine to give more response when required, such as during an overtake. The most aggressive or more involving mode is the Sport mode, which combines the electric motors and the engine, to give the highest possible power output. In this mode fuel economy is greatly reduced, whiles the CVT holds out the gears a bit longer for better acceleration. The ride is very comfortable, and the whole vehicle is extremely composed, considering the higher centre of gravity. At anywhere between 1380kg – 1401kg, the weight has been kept in check considering the amount of clever tech hidden away inside this SUV. One would assume a higher weight just by looking at the dimensions of it.

During certain driving conditions, the clever hybrid system is able to sore up some energy to be deployed later, such as cruising on the motorway at a constant speed, where it will switch to mainly electric propulsion. When acceleration is required, the engine kicks back in seamlessly to work with the electric motors to propel you along. 

There is one other option that may seem odd to most drivers, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes natural. This is what I like to term “the single-pedal driving”. This basically means you can accelerate and brake using just one pedal. Using just the throttle pedal, push down to accelerate as normal, but when it comes to braking, simply lift off and the car would do all the braking for you. That, I believe, is an incredible feature which I first encountered in all electric Honda e city car. The added extra of using this incredible feature is the fact that the braking phase helps charge up the batteries to be utilised by the electric motors when required.

This compact SUV is extremely practical for the given shape and dimensions. The rear seats fold upwards as well as folding down in clever ways to accommodate different loads. Despite the sloping roof, there is a great amount of headroom in the back for taller passengers, and ample legroom. The boot is able to swallow up a fair amount of luggage, with room for more with the back seats folded away.

With the ever looming ban coming along very quickly, this will be very good entry level introduction into the hybrid phase for a seasoned petrol/diesel car owner looking to make a change into modern car technology, or for an already established hybrid car user looking to make a change for extra space, some luxury and comfort, whiles looking the part too.

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