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Tested: The SUV with ‘magic seats’

The Honda HR-V small SUV has one of the smartest interiors in the business, but is a spacious cabin enough to fend off the new kids on the SUV block? We find out.Here is everything you need to know about the Honda HR-V RS. VALUEHonda’s four-tier HR-V range starts at about $29,300 drive-away and tops…

The Honda HR-V small SUV has one of the smartest interiors in the business, but is a spacious cabin enough to fend off the new kids on the SUV block? We find out.

Here is everything you need to know about the Honda HR-V RS.

VALUE

Honda’s four-tier HR-V range starts at about $29,300 drive-away and tops out at about $40,000. We are in the RS — the third variant on the totem pole — priced from about $37,000.

The RS is the sporty-themed version, which means there is no added performance but there are gloss black and dark chrome exterior elements, plus big 18-inch alloy wheels to give it more street appeal.

There is an adequate level of connectivity and infotainment technology included as standard but families might feel short-changed on the level of active safety equipment.

All Hondas are covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, while servicing will cost you a little more than $1500 over five years. The 10,000km service intervals are more frequent than rivals.

COMFORT

The HR-V cabin is one of the best thought out and spacious in the business, but after five years on sale, its tech has fallen behind rivals.

There are soft-touch materials in all the right places covering the dash and contact points, while heated faux leather seats offer great support on long journeys.

Infotainment is taken care of by a smallish seven-inch touchscreen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There is plenty of storage and a clever centre console shelf allows you to hide your phone and cables out of sight. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter give the RS a more premium feel.

The lack of a digital speedo and no aircon vents or USB charging points for rear seat passengers is disappointing for the price.

The HR-V wins back points for its large boot, complemented by Honda’s “Magic Seats”, which have 18 different position combinations allowing you to fit items of almost any shape.

SAFETY

The HR-V received a five-star ANCAP safety rating back in 2015, but since then it has fallen well behind the pack.

The only features of note are six airbags, autonomous emergency braking and “lanewatch”, which broadcasts video of the lane next you on the centre screen when you engage the indicators.

You’ll have to go up a grade to get forward collision warning, auto high beam and lane departure warning, but no sign of active cruise control.

DRIVING

All HR-V variants are powered by the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 105kW and 172Nm, which is about average.

This is matched to a CVT automatic, which can be slow on the uptake. There’s a noticeable lag before power is delivered.

The RS feels light and zippy in traffic, with good manoeuvrability and sharp, direct steering.

Soft suspension makes for a smooth ride, with the shocks absorbing most bumps and lumps effectively. It leans noticeably in corners, though, as expected from a high-riding SUV with softer suspension.

On the freeway the HR-V feels sturdy and competent. It sips a respectable 6.7L/100km and only requires regular unleaded fuel.

VERDICT 3/5

Honda’s little SUV is smart and spacious inside, but a lack of safety equipment compared to rivals and an ageing interior lacking in tech work against it.

ALTERNATIVES

Kia Seltos Sport Plus CVT, from $33,990

Stylish SUV is slightly bigger and comes with all the latest safety features and plenty of interior tech, plus Kia’s benchmark seven-year warranty. Servicing is expensive.

Hyundai Kona Elite, from about $34,300

Willing engine and good driving dynamics. Can feel a little basic at higher grades though, and it is relatively thirsty.

Mitsubishi ASX Exceed, from $35,990

Slightly bigger SUV is loaded with equipment and can be had with a seven-year warranty. Has an ageing interior and is a below par drive.

HONDA HR-V RS VITALS

PRICE From about $37,000 drive-away

WARRANTY/SERVICING 5 year, u’ltd km / $1559 over 5 yrs, 12 month, 10,000km intervals

ENGINE 1.8-litre four-cylinder, 105kW/172Nm

SAFETY 5 star, 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, reversing camera and parking sensors

THIRST 6.7L/100km

BOOT 437L

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