HR-V a genuine contender in its segment
DEALERS SAY THE HR-V SPORT MODELS SHOULD BE POPULAR
Honda New Zealand may be latecomers to the compact SUV segment but the company is confident of selling about 700 HR-V models in the next eight months.
They are in one of the hottest but most competitive sectors of the New Zealand vehicle market.
The new HR-V models, starting at $32,900 plus on-road costs, are pitched against the slightly smaller but popular Mazda CX-3, the Holden Trax, Mitsubishi ASX, and Ford Eco-Sport models.
Drivers sit 100mm higher in Honda’s HR-V models compared with the average sedan or wagon.
Honda New Zealand’s marketing manager, Nadine Bell, said the HR-V offered class-leading interior space, with headroom, leg room and shoulder room found normally in much larger vehicles.
New Zealand dealer feedback so far suggested the three HR-V Sport models in the six-model line-up would be the most popular here.
The standard S,VX and VL models come with cruise control, 7-inch display audio touch screen, touch screen climate control, are “navigation capable” via a smart phone app, and include a multi-angle reversing camera, a brake hold function and emergency stop signal.
The three HR-V Sport models, starting at $39,900 plus on-road costs, add a panoramic sky roof, fog lights, 17-inch or 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, keyless entry with push button start/stop, leather seats, front and rear parking sensors, and lane-watch camera among other extras.
The range is fitted with Honda’s Magic Seat system, which can be folded down or back with ease.
It’s a system which has proven so popular in the company’s smaller Jazz models.
Driven sampled the HR-V Sport during the official launch of the models in South Auckland this week, and the 846-mm long glass sky roof provides for a light and airy cabin. The leather seats make for a comfortable and relaxed driving position.
Drivers sit 100mm higher in the HR-V models compared with the average sedan or wagon, and although the SUV is higher off the ground than most sedans, there is easy entry and exit from the vehicle.
The Sport models include the lane watch camera system, where a camera sits on the left wing mirror and displays the left hand side view of the car on the central screen when the left indicator is on.
While initially a little disconcerting, it extends the driver’s view to 80 degrees and reduces the left hand blind spot, making turning left or changing lanes safer.
The Sport models also include the city brake assist system, designed to reduce or avid low speed accidents. The system uses laser radar technology to scan the road ahead, automatically applying the brakes if it detects an imminent risk of collision.
The HR-V is powered by a 1.8 litre i-VTEC petrol engine, combined with the CVT gearbox, and all models are front-wheel-drive.
Nadine Bell says the majority of buyers in the compact SUV segment of the market opt for front wheel drive models only, but Honda had the larger CRV model available in four-wheel-drive as an alternative.
The HR-V is fitted with a new acoustic insulation package that includes sound absorbing carpets of a type usually found only in high-grade sedans, while the front and rear inner wheel arches have also been treated with sound-absorbent material.
All HR-V models also include floor carpet, underfloor cover and dashboard acoustic pad inserts, which contribute to a quieter ride, certainly evident when driving the HR-V, even at the 100km/h speed limit.
Facing the driver is three dial instrument panel featuring “floating” illumination rings, which changes the backlight colour of the speedo from white to green during fuel-efficient driving.
The platform and body of the HR-V use high strength steel and improved frame joint rigidity, and Honda is confident as a result of its own in-house testing that the new models will achieve a five-star AnCap safety rating.
Honda New Zealand has been anxious to get back into the booming compact SUV marketplace here, but it says there have been delays in supply of the vehicles from Thailand because of its popularity in larger markets.
However, it expects to sell around 700 HR-Vs between now and the conclusion of the financial year at the end of March.
If the company succeeds in its plan, the new HR-V will truly eclipse its unlamented and somewhat ungainly predecessor, which sold, only in two-door form, less than half that number in the 1990s. Read more about the Honda HR-V at Driven.co.nz.