Honda HR-V: Competent, agile and versatile

HONDA can claim to have ‘invented’ the SUV-like crossover in 1999 with the HR-V. Despite its angular, practical, taller bodywork and 4×4 as a cost option, it wasn’t a success, writes Huw Thomas.

No Diesel engine was offered and petrol power had little appeal in Europe for a vehicle of that type at the time. Initially too it was 3-door only. It wasn’t replaced in 2005 and two years later Nissan launched the Qashqai. The rest, as they say… However, Honda returned to the fray in 2013 with an all-new, distinctly styled HR-V which came here in 2014. By then Honda had a modern 1.6i-DTEC Diesel engine already fitted to the Civic (lower-medium hatch) and CR-V (a compact SUV-like vehicle). The New Holland adds further models to its T5 range FARMERS got their first look at New Holland’s recently launched T5 Utility tractor range alongside its latest round and square baler models at Grassland and Muck at the end of May. New Holland has added a further five models to its T5 range of tractors to complete the mid-range tractor line up. The latest Utility models offer between 75 and 114 hp and continue the heritage of New Holland’s well-regarded T5000 series – 24×24 Dual Command transmission, capable performance and compact size, and all at a competitive price. The larger, three model T5 Tier 4B Electro Command range launched in 2016, offers between 99 and 117hp with a semi powershift ElectroCommand™ transmission, upgraded styling and optional cab and axle suspension. New T5 Utility tractors can be specified with a choice of two – or four-wheel drive on all Synchro-Shuttle models (fourwheel drive on all others), plus a wide choice of transmissions including Dual Command, Power Shuttle, and Creep-speed to suit individual requirements. Loader-ready, the T5 can support a maximum lift capacity of up to 2,539kg with a maximum lifting height of 3.7m from New Holland’s 740TL front loader. For added versatility a front linkage is also available, offering a lift capacity of 1,670 kg combined with a 1000-speed PTO. Rear lift capacity is impressive, with a maximum of 4,400kg with a second assist ram. A three-speed PTO featuring ECO and ground speed increases the number of implements that can be used and reduces fuel consumption. And New Holland hasn’t forgotten the operator either. In the spacious VisionViewTM cab, drivers benefit from an ergonomic control layout, a choice of seats and air conditioning, along with a full width high visibility roof panel for improved safety, particularly when operating a front loader. The Heavy Duty (class 1.5) front axle, available on the T5.95, 105 and 115, gives greater load carrying capacity, also enhancing these tractors for loader work. Alongside the first showing of the New Holland T5 Utility tractor, the extensively renewed and upgraded RollBaler 125 and BigBaler 1290 Plus models were on display at Grassland and Muck. The RollBaler 125 offers the best choice in fixed round chamber baling for silage or straw – even when working with heavy grass, dense hay or large, dry, brittle straw swaths. Boasting a new, wider pick-up measuring 2.3m, giving an additional 10cm on the previous model, the RollBaler 125 delivers best-in-class efficiency. A new, advanced roller reduces crop losses even in dry conditions, ensuring consistent and superior bale density. The new flagship BigBaler 1290 Plus is New Holland’s largest, square baler yet and has a host of unique features. From IntelliCruiseTM technology for tractor ground speed regulation to its SmartFillTM feed flow indicators for even bale formation, it is worthy of its best-in-class titles. Nothing is left behind when using the BigBaler 1290 Plus. The new biomass kit makes short work of stiff and stalky biomass material and the MaxiSweepTM pick-up design improves productivity over high tonnage windrows. The BigBaler 1290 Plus raises the bar on durability and reliability, with improved wear resistance and easier maintenance for reduced stoppages. NEW HOLLAND T5. company did have a good 2.2-litre Diesel prior to this but it was too big. Petrol remains an option for the HR-V however with a 1.5i-VTEC unit as an alternative. Vezel is the HR-V’s name in Japan and both a petrolelectric hybrid and 4×4 variants are available there. North America has a further choice of a 1.8 (automatic) with 4×4. Here, unfortunately, it’s frontwheel- drive only. A pity as the 1.6D with 6-speed manual gearbox and (on demand) 4×4 would work well (as it does with the CR-V). According to the company, however, there is just not enough customer interest. That aside the HR-V does have a lot going for it. A 5-door hatch based on the Jazz (super-mini) platform, cabin is spacious with a particularly versatile rearseat. It folds flat (60-40 split) or upwards, backrests recline and the two sections also slide fore-aft. So, a wide range of use for the back of the car either as a ‘boot’ with passengers or (larger) load-space. It is more of a lower-medium car than something smaller. Model line-up: S, SE, SE Navi and EX (£19,090- £26,630). Both petrol and Diesel come with a 6-speed manual transmission (or CVT auto for about £1,100 extra on the petrol). The manual gearbox is a slick, well-matched ‘box and the more obvious choice as is the Diesel. This produces plentiful torque, readily available which makes for a strong through-gear response. Premium for the Diesel is around £1,800 – expensive but unless annual mileage is small and driving undemanding, it’s the one. On test: Diesel EX 6-speed manual; £26,630. Compared to the SE/SE Navi (Sat-Nav; £23,015/£23,625) EX adds a glass roof/sun-roof, reversing camera, roof rails, heated front seats, rear privacy (dark) glass, height adjust for the front passenger seat and leather interior. SE has 17” alloy wheels (S/16”), front fog lights, dual-zone Air-Con, ‘Honda Connect’ 7” touchscreen together with front & rear park-assist. The small SUV-like crossover class is huge these days but among the HR-V’s more apparent competitors are Nissan’s Juke, Renault Captur, Skoda Yeti, Kia Soul, Suzuki Vitara and FIAT 500X. Apart from the Captur and Soul, all offer a 4×4 option. It’s not cheap though and not far away price-wise is a choice array of more ambitious SUV-like fare such as SEAT’s Ateca and Nissan Qashqai/Renault Kadjar. That said however the HR-V offers typical Honda engineering refinement in a competent, agile and versatile smaller crossover. Facts & Figures: Max.119mph; 0-62mph 10.5-secs; 68.9mpg (official combined); 50-57 (TripComputer averages); CO2 108g/km; Road Tax £140 (1st year & thereafter); Insurance Group 20E.

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