Muddy drives: The All-New Honda HR-V Hybrid
Thinking of trading in your gas-guzzler for something more eco? Here's a handsome, self-charging hybrid you never need to plug in.
Fuel prices are a total shocker a the mo, aren’t they, and set to get worse. Soon you’re going to need a mortgage just to fill up. It’s definitely got the Muddy brain whirring about trading in my gas-guzzling Audi for a lean, green machine, especially as in only eight years sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned altogether. But with only 400 or so electric charging points in Devon, what this intrepid roving reporter needs is a car which won’t leave me stranded in Chudleigh without a charger.
Step up the All-New Honda HR-V Hybrid, a self-charging automatic with all the sporty good looks of an SUV but way more environmentally-friendly, producing 122g/km of CO2 compared to a UK average of 141.8g/km. And you never need to plug it in as it charges while driving. Who wouldn’t fancy the pants off this hot, chilli-coloured cracker? (And the car, hee hee).
Newly launched in Autumn 2021, it comes in a choice of three grades: Elegance, Advance and Advance Style.
I’ve got my sweaty palms clamped to the wheel of the Advance, which comes with a 1.5-litre engine that gives 52.3mpg to the gallon, as well as a heavenly heated steering wheel and heated seats. It also has a pretty cute tailgate close system (which all baby-carrier toting mums should get on prescription) – all adding up to a very stylish car.
A ‘hybrid’ means – as of course you know – it uses more than one means of propulsion, effortlessly switch between two electric motors and a petrol engine. The HR-V’s computers cleverly decide when to run on electricity, petrol power or a mix of the two. That all adds up to fuel savings and eco warrior points, faff-free.
The HR-V gives you options to accessorise it your way, including the Sport Pack (featured), with a black front grille, upgraded front and rear bumper, side decorations and a black rear spoiler extender. These jazzy 18in alloy wheels come as standard. So, we’re looking at a good-looking ride, with all the reliability and affordability of a Honda, and some pretty cool tech as standard. Something for which you’d pay a lot more in, say, a Volkswagen or a Beamer.
Very pretty, with a Rangerover-esque bonnet and a choice of six colour ways, including my metallic red, plus black, khaki, midnight blue, metallic grey and white.
I like how the bonnet and boot are decent-sized but not long and awkward to park. It has night time appeal too, with a snazzy strip of rear LED light bar the whole length of the boot.
In style, it’s somewhere between a coupe and an SUV, in that it’s sleek, neat and four-by-four-like, with usefully chunky side mirrors which tuck themselves away when you park, and integrated rear door handles so discreet it took a minute to find them. I actually thought it was a three door not a five, duh!
Inside, when you shut the door it feels really solid and quality, with a sporty-looking steering wheel, and a neat dash, with a fairly standard, easy to use 9in LED Infotainment System in the centre which integrates with your i-phone and music (though you need a cable for android). There’s a hidden cubby to stash your bits, two bottle holders and just enough room for your water bottle in the door.
It’s a Tardis, with surprisigly good head room (I’m 5ft 6in) and the leg room in the back is mahoosive. You’ll get no complaints from the backseat drivers unless you’ve birthed basket-ballers.
Cynically, I wasn’t expecting much from the folding back seats, which Honda call ‘magic seats’ but they really live up to the hype. Flip forward and they fold down totally flat to extend the boot in one direction or flip them up to create a roomy footwell, perfect for walks with pooch, plant purchases and fold up bikes. Anything tall you want to keep upright…like Idris Elba or Jason Mamoa. Or both.
The boot is fairly average in side with plenty of room for your weekly shop, or five carry-on flight bags. There’s a hidden cubby and toneau cover to deter prying eyes.
This car is a pleasure to drive, really easy. Press the power button to the right of the steering wheel, put the gearstick into drive and you’re off. Where it differs from a petrol or diesel, is on the gear. Slip it into B-mode and whenever you take your foot off the accelerator, it goes into ‘regenerative braking’ which slows the car and charges the battery.
After a while, it becomes second nature to use B-mode in place of the brakes as you would to approach the lights or a stop sign. With a flick of the driver console, you can clock the fuel savings rocketing up. Honda claim 52.3mpg but at one point in the lanes it hit a whopping 105mpg! Okay, it wasn’t for long and you’d never get that travelling at speed on a motorway or dual carriageway, but nonetheless pretty impressive.
As for hills, I put it through its paces – she says coming over all Richard Hammond – on Telegraph Hill, a notoriously steep hill for getting stranded when it snows. Knock it out of of B-mode, back into Drive and using a three way selection next to the main gear, into Sport, and it powered up brilliantly – sure, it’s no Lamborghini but I had no fear of getting stuck behind a lumbering lorry.
THE TECHY BITS
For once, the tech on this car is really interesting because it relates closely to how much money you’re not spending on fuel. I think even technophobes could get pretty geeky, seeing that dashboard dial switching between blue (for fuel) and green (for electric). And you can check the Trip Computer to see your mileage at the end of the journey.
Honda’s Sensing package is a back-up set of eyes and ears to keep you safe, including prior collision notification and automatic emergency braking if it thinks you’re going to hit a pedestrian or the car in front.
Blindspot monitoring means your side mirrors flash should something unseen be in your blind spot when you’re pulling out, and, when you’re reversing, the infotainment screen morphs into a reverse camera – handy for parking in tight spots and awkward driveways like mine where you can’t see what’s coming.
The brake hold feature means when you stop at the lights, or even more usefully at T-junction on a hill, it automatically brakes until you press the accelerator. No more clutch-burning hill starts!
My other fave bit of tech are the tailgate close options. So, if you’re standing next to the shut boot, loaded with shopping bags, a baby carrier and so on you can just wave your foot under the bumper and tadaaa! it magically opens. Alternatively, when you’re unloading your Sainsburys shop, you can press one of two tailgate buttons which waits until you lift it out and clear of getting your bonce bashed and it shuts. Check it out Muddy Devon instagram to see it in action. My only whinge was it didn’t always work for me, while Mr Muddy managed it every time. Temperamental or me not doing it properly? Either way it would be annoying with your hands full when its raining.
Another great time-saver is the Honda App which you can have on your iPhone and even share with other drivers in the family meaning you’ll never be locked out again should you lose your car key.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Gas guzzlers? Who needs ’em?! The Honda HR-V Hybrid is a steal for the looks and clever features, plus it’s currently an offer with Rowes Plymouth until the end of March 2022 (see below). Until there’s a better charging network locally, here’s a seriously sexy solution to range anxiety and mounting fuel costs.
Good for: an interim step to a full electric vehicle; short distances and town drivers; people who live in rural areas with zero charging points; day trips to in-laws or staycations when you don’t want to add hours at a charging point onto your journey; hill-start haters (thank you brake hold); on-street parkers without access to home charging; people who don’t want to wait for a new car – there’s a couple of months until your drive is delivered to the forecourt (compared to eight in some cases due to a shortage of semi-conductors, apparently)
Not for: business commuters, boy racers, people who are daily doing long drives as you won’t make any savings on fuel consumption; people who want a prestige badge on the bonnet; people who can’t be bothered to read a manual – of course, you could just get in and go but for the best fuel economy it pays to learn how to drive it.
The damage: Entry level is from £27,960. This car costs £30,210.00, including a deposit of £6,767.14. Now’s a great time for a test drive as Rowes are running a Five 5s offer until the end of March 2022, including £500 Deposit Contribution, 5 Years Servicing, 5 Years Warranty, 5 Years Roadside Assistance and 5% APR.