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Honda HR-V Car Review

Author: NRMA MotoringDate: 1 June 2000

The futuristically styled body of the Honda HR-V has been stretched to accommodate an extra door on each side of the rear giving more space and easier access to the rear seats. In so doing, the additional doors and length have improved its overall looks.

Released in January 1999, the CR-V's little brother was designed as a recreational fun vehicle with a 'Go anywhere', compact four wheel drive tag. Just eighteen months later this longer, roomier version has been produced to fill a gap in the market that requires better access to the rear seats, plus additional passenger space.

At the lower end of this compact four wheel drive market there is limited competition with only Daihatsu Terios and Suzuki Jimny being serious contenders.

With the introduction of the five-door HR-V the Sports Wagon has been deleted leaving only two models available, both of which are available in manual or the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Prices begin at $22,750 for the three-door manual and peak at $26,950 for the top-of-the-line five-door CVT version.

Standard features in the HR-V include central locking with remote key, power windows, driver and passenger airbags, retractable power mirrors, roof rails with integrated roof spoiler, body-coloured bumpers and side sills and a four speaker radio cassette. Air conditioning, alloy wheels, CD player and automatic (CVT) transmission are optional.

The new five-door model retains the original 1.6 litre SOHC four cylinder engine and matches it with either a five speed manual transmission or an automatic (CVT) option that provides the most suitable ratio between the engine and the drive wheels in accordance with the driving conditions. Honda is proud of its clean engine achievement in the HR-V and claims it was the first petrol powered recreational vehicle to meet the stringent LEV (Low Emission Vehicle) standard.

Power is transmitted to all four wheels through Honda's Real-Time four-wheel drive system, which uses hydraulics to detect slip at the front wheels and applies a clutch to engage drive to all four wheels, only when needed.

McPherson struts with coil springs are used in the front suspension and an independently sprung drive axle is used at the rear. Both front and rear are fitted with anti-roll bars and gas pressurised dampers.

A combination of power assisted front disc and rear drum brakes provides the HR-V's stopping power, and variable ratio, power assisted rack and pinion steering is utilised.

Apart from the obvious extra length and additional doors, there are no other major changes to the HR-V's appearance. Minor changes include fog lights in the front bumper, move the high level stoplight to the rear spoiler and add two extra colours to the list. The front seatbelts are now height adjustable and the external mirrors incorporate power fold-back for passing through narrow places.

Space in the front cabin area is unchanged, however, rear seat legroom has increased by almost 100mm. All storage areas remain much the same as the previous three-door model, with a handy moulded tray positioned on top of the underfloor temporary spare wheel. All instruments are clearly marked and all controls within easy reach from the driver's seat and the tilt adjustable steering column enables a variety of driving positions.

The main difference between the previous test vehicle and this one, is the CVT transmission. This system does not have any definite change points, as in a regular automatic, because it constantly varies the drive ratio between the engine and drive wheels giving the impression of a slipping clutch. When accelerating from a standing start, on a hill or in overtaking mode, the engine revs increase to between 4000 and 5000 rpm and remain fairly constant while the vehicle's road speed increases to a point where the load on the engine decreases and its revs start to lower. While driving along in a constant low load situation, the drive appears normal until acceleration mode is applied again. Two buttons on the steering wheel provide a 'D' position for normal driving and an 'S' position for sports or faster acceleration, where engine revs readily reach 6000 rpm. There was an increase in fuel consumption compared with the three-door manual version previously tested.

The HR-V's suspension is firm as would be expected, however, it has the ability to absorb most of the bumps and give a comfortable ride with confident and precise handling characteristics.


With an increase in length and the addition of two doors, the five-door HR-V is not only roomier, but it is more aesthetically pleasing. Its style and appeal is obviously aimed at the young at heart making it ideal as a fun and leisure vehicle as well as a city commuter. Most HR-V's will be purchased in manual form, however, automatic transmission buyers should be aware that the CVT has a quite unique operation.

Test vehicle supplied by Honda Australia Pty Ltd.

Quick Facts

Make Honda
Model HR-V
Category Compact SUV
Year 2000
Body type SUV
Price of vehicle tested $22,750

Rear passenger space
Quiet smooth operation


Off-road ability
Fuel consumption
Temporary spare wheel

Country of manufacture Japan
Warranty Three years, 80,000 km
Models Available

3 door manual & CVT
5 door manual & CVT


$22,750 - 3 door manual
$26,950 - 5 door CVT



Number of cylinders 4
Engine size 1.6 L
Induction Multipoint fuel injection
Fuel ULP
Claimed max power (kW) 77 kW @ 6200 rpm
Claimed max torque (Nm) 138 Nm @ 3400 rpm


Type CVT


Wheel type Steel
Wheel size 15 "


Type Dunlop
Dimensions SP10 195/70R15


Type Power assisted rack and pinion
Turns to lock 2.8 m
Turning circle (measured) 11.25 m


Mass 1242 kg
Length 4105 mm
Width (including mirrors) 1995 mm
Height 1580 mm
Fuel capacity 55 litres


Max towed mass (trailer plus load) 800 kg

NRMA Theft Rating

Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best) 63.5

Acceleration - Test results

50 - 80km/h 4.9 secs
60 - 100km/h 7.8 secs
0 - 80km/h 8.7 secs
0 - 100km/h 13.2 secs

Fuel Consumption

Best recorded during testing 9.0 L/100km
Worst recorded during testing 11.4 L/100km
Average on test 9.8 L/100km


Distance to stop (from 80km/h) 29.5 metres


Interior noise at constant 80km/h 62.5 dB(A)

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