By Mike Torpey on 2017-02-12 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Honda HR-V 1.6
THE Honda HR-V, or High Rider Vehicle as the Japanese company billed it back in the day, was around long before any smart aleck had whistled up the crossover concept.
It's a decade since that first generation model made its exit - and the compact SUV that's belatedly taken over the nameplate is lower slung and more stylish.
While the original was a three-door offering the latest HR-V comes only as a five-door, at the same time giving the impression of a coupe, courtesy of its recessed rear door handles.
Smaller than its CR-V stablemate, it nonetheless makes the most of its dimensions with the amount of passenger and luggage space on offer as well as affording its owners a smart cabin experience.
Part of that is down to the car's centre-mounted fuel tank layout, which frees up the underfloor space beneath the rear seats - allowing for the Japanese brand's Magic Seat system.
It is a popular feature on many Honda models and enables each of the 60:40 split second-row seats to adopt one of three modes - Utility, Tall and Long - from the standard seating position.
The result is excellent versatility, loads of rear passenger space and when you factor in an above average size boot - 470 litres with the rear seats upright, increasing to 1,533 litres with them folded - it all amounts to a car that punches above its weight as a practical crossover.
And an acoustic insulation package developed expressly for the HR-V comprising a non-woven underlay and sound-absorbing carpets ensure it's a quiet one too.
The Honda is up for grabs with the choice of a 1.5-litre petrol engine developing 130ps or the tested 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel with 120ps, both of which are part of the company's Earth Dreams Technology series.
The diesel features a small, high-efficiency turbocharger and while it isn't the most spirited of engines, its fuel consumption of an official 68.9 miles per gallon is terrific. In fact my own return of 62mpg from mixed suburban and open road driving was way beyond expectation.
It drives well too, with a short, easy-shift gearlever for the six-speed manual transmission, though there is the option of a CVT automatic for the petrol models.
Three trim grades of S, SE and EX are available, all well specced up, and if you go for top level it includes leather upholstery in a classic black finish and an opening panoramic glass sunroof.
Honda's new Smart Touch Interior is designed to ensure the driver can operate buttons and switches with minimal movement and effort - which complements a well designed and put together cabin.
Facing the driver is a three-dial instrument binnacle with ‘floating' illumination rings and Honda's ECO Assist function, which changes the backlight colour of the speedo from white to green during fuel-efficient driving.
Mid and upper grade models also get the Honda CONNECT infotainment set-up with its app-based interface and ‘pinch, swipe and tap' of a smartphone. It is an option on the base model.
The HR-V's only downside is a common one, a perched and uncomfortable centre rear seating position.
Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX
Mechanical: 120ps, 1,597cc 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 10.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 68.9
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 108g/km
Bik rating: 21%
Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles
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