COMPACT SUVs are increasingly the pre-eminent choice for family car buyers and, with manufacturers clamouring to get on board the gravy train, there is a bewildering choice available.
Honda's offering in this buoyant sector is the HR-V, which has been around for four years now after reintroducing a nameplate first associated with the brand in the early noughties.
A mild refresh last year kept styling, engines and equipment levels up to date and with its rakish roofline, tapering windows and strong character lines along the flanks, the manufacturer would like you to think of the HR-V as being rather sporty.
In truth, however, although certainly not unattractive, this is a car which tends to blend in rather than stand out from the crowd and its real strengths lie in the long-established Honda virtues, at least where its family-focused models are concerned, of space and practicality.
All versions feature the Japanese carmaker's ‘Magic Seat' system, which offers multiple configuration possibilities for the 60:40 split rear seats depending upon whether passenger or load carrying, or a combination of both, is the priority.
In utility mode, the rear seat backs fold down to form a flat load bay that is almost two metres long for carrying large and bulky items.
Tall mode sees the rear seat bases flip up, cinema style, into a vertical position to create a cargo height of 1.24 metres from floor to ceiling, allowing tall objects to be placed behind the front seats.
Finally, in long mode, the front passenger seat back can be folded backwards and the rear seat back forwards, forming a ‘tunnel' that is able to accommodate items up to 2.44 metres long.
Such versatility means a trip to Ikea or the local tip, for instance, should pose few challenges even for this relatively compact motor!
When not flat-pack furniture shopping, though, and with all the seats in their usual positions the HR-V offers comfortable space for four adults, or five kids, with good rear head and leg room, while the boot, at 470 litres, is generous for the class and will cope with most day-to-day needs.
The quality of the interior also impresses with soft textured materials and contrasting piano black plastic finishes used to good effect to create an upmarket feel, further boosted in our high-spec EX model by plush leather upholstery.
S, SE and Sport grades complete the range with a straightforward choice between 1.5-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines, a turbocharged version of the 1.5-litre being reserved exclusively for Sport versions.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but petrol cars can also be specified with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that ours had.
Like most CVTs, however, this proves a little sluggish to respond, resulting in a wailing engine as the revs build, and you may conclude that it's not worth the extra Â£1,200 or so it adds to the price unless you're absolutely dead set on an automatic.
For a high-riding SUV the HR-V does handle pretty well, though, avoiding overly excessive body roll in bends if driven sensibly and remaining settled and composed on our increasingly dodgy road surfaces.
Steering is light and accurate and, all told, this is an uncomplicated car to drive that copes equally well manoeuvring around town or cruising on the open road.
It's also pretty well equipped, with all versions getting climate control, cruise control, automatic lights, powered and heated wing mirrors, digital radio and automatic emergency braking.
EX trim adds a good many bells and whistles, including a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, lane departure warning and an opening panoramic glass sunroof with sunblind.