Honda HR-V Sport

Honda HR-V Sport, front
Honda HR-V Sport, front
Honda HR-V Sport, front
Honda HR-V Sport, side
Honda HR-V Sport, rear
Honda HR-V Sport, rear
Honda HR-V Sport, rear
Honda HR-V Sport, interior
Honda HR-V Sport, interior

AMONG the tsunami of SUVs that are currently flooding car showrooms - one third of all cars sold are now high-riders - one particular model stands out.

I'm thinking of the racy but somewhat understated Honda HR-V Sport.

Yes, it's taller than a saloon and roomier than most too, but unlike most of its rivals the five-door crossover drives and handles more like a hot hatch than a jacked-up runabout.

With a useful 180bhp being churned out from the 1.5-litre petrol VTEC turbo engine, it's hardly surprising acceleration is on the brisk side - 0 to 62mph in under eight seconds to be exact.

But more significant that boy racer statistics is the way it conducts itself. With a relatively low centre of gravity chunky 7.5-inch black alloys shod with low profile rubber, it is well equipped to hug the road and sweep through bends as if on rails.

Stiffer dampers and modified suspension cut down body roll to a minimum with little harm to the excellent ride quality. The unseen tweaks are completed by the variable ratio electrically assisted rack and pinion steering which allows much more road-feel than the standard car.

Of course, there's a degree of showroom razzle-dazzle to give the Sport version extra appeal and justify its price tag of just under £28,000. High gloss black external trim, bulging wheel arches, side skirts and special bumpers give the car more road presence yet allow it to remains discrete enough.

A bit on the driving before we deal with the essential practicalities. One of the nicest things about Hondas is usually their manual gearboxes - slick, ultra smooth and a joy to row between the ratios. This memory goes back to the two Honda S2000 models I own owned consecutively, and the same precision engineering is very much in evidence in the HR-V today. Delightfully crisp with a perfect short throw action.

Despite the car's sporty nature it remains relaxed and quiet over long runs and demands little of the driver if you are in a lazy mood. Floor the accelerator and there's a throaty snarl from the VTEC just to remind you what's beneath the bonnet.

For the young family, it's roomy enough in the front and there's reasonably legroom in the back. The boot holds a generous 430 litres of luggage which expands to 1,473 litres when the rear seats are flipped down.

The cabin is pleasantly styled with wine-red coloured leather seating and black fabric inserts, plus flashes of the rich red across the fascia. It all seems to work well and helps create an upmarket, youthful feel.

Sat nav, seven-inch touch screen, LED headlights, folding door mirrors, rain sensing wipers, heated front seats and front and rear parking sensors are all in with the price making it among the best specced SUVs around.

FAST FACTS

Honda HR-V Sport

Price:£27,840

Mechanical:180bhp, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 7.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 42.2

Insurance Group: 27

C02 emissions: 151g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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