Honda ZR-V e:HEV

Advance

Honda ZR-V, 2024, front
Honda ZR-V, 2024, side
Honda ZR-V, 2024, rear
Honda ZR-V, 2024, interior
Honda ZR-V, 2024, dashboard
Honda ZR-V, 2024, rear seats
Honda ZR-V, 2024, boot
Honda ZR-V, 2024, badge

HONDA, once the recognised master builder of small cars and now boasting a range dominated by SUVs, has a new shining star.

The ZR-V slots between the compact HR-V and the recently remodelled CR-V, a large high rider. Based on the latest Civic hatchback, the newcomer combines racy lines with reasonable family practicality and upmarket luxury.

But most of all, it stands out for its refinement and first rate dynamics - the kind of which you expect to find in a sporty saloon. Despite the crisp handling, it rides superbly with a carefully tuned suspension that smoothes out the road imperfections without sacrificing any of the composure during enthusiastic driving.

The cabin bears a marked resemblance to that of the Civic, which is no bad thing - lots of soft touch quality mouldings, robust switchgear and easy to use infotainment screen. The leather seating of the topline Advance version we drove is cosseting and hugely supportive.

Anyone trading down from a large prestige car will certainly not feel disappointed by the level of furnishings and comfort offered by the ZR-V.

There's loads of storage space with a large central cubby and a tray beneath the handbrake and gear control plus the usual door bins.

Legroom front and rear is generous and six-footers will find there's ample headroom. Those in the back are able to slip their feet under the front seats, adding to the feeling of space.

Less impressive is the boot size. With less than 400litres of cargo room, the ZR-V is eclipsed by most rivals including the Mazda CR-5, Ford Puma, Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca. The rear seats split and fold 60/40 but the bench is fixed and cannot be slid forwards to expand luggage space.

With 181bhp to call on, it's not surprising that the self-charging hybrid ,with a 2.0litre petrol engine coupled to two electric motors, feels pleasantly nimble, and this is borne out at by a sub-eight second sprint to 62mph.

Nicely weighted steering - unusual in SUVs - adds to a feeling of solidity and security, yet takes nothing away from the ease of town driving or parking.

In usual Honda style, automatic transmission is via a CVT system. Earlier examples were somewhat irritating with their sewing-machine like freneticism, but the development has all but vanquished this drawback. And with the addition of steering wheel paddles, it impresses for its refinement and ease of driving.

When it comes to economy, the ZR-V gets good marks. Our average of 46mpg despite some fast motorway running and congested city driving, proved more frugal than most rivals.

Standard kit on the Advance includes LED headlights, dual zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, glass panoramic sunroof and Bose sound system.

Emphasising that the ZR-V is more of a crossover than a high-rider, is the fact that it is not offered with option of four-wheel-drive. For most prospective buyers, its front drive system is more than adequate.

A worthwhile addition to the SUV team, the ZR-V may, in fact, be more appealing for some than the bigger CR-V.

£42,895

2.0litre, 181bhp, 4cyl, petrol/hybrid engine driving two wheels via automatic gearbox

108mph

7.9sec

48.7

35E

132g/km

53%

3yrs/60k miles

: 4.3

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