Small crossovers as a group aren’t exactly known for being spacious. None of them are especially so; indeed, mother nature has not yet devised a creature that will comfortably fit in the back seats of a Nissan Juke.
There’s an exception to every rule, though, and the Honda HR-V is it.
It’s exactly the same size as the Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X and Vauxall Mokka – give or take a few millimetres – but is significantly more spacious than any of them.
The boot is huge and square and there’s another big space under the floor. The back seats actually can accommodate a pair of quite large adults, too; besides generous legroom, there’s far more headroom that the HR-V’s coupe-ish shape would lead you to think, even with our car’s sunroof.
The interior is a nice place to be, too. The materials are good quality, there’s plenty of light and the dashboard is sensibly laid out. I’m not sure about the touchscreen infotainment system, though. It’s reasonably responsive, but navigating between screens got confusing quickly and the Bluetooth wouldn’t connect to my ‘phone.
It’s a sprightly thing to drive. The 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine may not appear particularly well-endowed with 118bhp and 221lb/ft, but I never found it lacking punch. Only having 1300-ish kilos to lug around helps keep the performance peppy and the fuel consumption high; mid-50s was easily achieved on the motorway.
It feels light behind the wheel, too, thanks to accurate, communicative steering, tight body control and a compliant ride. It doesn’t exactly encourage you to fling it down a B-road, but it will play along happily enough; that translates to a useful wieldiness in town.
But the best bit of the driving experience turned out to be the six-speed manual gearbox. It’s position on the high-set centre console takes a bit of getting used to, but it has a lovely, snickety short throw.
I drove the HR-V on its launch in Portugal last year; I liked it then and I still do now. It’s by far the most complete car in its class and has the space to compete with cars further up the scale. And if you judge it against bigger cars, the price is easier to swallow.
Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual; front-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 118bhb; 221lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 68.9mpg; 108g/km
Top speed: 119mph
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By Only Motors