2018 Honda HR-V RS FWD

New car review.

Honda is billing the new RS model as the star of the recently updated HR-V range of small SUVs. It’s aimed at buyers chasing a sportier look and driving experience from their HR-V.

Larger 18-inch alloy wheels with machined face and dark highlights unique to the RS, black-chrome grille, black mirror caps, dark chrome door handles, honeycomb lower grille, Piano Black body kit, and rear privacy glass give it a more striking appearance. The RS theme continues inside with heated leather trimmed seats, leather sports steering wheel and gear knob, plus alloy sports pedals.

The sportiness doesn’t continue in the engine bay though, with the RS powered by the same old 105kW, 172Nm, single-overhead cam 1.8-litre engine, mated to a CVT auto driving to the front wheels, as all the other versions. We couldn’t say the RS accelerates with real conviction, it’s more a case of building speed, and at high throttle openings it’s pretty rowdy too. It does the job, as opposed to offering any excitement. The RS gains paddle-shifters to manually access seven pre-set ratios in the CVT. But overall, the CVT’s operation is less convincing than the best of this style of transmission we have experienced.

2018 Honda HRV FS interior

Honda have revised the suspension and steering on the RS, providing it with unique damper and spring rates for flatter cornering and more stable ride. It alone in the range also gets a variable ratio motion-adaptive electric power-steering system. The steering is nicely weighted, responsive and provides decent road feel. Handling is competent, though low-speed ride quality tends to jar over speed bumps and potholes.

The HR-V makes efficient use of its small SUV external dimensions offering an interior that’s spacious in class terms. And Honda’s Magic Seat system in row two helps capitalise on this for carrying a variety of loads including tall items such as pot plants, and long things like step ladders, musical instruments and surf boards.

Honda’s Lane Watch system is standard. It uses a camera triggered by the left indicator or a separate switch to provide a view of the left lane. It’s handy for a kerb view when parking, but a normal blind-spot monitoring system to monitor both the left and right sides would be better during lane changes. Surprisingly, there’s no digital speedo readout fitted, and pairing a phone was fiddlier than it needed to be.

KEY STATS

  • MLP: $31,990 (excludes on-road costs)
  • ENGINE: 1.8-litre, SOHC, i-VTEC petrol 4-cyl
  • ANCAP SAFETY RATING: 5 stars
  • TAILPIPE CO2 (g/km): 152

FOR:

  • Space efficiency, magic-seat system, decent steering, sportier looks.

AGAINST:

  • SOHC engine and CVT off the pace, firm low-speed ride, needs blind-spot monitoring.

2018 Honda HRV FS