New 2021 Honda HR-V launched with e:HEV hybrid powertrain

The new Honda HR-V crossover features fresh styling, better packaging and a 129bhp 1.5-litre twin-motor hybrid powertrain

The wraps have been pulled of the new Honda HR-V, which will rival the likes of the Nissan Juke, SEAT Arona and Hyundai Kona when it goes on sale later this year. The Mk3 Honda HR-V gains a bold new look, extra technology, a more spacious interior and a reworked version of its clever two-motor e:HEV hybrid powertrain, adapted from the latest Jazz supermini.

The new HR-V’s powertrain uses the same Atkinson cycle 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, and a battery mounted under the boot floor. The battery pack has 60 cells, compared to 48 in the Jazz, to account for the HR-V’s added mass. The system also has a slightly higher combined output of 129bhp and 253Nm of torque, to offset the car’s added bulk. This propels the car from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds. 

Like the Honda Jazz, the HR-V’s petrol engine works primarily as a generator for the electric motor system. However, the HR-V will actively switch between three modes - Electric Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive - depending on powertrain loads, to maximise efficiency.

There are also three drive modes to choose from, with Sport providing a sharper throttle response and Econ tweaking the air conditioning and throttle for increased efficiency. Normal mode provides a middle-ground between the two. 

The level of energy regeneration when braking or coasting can also be adjusted using paddles behind the steering wheel. On the WLTP cycle, the hybrid system allows the HR-V to achieve 52.3mpg, and CO2 emissions of 122 g/km.

Honda says that the HR-V’s hybrid setup ‘achieves a higher ratio of accumulated electric drive time when driving in cities than other hybrids on sale today’, but the firm hasn’t actually confirmed a maximum electric only range figure. However, Kojiro Okabe, one of the head engineers for the new HR-V project told us that EV running isn’t a priority.

“We haven’t very much focused on how long you can drive purely electric in one go. It’s more about the total balance of how efficiently you can produce the electric power. 

“In city driving, most of the time you can drive in pure-electric mode. However, we haven’t actually determined and measured, and also focussed our development in terms of maximising the pure-electric range in one go.”

New 2021 Honda HR-V: design and interior

The Honda HR-V has always offered a more coupe-like look compared to its competitors; something this third-generation model has advanced even further, borrowing some light design inspiration from last year’s Honda e:Concept prototype.

Like the concept, it features a broad radiator grille and a rakish profile, with a roofline that’s 20mm lower than the old car’s. Honda has also increased the HR-V’s ride height by 10mm and fitted larger 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, adding to its bold new stance. The rest of the car has clean and simple surfacing.

Honda says the cosmetic changes aren’t just for the sake of design, though. There’s an air curtain along the lower edge of the bumper, as well as a subtle lip for the rear edge of the side skirts, both of which help to improve the car’s aerodynamics. The new spoiler also helps to clean up the turbulent air in the HR-V’s wake, reducing drag and improving fuel economy.

Inside, Honda has adopted the same minimalist design language. The dashboard is clutter free, comprising only a seven-inch instrument cluster, a nine-inch infotainment system and some simple rotary climate control knobs above the centre console.

Honda has fitted its new Air Diffusion System in place of traditional air vents mounted in the centre of the cabin. It uses two L-shaped outlets by the A-pillars, which direct air down the inside of the crossover’s windows to adjust the interior temperature.

Despite being the same length overall as the old HR-V, Honda says it has improved the new car’s interior space, thanks in part to the new drivetrain. In the rear, there’s an extra 35mm of legroom and a further two degrees of seat recline. 

Honda has also managed to retain the old car’s versatile Magic Seats, which allows you to either fold the rear seat backs flat, or keep them in place and flip the seat bases up (like a cinema chair) for extra practicality. Honda says the system allows the HR-V to easily carry two adult mountain bikes with the front wheels removed.

New 2021 Honda HR-V: safety technology

Honda’s “Sensing” safety equipment makes its debut on the Mk3 HR-V, adding a host of extra driver assistance technology. The biggest update is a new front camera and image processing chip, which improves the car’s pedestrian collision mitigation steering system and collision mitigation braking system.

The new camera can better detect pedestrians during night-time driving, while the improved software can now recognise oncoming vehicles which stray into the path of the HR-V, including cyclists and motorcycles, and automatically apply the brakes.

There’s a new adaptive cruise control system, too, with new software which Honda says can better perform overtakes. The vehicle can now calculate the smoothest steering angle and acceleration mapping required for the overtake. It also accelerates earlier, to make sure there’s an adequate amount of speed for the manoeuvre.

The new HR-V will also be offered with Hill Descent Control for the first time in Europe, which can operate from speeds as low as 3km/h (1.86mph). Honda says the system can assist drivers in a range of conditions, from “navigating slippery outdoor car park ramps to tackling steep snowy roads.”

The all-new Honda HR-V goes on sale later this year with prices expected to start from around £25,000 given the step up in technology and hybrid-only engine line-up.

What are the best hybrid cars on sale right now? Click here to read our top 10...

Recommended

New Bentley Bentayga Hybrid 2021 review
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid - front
Bentley Bentayga

New Bentley Bentayga Hybrid 2021 review

The updated Bentley Bentayga Hybrid luxury SUV has arrived in the UK
28 Jul 2021
New McLaren 765LT Spider redefines open-top performance
McLaren 765LT Spider - front action
McLaren 765LT

New McLaren 765LT Spider redefines open-top performance

The drop-top McLaren 765LT Spider takes just 2.8 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph, while it can reach 124mph from rest in 7.2 seconds
27 Jul 2021
Hyundai i20 N vs Hyundai i30 N: Track Battle
Hyundai i20 N vs i30 N
Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20 N vs Hyundai i30 N: Track Battle

Hyundai hot hatches go head-to-head! Have the i20 N and i30 N got the talent to hit the high notes on track?
13 Jul 2021
New Genesis G70 Shooting Brake arrives in the UK to take on BMW 3 Series Touring
Genesis G70 Shooting Brake - front
Genesis G70

New Genesis G70 Shooting Brake arrives in the UK to take on BMW 3 Series Touring

The UK-bound Genesis G70 Shooting Brake estate has been launched at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed
9 Jul 2021

Most Popular

Land Rover unveils limited-run Defender Trophy Edition
Land Rover unveils limited-run Defender Trophy Edition - front
Land Rover Defender

Land Rover unveils limited-run Defender Trophy Edition

Just 220 examples will be built to honour past Camel Trophy Land Rovers, all of which have been reserved for the North American market
30 Jul 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover
Volkswagen Taigo R-Line - front
Volkswagen Taigo

New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover

The new VW Taigo is a sportier, more aggressive looking version of the brand’s T-Cross and is aimed at lifestyle buyers
29 Jul 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range

Kia reveals more specs for its bespoke electric car, with the EV6 offering long range and an 18-minute 80 per cent rapid recharge time
21 Jul 2021