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Driven: Honda HR-V turbo not for Australia

New and improved: The refreshed HR-V range rolls into Honda dealerships from September 1.

Thai sourcing prohibits Euro-market 1.5 turbo for Aus-spec Honda HR-V

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Honda logo30 Aug 2018

HONDA Australia says it has no immediate plans to offer the company’s 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine in its HR-V small-SUV range as the powerplant is not yet slated for production at the Thai plant that supplies our market.
 
This is despite Honda offering a sports-themed RS version of its freshly updated HR-V that  rolls into showrooms on September 1.
 
According to Honda Australia director Stephen Collins, the company can only currently access the naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine two-wheel drive HR-V paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for the local market, meaning any variation – including a manual gearbox, all-wheel drive and turbocharged petrol and diesel alternatives offered elsewhere – remain off the table. 
 
“It’s a fact that it is not available out of the factory, so our strategy is concentrating on CVTs and automatic transmissions, and I think that’s working for us … we would probably take it if we had the opportunity,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the facelifted HR-V in Melbourne this week. “We have constraints but we work with those.”
 
Confirmed by Honda Europe in early August, the HR-V turbo will use a variation of the 140kW/240Nm 1.5-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine found in the Civic and CR-V ranges, joining a 1.6-litre four-pot turbo diesel also announced for continental markets.
 
However, Mr Collins added that as soon as the opportunity arises for different variants of certain models, Honda would consider them, particularly as more stringent future crash test ratings might force a switch to sourcing outside of Thailand.
 
This may open the door for niche variants such as the Civic Si – a ‘warmer’ sporty variant featuring the aforementioned 1.5-litre turbo, six-speed manual gearbox, limited-slip differential, adaptive dampers and other performance-focused items.
 
“I think where we can we will,” he said. “I’ve said many times, that what we want to do is bring that sportiness back into our brand, and I think if there is an option to put a bigger engine in it with more power – not dissimilar to the Si strategy in the United States – then that’s something we will certainly look at. 
 
“Now whether we can get it at the right price, from the right factory, with the right spec etc is another question, but I think we’re really showing that we’re really trying to be proactive in our product planning and allow more customisation than we have for a long, long time. 
 
“I think we still have a long way to go … but I feel we’re making inroads. Where bigger engines are becoming available to us, we’ll take them. And we’re not looking at just the Thai factory. We’re looking at other alternatives as well.  
 
“As the regulations – particularly with five-star safety – increase from here-on in, that may open up more opportunities outside of Thailand as well. We’re looking across the world to find the right product to suit our market.”
 
Honda has high hopes for the new RS sports variant in the revised HR-V range, as it looks to elevate the small SUV’s fifth-place standing in its small-SUV class. Initial interest is already strong from younger buyers, according to Mr Collins.
 
As reported in July, the facelifted HR-V updates the three-and-a-half-year-old small SUV series with standard low-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB). A revised CVT with stepped ratios for a more responsive feel is fitted to all models. The updated HR-V can be identified by its revised grille and bumper, with LED headlights on all but the VTi.
 
Pricing remains the same for the base VTi at $24,990 plus on-road costs and $27,990 for the VTi-S. The outgoing VTi-L has given way to the $31,990 RS while the VTi-LX is the new flagship at $34,590.
 
Other standard items include a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, satellite navigation and Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, climate control air-conditioning and an electric parking brake with hill-hold assist.
 
Honda’s Lane Watch left-lane camera system returns after an absence from the VTi-S, while rear parking sensors, automatic LED headlights, push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, roof rails and 17-inch alloys also make the grade.
 
The new RS looks the part with 18-inch alloys (a series first), bodykit featuring piano-black highlights, honeycomb grille and darker chrome accents. It is also the first HR-V with variable gear ratio electric rack and pinion steering offering fewer turns lock to lock. Other additions include rain-sensing wipers, paddle shifters, reverse auto-tilt mirrors and rear privacy glass.
 
Finally, the VTi-LX brings an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, panoramic sunroof, extra chrome, front parking sensors, one-touch power windows, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Honda’s Advanced Driver Assist System safety technology, which adds forward collision warning, high-beam support and lane-departure warning. No adaptive cruise control is offered.
 
The RS and VTi-LX also benefit from extra sound-deadening material throughout the vehicle as well as redesigned front seats for improved comfort and support respectively. 
 
All models employ a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, making 105kW of power at 6500rpm and 172Nm of toque from 4300rpm, and driving the front wheels via a CVT automatic transmission. The combined average fuel consumption figure is 6.6 litres per 100km in the base variant, for a carbon dioxide emissions rating average of 155 grams per kilometre.
 
Based on Honda’s light-car platform as per the current Jazz and related City sedan, the HR-V shares the Jazz’s famous ‘Magic Seats’, bringing it unique cargo-carrying and packaing benefits. 
 
Capacity varies from 437 litres to 1462L to the roof with the seats down, pushing the crossover into medium SUV territory capacity wise. Aiding that is a compact torsion beam rear suspension design, while the front end features the ubiquitous MacPherson strut layout.
 
For the first seven months of this year, Honda has sold 7455 HR-Vs for a 10.3 per cent share of the small-SUV segment. That is a 3.5 per cent lift over the same period last year.
 
The HR-V trails the Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Qashqai and Subaru XV for sales in its class.

 

2018 Honda HR-V pricing*

 
VTi (a) $24,990
VTi-S (a) $27,990
RS (a) $31,990
VTi-LX (a) $34,590

*Excludes on-road costs


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