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Honda's HR-V benchmarked against Qashqai, Q3

Class above: Mainstream and premium rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai (Dualis) and the Audi Q3 provided the benchmark for the development of the Honda HR-V.

More than just a jumped-up Jazz, Honda's HR-V was designed to be a global player

Honda logo16 Feb 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HONDA’S second attempt at a B-segment SUV, the recently arrived HR-V, was designed and engineered to be a truly global model, according to the new crossover's project leader.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Australian launch of the HR-V in Tasmania, Honda Motor Company HR-V project leaders Noshiharu Itai and Naohisa Morishita said the HR-V project started four years ago, with the aim of delivering a global B-segment SUV with style and driving dynamics to appeal to Europeans, but with a firm eye on conquering the North American and Chinese markets.

With development work carried out in Japan, the newcomer actually preceded the current GK-series Jazz light car in design, with some of the HR-V’s signature styling motifs – namely the curved side body crease and wing-shaped grille – ending up on the smaller car.

Mr Morishita said the new HR-V had one of the smoothest transitions from concept sketches to a finished production model, due in part to the “rightness” of the design in the eyes of Honda’s board of management.

While declining to divulge the exact drag co-efficiency figure, Mr Itai said that internal testing with a number of the HR-V’s contemporaries revealed it is by far the most aerodynamic. Special attention was paid to optimising airflow beneath the vehicle.

The wheel arches, by the way, were created to accommodate wheels of up to 20 inches in size, however Honda has capped the HR-V to 16 and 17-inch items.

Speaking of wheels, most of the handling and ride tuning was conducted on the larger wheel and tyre set, with Mr Morishita admitting it was superior in terms of dynamic prowess.

Honda said two dynamic yardsticks were used during the development of the HR-V – the original Nissan J10 Qashqai (Dualis) from 2006 to 2013 and the Audi Q3.

“The Qashqai was the benchmark but not our target,” Mr Morishita said. “We aimed at something from the class above, the Audi Q3, and we beat the Qashqai in ride.

“I understand that the Qashqai is not noted for its handling… but it is a very good all-rounder… so we used the Audi to fine-tune the HR-V. We have made our car much better than the Qashqai”.

Honda said it tested the HR-V in North America, Southern Europe and China as well as Japan. Some of the driver-assist systems like the forward-collision warnings, lane-departure alert and automatic high-beam control were tested in Australia in prototype stage.

About 45 per cent of the Jazz’s B-car platform is shared, despite the compact SUV brandishing similar MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear ends. For starters, the wheelbase is 80mm longer and the front and rear tracks are wider by 43mm and 59mm respectively. There is also an extra 35mm of ground clearance at 170mm.

The HR-V receives revised mounts and bushes to beef up rigidity and help quell noise paths the dampers are specific for improved performance the floor has been strengthened and there is a higher degree of high-tensile steel.

All up, the HR-V weighs about 100kg more than the Jazz equivalent.

While it has not yet been tested by Euro NCAP, Honda says it has replicated the maximum five-star crash-test rating results internally.

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