1 Jan 1999
By CHRIS HARRIS
HONDA had hoped to replicate the success of its CR-V in the light-SUV segment with its HR-V mini-4WD wagon.
But Australians seemed to shun such cars – with exception to the inexpensive Daihatsu Terios – as the Mitsubishi Pajero iO also proved.
The HR-V was based on the light car that preceded the popular Jazz that Australians never saw – the Toyota Starlet-like Logo – and so was deceptively compact in its dimensions.
Initially a two-door wagon arrived, in base and Sport guises, powered by a 77kW/138Nm 1.6-litre SOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine.
Interestingly the automatic was of the constant velocity CVT type – giving smoothness and efficiency a regular torque-converter automatic cannot quite match – while a conventional five-speed manual was the other gearbox choice.
The HR-V was essentially a front-wheel drive hatchback, until slippage detected in the front wheels activated a version of Honda’s tried and true Real Time part-time 4WD system.
All models included dual airbags, power steering, central locking, power windows and cloth trim, while the racier Sport added anti-lock brakes, remote central locking, alloy wheels, roof racks and a rear spoiler.
The latter was discontinued in May 2000, two months after the four-door HR-V wagon arrived.
A limited edition ‘Indy’ special was based on the base three-door model, and was available in late ’99.