Honda has moved to boost sales of its popular HR-V, 5-seat, small SUV with a supplementary model called the RS and minor upgrades to all other variants.
These include hard wired sat-nav and autonomous city braking up to 32kmh as standard.
They also revised the CVT transmission for more of a conventional automatic feel and fitted more noise damping material for a quieter ride along with styling tweaks.
There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto though.
The Honda HR-V RS comes in a new hero colour called Phoenix Gold that stands out in a crowd and sets off the shiny black body hardware and 18″ alloys featured on the newcomer.
Imposing frontal styling remains, in this case with a prominent black chrome highlight and other changes to the mask.
It’s still a two box SUV “fat hatchback” but the piano black wheel arch trim, side skirts, rear diffuser and bumper along with black mirror shrouds and front skirt impart a sporty appearance.
It looks a lot like the larger CR-V in passing and is in fact quite large for the segment, something reflected inside.
Some soft surfaces add a degree of luxury to the interior which is both functional and attractive to look at. There’s the obligatory centre touch screen (7″) and a large centre console with a cockpit style dash in front of the driver.
The RS scores heated front seats and black leather along with bunch of goodies nearly up to the top of the range LX model.
It has Honda’s excellent “Magic seats” in the rear that fold in a variety of ways and the load space is generous as is rear seat legroom.
This last factor possibly holds the greatest appeal for HR-V buyers as the car is class leading in the room and practical layout stakes.
Honda saw a gap in the Honda HR-V line-up and the RS fills it. There are enough differences to set it apart and it actually drives better than all the other models thanks to some mechanical changes.
RS offers plenty of luxury kit but not as much advanced driver assist technology as the well-endowed LX top of the range model.
It scores goodies like;
- Rain sensing wiper
- Auto headlights
- Paddle shift
- Black leather
- Climate control
- Lane Watch side view
- Rear window tint
- Multi Info’ Display (MID)
- Smart keyless start and cruise control.
Drive and Engine
Power comes from a venerable 1.8-litre, petrol four cylinder with only one camshaft that started life some time ago in a Honda Civic.
It’s not the newest design but delivers a handy 105kW/172Nm output for fuel economy rated at 6.7-litres/100km on regular 91 petrol.
Given the vehicle’s 1294kg weight, performance is adequate overall but the sport mode is ineffective as it simply drops down a cog in the CVT transmission. You can do that using the paddle shift.
The RS has a sharper feel and sporty dynamics thanks to a range of modifications to the suspension… springs, dampers and sway bars, variable gear ratio steering and the 18″ wheels with lower profile tyres.
It can be a touch gruff when worked hard especially when revs rise above 5000rpm.
No issues at all for the target market though.
The Honda HR-V in general scores a five star ANCAP rating but the RS goes further with a smattering of advanced driver assist technology including the smart city braking system and lane watch.
Only HR-V in LX grade gets all the good stuff.
- Sharper dynamics
- Better drive feel
- Improved appearance
- Decent amount of luxury kit
- Handy size for city driving
- Magic seats, heated fronts
- Roomy interior
Not So Good Bits
- Adequate performance
- Can be noisy
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
2018 Honda HR-V RS from $31,990
Not a bad thing from Honda particularly with the enhanced drive feel.
It doesn’t deliver the same level of engine performance as some of the competition but that’s probably not an issue for the target buyer.
The new gold really stands out especially with piano black highlights.
So, Honda HR-V RS looks good, has plenty of kit, and is priced at an affordable level. Happy days.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Honda HR-V RS
- Engine: 1.8L four-cylinder petrol producing 105kW/172Nm, 6.7-litres/100km
- Transmission: Six-speed CVT
- Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Thailand