A few months ago, we tested the Honda HR-V S with Sensing. This entry-level variant impressed us due to its numerous features, smooth and quiet ride, as well as its fuel-efficient powertrain.
Granted, it only gets a naturally-aspirated i-VTEC engine and comes with fewer luxuries and features. But with a price tag of PHP 1,250,000, it means it’s affordable enough for those who want a high-quality crossover that comes with intelligent driver aids, and the signature ‘H’ badge.
While that’s all well and good, there are those who prefer something with a bit more oomph and pizzaz. Since we already covered the S variant, it was only natural to dive into the next variant of the HR-V, the V Turbo with Honda Sensing.
Not only does it get a more powerful four-cylinder under the hood, but it also gets several more amenities than the base model S. But will the extra features and turbocharged VTEC engine justify the price increase? And will those be enough to sway buyers to get the V Turbo over the S?
First and foremost, let’s talk about its design. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure of its looks when I first saw pictures of it online. However, my opinion quickly changed when I finally got to lay my eyes on one in the metal. Like the all-new Civic, this particular generation of the HR-V moves away from an aggressive and sporty design to a more mature and upmarket look.
From the sharp LED headlights, coupe-like roofline, C-pillar-mounted rear door handles, and the sleek LED lightbar for the taillights, Honda sure knows how to make their new-generation crossover look good. In fact, I nearly lost count of the number of passers-by who ogled and stared when I had the HR-V.
But what makes the HR-V V Turbo different from the HR-V S? Well for starters, it has a “Turbo” badge at the back which lets everyone know this is no ordinary HR-V. It also gets a unique front bumper spoiler that gives the crossover a sportier demeanor albeit sacrificing some ground clearance.
It also gets dual exhaust pipes as opposed to the single exhaust of the HR-V S and a black mesh-type grille with diamond-like inserts that differ from the rather simple black bar-type grille of the non-turbo version. Both the S and V variants come with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/60 tires albeit each sporting a different finish. Whereas the S gets a black and silver colorway, the V variant only comes with a gray finish.
I’m not sure who from Honda decided which wheels go where, but I think the V Turbo got the short end of the stick. Even though this variant gets more equipment and features, the gray wheels don’t exactly exude sportiness or flair. If it were up to me, I’d switch the wheel choices between the two models.
While I can admire the HR-V's exterior all day long, it’s now time to check out the interior. The previous generation’s cabin was fine but it looked rather brash and was trying a bit too hard to be sporty. Luckily, Honda changed all that in the new-generation HR-V which now comes with a more mature and upmarket cabin.
Borrowing inspiration from the Civic, the HR-V has a simple yet ergonomic dashboard and control layout. From the soft buttons on the automatic climate control to the easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment, as well as the audio controls on the steering wheel, Honda has a knack for using quality materials for its cabin. And since this is the V Turbo model, the steering wheel is wrapped in leather which is an upgrade over the HR-V S’ urethane steering wheel.
Honda was also quite generous in the use of soft-touch plastic throughout the interior. These can be felt on parts of the dashboard, the top of the center console, and the door panels near the window switches. Perhaps my favorite part of the interior is the padded lower segment of the dashboard which makes for a more premium-looking cabin. Did I mention this variant also comes with more piano black trim?
There are still some touches of hard (i.e. cheap) plastic inside the HR-V Turbo. But Honda cleverly placed them where your hands don’t normally go to. These include the lower parts of the door panels, the lower section of the center console, and tight crevices and touchpoints. Still, for a crossover that’s supposed to be premium, I was surprised Honda still used some of it in the HR-V V Turbo.
Aside from having a neat and sleek dashboard, the V Turbo also has something the S variant only wished it had, a 7-inch digital instrument panel. Also borrowed from the Civic, this makes for a clearer and more intuitive view of the gauges, as well as the multi-info display which you can customize. Personally, I’d still prefer analog gauges, but I have to say that digital instrument clusters are growing on me, particularly with Honda’s.
Like the S version, Honda also put an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the V Turbo. Features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and USB are standard. Despite not having a wireless feature, I do have to commend the system’s ability to quickly recognize an iOS or Android device via a cable. You don’t even have to pair it via Bluetooth manually as the system will immediately sync your mobile device as soon as you plug in a data cable. Perhaps my only complaint with the infotainment system is its screen size, but I’m already nitpicking at this point.
Before I forget, those seated in the back will be happy to know there are two USB charging points below the rear A/C vents. That means rear occupants will not have to compete with the driver or front passenger when it comes to charging their mobile devices.
Since this is the V Turbo, it comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged VTEC engine derived from the Civic. Like the sedan, It puts out a healthy 177 PS at 6000 rpm along with 240 Nm of torque that’s available from 1700 to 4500 rpm. Similar to the S variant, this particular HR-V is coupled to a CVT that drives the front wheels.
Compared to the entry-level HR-V S, this HR-V V makes 56 PS more and has 95 Nm of extra pulling power thanks to the wonders of forced induction. Does that translate to a more fun driving experience behind the wheel? And does the additional power mean it’s not as smooth as its naturally-aspirated counterpart?
I’m happy to report that this turbocharged HR-V is still a smooth operator. Keep a light foot on the accelerator pedal and it behaves just like a normally-aspirated crossover. That’s because the turbo will only spool up once the revs hit 1700 rpm. Keep it below that and the turbo will not activate, allowing for a smoother and more fuel-efficient drive when you’re just going around town.
Put your foot on the floor, however, and the HR-V Turbo speeds up with eagerness. But instead of being spritely like the Civic, the HR-V is actually a bit more refined when it comes to delivering power to the pavement which is actually a good thing. Instead of surging forward, the powertrain actually advances smoothly while still delivering generous torque for quick overtaking or spirited driving. But for those who really want to treat the HR-V Turbo like a Civic on stilts, it has Sport Mode which kicks up the revs and makes the CVT a bit more aggressive. And if that’s enough, it has paddle shifters to make that spirited driving experience more fun thanks to seven (simulated) gear ratios.
Another aspect of the 2022 HR-V that I noticed is its handling. While most crossovers are not exactly the most engaging vehicles to drive, Honda actually made the HR-V fun to drive around. It is not exactly engineered to be an agile vehicle but the automaker still managed to make it handle it well. Point the vehicle in your desired direction and the vehicle just follows through. Combined with a quick-steer ratio and you can easily change directions in the HR-V.
Also worth mentioning in the HR-V is its steering. Not only is it adaptive (which adjusts its weight depending on the speed), the steering actually delivers feedback to the driver. With so many crossovers nowadays having little to no road feel, the HR-V (thankfully) doesn’t follow that trend and gives drivers a better feel for the road. Combined with its brakes that only need a light prod to shave off speed, the HR-V delivers confidence at any speed.
When it comes to fuel consumption, the turbocharged HR-V delivered a fuel-efficient drive. In light city driving, the crossover was able to return around 10 km/l if you keep a light foot on the accelerator. In heavier traffic conditions, that figure will go down to about 8 km/l. Out on the highway at an average speed of around 90 km/h, the HR-V was able to return between 18 to 19 km/l. Impressive, but the non-turbo S variant is still easier on the fuel bills based on our other review.
So, it’s still a relatively fuel-efficient crossover despite having a turbocharger under the hood. However, I do have to say that it now has a smaller fuel tank compared to its predecessor. At 40 liters, the crossover’s fuel capacity has been lessened by 10 liters. While that may not sound like much, the decrease in tank size meant those taking the HR-V on a long drive may want to take note of the gas stations they’ll pass by on their way to their destinations and back.
As for the HR-V's Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) deadening, there is still room for improvement. It was able to (somewhat) suppress both tire and engine noise, but louder sounds from motorcycles and jeepneys were still able to permeate into the cabin. Perhaps Honda could use thicker glass to make up for that.
While its NVH could be better, the crossover did deliver a supple ride quality. Whether you’re seated in the driver’s seat or in the passenger seat, you’ll be happy about its soft ride. There is some degree of stiffness while seated in the back but it’s hardly noticeable.
So the HR-V V Turbo gets a more powerful turbocharged VTEC engine, comes with (slightly) more amenities, and gets more high-tech gizmos over the HR-V S. If anything, those who test-drove the naturally-aspirated version will find the HR-V V Turbo faster and more engaging. And since it also has Honda Sensing as standard (adaptive cruise control, low-speed follow, collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, and auto high beam), drivers will be happy to know the crossover has intelligent driver aids at the ready.
But with a sticker price of PHP 1,598,000 (PHP 348,000 more than the HR-V S), the HR-V V Turbo with Sensing is on the pricier side of things. Compared to its closest rivals like the Ford Territory, Geely Coolray, Changan CS 35 Plus, and the MG ZS T which are several thousand Pesos cheaper, Honda is faced with a pricing predicament.
And if you’ve been eyeing to get one this year, you better hope and pray they have a unit available because it will reportedly get a price increase for the 2023 model year. From PHP 1.598 million, it will retail for PHP 1,648,000 which is a PHP 50,000 price hike. But with still little to no units available due to delivery delays, some buyers might be left with no choice but to get a brand new unit starting next year.
If you don’t mind paying a premium and badly want that ‘H’ badge, by all means, get the HR-V 1.5V Turbo.