The 2023 Honda HR-V Hybrid: Honda's hybrid theory
The 2023 Honda HR-V Hybrid is the first Honda hybrid from ATL Honda. (Photo: Rory Daley)

When it comes to hybrids, other Japanese manufacturers may have co-opted the headlines, but history will note that Honda was one of the original two automakers that brought the hybrid vehicle to the mass market with the Insight in 1999.

Since then the company has continued to refine its own hybrid technology, moving from the first generation Integrated Motor Assist system to the current e:HEV system found in the 2023 HR-V.

To go with its electrification the HR-V has futuristic styling. The roofline is low slung for a sleek look. Small touches, like the rear door handles blended into the upper glass section, slim headlights, and an illuminated rear bar add to the spaceship appearance.

The interior isn't as future-tech as the exterior, but it's still a great space. It starts with the commanding driving position SUV buyers love. Cabin space is plentiful for passengers and their associated gear. Soft touch materials greet occupants for that upscale feel. It's a simple and sharp design that matches well with the ergonomic theme, which is a blend between modern and the familiar.

The interior keeps everything simple enough for the average driver with typical Honda quality and design. (Photo: Rory Daley)

The digital elements of the interface, the infotainment and half digital instrumentation, are as intuitive to use as the physical controls. This combines with a refined interior once on the go.

As a Honda, some performance credibility is expected and the HR-V delivers on the driving experience. Leave it alone and it will have no problems providing the service expected from an SUV. It can do the school run, be packed to the gills with human cargo, and handle the rigours of urban life.

In corporate area traffic, or on long highway treks, the HR-V has a host of Driver Assist features to make life easier. It can take over steering for short stints and has cruise control that works down to zero kph. For those that want a bit more from their SUV, the suspension is set up sporty enough to allow spirited driving. It can easily soak up rough B roads while giving enough feedback and control for confidence at speed or when the roads turn twisty.

On paper, the 1.5-litre four cylinder doesn't sound too exciting. However, hybrid technology has been a blessing for small displacement engines. The HR-V's motor retains that Honda revvy nature, but the instant and extra torque from the e:HEV system makes it feel even faster on the road than plain figures suggest.

For 2023 the HR-V has taken on a very sleek, sporty and futuristic appearance. (Photo: Rory Daley)

Honda claims e:HEV produces both exceptional fuel economy and outstanding driving pleasure, something easy to believe in the HR-V. The star of the e:HEV system is the Electric CVT featuring two motors, a traction motor directly connected to the drive wheels and a generator motor directly connected to the engine. This contributes to maximum efficiency as the dual system avoids energy loss and can react smoothly to the power demands of the vehicle. Basically, at low to mid rpms the Honda uses as much electric power as it can. At the higher throttle levels the engine takes over.

This can be easily felt in the HR-V. It's very smooth. After a while drivers will get used to how the e:HEV system is activated and can operate the throttle to gain even more fuel savings. This smooth drivetrain complements the refined interior and smart driver functions packed into the small but versatile package that is the Honda HR-V Hybrid.

Honda's e:HEV technology uses two electric motors and an internal combustion engine. (Photo: Rory Daley)


MODEL: 2023 Honda HR-V Hybrid

ENGINE: 1.5-litre four-cylinder + (E Motor) - 105bhp/94lb/ft (129bhp/187lb/ft)

DRIVETRAIN: E-CVT/front-wheel drive

SUMMARY: Honda's take on hybrid tech improves the HR-V tenfold.

BY RORY DALEY Auto writer

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