By on November 29, 2018

Image: Honda

Suffice it to say no one was talking about Honda’s HR-V subcompact crossover until this news broke. It sells well, quite well, but the little ute — like most subcompact crossovers — may as well be invisible.

What are people suddenly talking about? The emergence of an HR-V Sport on the other side of the Atlantic, boasting a turbocharged 1.5-liter VTEC four-cylinder that’s good for 180 horsepower — just like the one found in the Civic Sport.

That mill generates 177 lb-ft of torque, which, while not as potent as the version found in the Si, is a considerable step up from the UK-market HR-V’s naturally aspirated 1.5-liter base engine, which generates 126 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. North American HR-Vs benefit from a 1.8 base mill capable of getting the little ute out of its own way. Still, the 1.8L remains the only engine available, providing owners with just 127 lb-ft to go with its 141 ponies, even in the U.S.-market Sport trim.

Besides the new engine, the Brits gain a black mesh grille to replace the horrible, Acura-esque chrome blade that took over the HR-V’s face following a recent refresh, 18-inch wheels, and a tuned suspension to cut down on body roll in corners. The HR-V rolls a lot, if I recall correctly. It’s worth noting that the UK model, due out early next year, comes only in front-wheel drive guise and carries either a six-speed manual or a CVT.

So, that’s great for the long-suffering motorists of the UK, but what about us? We have the car and the engine; what about a pair-up? Thus far, Honda’s staying tight-lipped on the availability of the engine coming to the North American HR-V, though there’s no reason for it not to. “Sport” should mean something.

The HR-V’s competition is heating up considerably. Just this year, we’ve seen the introduction of the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona, and Nissan Kicks in the smallest CUV space. U.S. volume is lower in 2018, too, with sales down by 6.7 percent through the end of October.

It might not be a vehicle you care about, but others might — and light trucks are where Honda’s growth lies. Giving the consumer reason not to choose the Kona turbo (175 hp, 195 lb-ft) would surely work to Honda’s advantage.

[Image: Honda]

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24 Comments on “The Possibility of a Hotter Honda HR-V Emerges...”

  • avatar

    If you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly. Drop the V6/6-speed combo from the defunct Accord Coupe in there. That would be a hot hatch.

  • avatar

    Ok, they can improve it. But it needs a lot of improvement just to catch up driving dynamics. It needs better clutch, steering, brakes, engine, suspension. oh well.

    • 0 avatar

      Haven’t driven one, but your comments are in line with what the internet and mag scribes alike have been saying.

      This has always been a raised-platform Fit.

      • 0 avatar

        i didn’t drive this one but I drove Fit, Civic, Accord. I can imagine problems of this one.

        • 0 avatar

          those are fine driving cars – what problems are you implying?

          • 0 avatar

            slavuta is a Mazda fanboi, so he doesn’t have the capacity to admit Honda’s driving dynamics are as good, if not better.

            And my screen name is a joke; I haven’t owned a Honda in years.

          • 0 avatar

            No, I am not a Mazda fanboy. Mazda fanboys go to Mazda and buy them. I go to Mazda last. First I test drive Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru (No Nissan if you think I missed it (besides Juke)). I drove Renegade, Mini Clubman/Countryman. But I come back to Mazda for one and only reason – zen. Mazda is driving zen. All these cars above have either bad steering, clutch, gear box, breaks, or seating or suspension, etc. Mazda has only one thing missing as of today – it is not as quick as new Hondas. But it is zen in driving. All controls are calibrated to perfection. I drove my friends Mustang GT few weeks back, and, for example, steering was not as nicely weighted as Mazda6. When I drove BMW5series with 2LT – this is when I felt like I am in Mazda6. It did fill more heavy but in that car all the things worked just like it feels in Mazda6.

            So, probert, to answer your question by example. I drove ’17 Accord Sport. First fit and finish… I mean, Mazda way better. Then driving position. In Mazda, stickshift positioned right. In Accord, even with my long reach, I had to reach hard to switch gears. Seating in Mazda way better. Ergonomics, just about everything. Packaging and pricing too. After purchase , using ebay , for $250 I added foggies, nav and rubber floor mats. Nav wasn’t even available in Accord sport.

          • 0 avatar

            “those are fine driving cars” – Honda brakes alone .. yea, those numb brakes and mostly numb steering; Then the dash; there is no elegance there. I drove Civic si, Sport Hatch also. I didn’t want to drive 4th Mazda3, so I went to look for something else

  • avatar

    Fit Si or GTFO.

  • avatar

    “The HR-V rolls a lot, if I recall correctly”

    Every Honda I’ve driven leans – Honda likes a compliant suspension. They are tenacious though – and if you hang in there, they’ll hang in there. It’s fun – I like leaning.

  • avatar

    I hate to say it, but put that engine plus manual in the HR-V and I could be persuaded to partake in the blight on the automotive landscape that crossovers represent.

    The HR-V destroys my eyes far less than the rest of the lineup.

    • 0 avatar

      I used to own a MINI Countryman S with a manual, thinking it would be at least 80% as fun as a Clubman or a hardtop with a manual. It wasn’t. It just didn’t have the joy as its smaller counterparts. It certainly didn’t handle as well, and the extra weight with the 1.6L engine nerfed the performance a bit. Yeah yeah, it was probably as fast given it’s HP bump over the 2003 and 2009 I owned, but it certainly didn’t feel like it.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    This class of vehicle fails to interest me in any meaningful way. Every single important automotive element is compromised away in pursuit of the tall roof/high driving position–dynamics, economy, cost of manufacturing, weight, aero….and appearance. It could have a Hellcat V8 with a manual and I would still pass.

  • avatar

    The HRV isn’t a bad mini SUV. I test drove a manual LX. It was very slow though and very loud at highway speeds. The 1,5T engine would do wonders, at least to the acceleration.

  • avatar

    While we’re at it, how about the 2.0 turbo in the CR-V?

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