The Possibility of a Hotter Honda HR-V Emerges
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.
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