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The Australian love affair with the SUV shows little sign of waning. In fact, it's only getting stronger.
July VFACTS figures show that the number of sales across all SUV segments were up compared to the same time last year, with the biggest growth in the Small SUV segment.
The Honda HR-V was the third-best seller in the sub-$40,000 category, as group sales were up 30.9 per cent, while the over-$40,000 end of the segment was up a whopping 116.7 per cent - read the full July VFACTS breakdown here.
The Honda HR-V VTi-L is the latest long termer to grace the CarAdvice Garage with its presence, I'm the lucky custodian and I'm expecting good things from this much-hyped podium dweller.
Our test car is the high-spec VTi-L (from $32,990 plus on-road costs), with the range starting with the VTi ($24,990 before on-roads) then stepping up to the VTi-S ($27,990) as the mid-range offering. Then there is the top-of-the-line VTi-L + ADAS ($33,990), which adds a driver assistance package including Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and High-Beam Support System features.
All variants have the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 105kW at 6500rpm and 173Nm at 4300rpm, and that engine is teamed exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic. Claimed fuel consumption is an impressive 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres.
From the outside at the very least, the HR-V VTi-L looks like a cracker, with LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, keyless entry, push button start, a panoramic sunroof, silver roof rails, a tailgate spoiler, rain sensing windscreen wipers and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Combing through the Honda's interior that sense of satisfaction continues, with 12-volt outlets in the front, rear and cargo areas, dual-zone climate control, alloy sports pedals, chrome interior finishes, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob plus leather-appointed heated seats.
The rear seats fold to offer a variety of configurations for extra cargo space, or a more comfortable space for your pet.
The boot capacity is 437 litres, or 1462L with the rear seat down and gear loaded up to the roof. There's also a space saver spare tyre under the floor in the boot. I personally prefer having a full-size spare, though every litre of extra cargo space counts in this saturated segment.
Taking pride of place in the dash fascia is a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen and you also score Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, an MP4 movie player, a CD player, HDMI connectivity and two USB points up front.
Jumping into the drivers seat and starting the engine, you'll notice the Multi Information Display in the instrument cluster that shows instant fuel economy, average fuel economy, fuel range and outside temperature, and you can also set two customisable speed alerts. However, there's no digital speedo.
At your fingertips, the steering wheel-mounted controls give you access to audio, Bluetooth phone, cruise control and Siri Eyes Free mode if you have an iPhone iOS7 on iPhone 4S or newer.
Hitting the road for the first time in any car is a bit of a treasure hunt and it's always a pleasant surprise each time you discover something new.
The HR-V has a number of features designed to help keep you safe and alert while on the road, including: City-Brake Active system (autonomous emergency braking below 30km/h), LaneWatch (a very clever camera system that shows you what's in your blind-spot on the media screen when you put your left indicator on), a reverse-view camera with normal, wide or top-down angles with either dynamic or fixed guidelines, parking sensors at the front and rear and a tyre deflation warning system.
Based on first impressions, the HR-V is a treat to drive. A number of the CA team have already grabbed the keys and taken it for a quick spin and first impressions have been overwhelmingly positive.
CVTs cop a lot of flack around this office, so there have been looks of surprise on many a face as they've dropped the keys back into the fishbowl, which has been interesting to note.
Does it come with peace-of-mind? Well, with a three-year/100,000km warranty, it's certainly not the top of the class, but it does have a capped-price service program for up to five years or 100,000km, with maintenance intervals every 12 months or 10,000km (which is a little shorter than some rivals in terms of distance). There's also six-year rust perforation warranty. Bonus.
With the Honda set to bunk with us for the next few months, there'll be plenty of opportunity to put it through its paces.
A road trip is a must. I'm not sure how far the Honda and I will wander yet but Spring is on the way so a run to Byron Bay might be the way to go.
Date acquired – August 2015
Odometer reading – 5901km
Travel since previous update – N/A
Consumption since previous update – N/A
Photography by Mitchell Oke.