The Honda HR-V has stood tall against an influx of new rivals, remaining one of the better sellers in the small SUV segment. But that doesn’t mean Honda will rest on its laurels.
The Japanese brand’s Australian arm is set to offer an “upgrade” on the current model imminently, ahead of a more comprehensive HR-V update due early in 2018.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins confirmed the HR-V will be freshened-up soon, but wouldn't specify what to expect. We think it’ll be the option of an in-built satellite navigation system, rather than the smartphone app-based system currently offered, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
“HR-V has been very consistent,” Collins said. “On average we do about 1000 per month – sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. [Toyota] C-HR has recently come in, and we’ve still been pretty consistent at that level. So we think it provides a good package.
“We’ve been very happy, despite lots of new entrants coming in. There’s more coming, of course, so we need to keep it fresh and we need to keep working on that,” he said.
“We’ve got an upgrade coming in the not-too-distant future, and the normal cycle would be that maybe next year we would have a minor cycle change – styling and so forth, which fits into the normal life-cycle,” he said.
That update will likely include a range of cosmetic changes – expect a revised front bumper and grille, perhaps new light graphics and maybe even some interior design changes, too.
What buyers shouldn’t expect is an expanded model range. The way the current HR-V is structured is pretty simple: all models have a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic, with drive sent to the front wheels. In other markets there’s a manual transmission with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive with an auto, not to mention a hybrid drivetrain.
“If we had the option we would probably do it,” Collins said of adding a more affordable six-speed manual model, like the one sold in the US.
“I don't think it makes an impact on the volume we achieve, but clearly a lot of the competitors have a manual price point, and they sell a small number. If that option was available to us, we would probably take it.
“We’re pretty happy – in fact, we’re more than pretty happy, we’re very happy with HR-V. The vast majority of that segment is two-wheel drive, the vast majority is petrol. The customers – from an engine perspective, we get good feedback. It provides good performance, good economy,” he said.
“You can always add heaps of grades and other engines and this type of stuff, but we’re going to stick to what’s core – and what’s core in the segment and is working really well for us is two-wheel drive, petrol engines, with a relatively simple grade line-up.
“We’ve got no plan to change our strategy on where we place that car.”