HR-V: Five years old – One year on.

Honda HR-V

HR-V: Five years old – One year on.

What was your first car? Was it a little Fiesta/Corsa/Panda etc? I bet you had it because of insurance/cheap to run reasons right?

These were the vehicles I was looking at whilst having lessons late 2004/early 2005. None of them really appealed though as I would always be thinking ‘I’d like something a little bigger… with a bit more speed and reliability’.

There was always one car I’d liked the look of when I saw it advertised on TV a few years ago (see www.joy-machine.co.uk for the adverts if you missed them) – the Honda HR-V.

As an added incentive to hurry-up and pass my theory/practical tests I decided to go out and buy one, something that might be seen as rather stupid, but I certainly haven’t regretted it so far!

Here are some of my thoughts on my 2000 HR-V ‘Joy Machine’.

The Good Points.

Where to begin; The HR-V drives as well as it looks with it’s sharp, pointy steering and excellent ability to corner at speed – not bad when you consider it weighs in at 1.2 tonnes and is roughly 1.7m tall (including spoiler).

Although the car was designed in 98/99 it still looks good today. The original 5 spoke OEM wheels really set the car off and look fresh today (the same alloy design was still being used on some of the American designed/built Honda Element’s sold up until 2005).

It looks fun, sporty and ready for a bit of action. The nose is uncluttered and clean and I like how the one-piece front lights cut into the top of the bumper – not once but twice on both sides – giving it a very distinctive look.

The long and thin rear windows stretch backwards to the L-Shaped rear window giving a clean, unfussy look (3-door model).

One of the other nice parts is the full-length roof spoiler and integrated LED brake light, which gives off a huge glow when looking in the rear view mirror at night. The Nissan X-Trail has since copied this spoiler design (badly too, in my opinion).

My ‘V’ had its 45,000 mile service and its third MOT recently, and the only thing that was mentioned were that the brakes were down to 50% on the front – nothing else listed. How many other manufacturers can make a low-volume car (like the HR-V) as reliable as Honda can? A quick look at the Which? website shows in 2003-04 it scored 100% reliability in its annual ‘Car Reliability Survey’.

Once of the best surprises the of owning a HR-V is that its not that thirsty. It gives the illusion of being a big heavy car, but I can get an average of 35mpg out of without thinking about my right foot all the time.

This figure can, of course, drop quite a lot if you push the car hard all the time, which the engine always seems to want to do as it’s quite a small, but ‘thrashy’ engine. The 1.6 does a very good job throughout its range, especially when the V-Tech kicks in, and it’s economical – but a 1.8 or even a 2.0 would have been a nice second/third option.

Insurance for the HR-V is relatively low (Group Eight) putting it with the likes of new Mini Cooper, Citroen C5, Peugeot 407 etc. My first year’s insurance was understandably high due to having no no-claims bonus, but this has dropped by more than half for year two.

The Bad Points.

Space in the HR-V (3-door) is quite limited, especially for rear passengers when the front seats are push part/fully back. This isn’t such a huge problem for me for most of the time as it’s only me in the car. I think Honda were very aware of this problem early on as they quickly introduced a 5-door model a year or so later.

OEM parts/accessories are now very rare and difficult to get hold of, even though the car only went out of production at the end of 2005. One of the most sought after parts is the ‘Centre Armrest-Tidy Box’ which was only ever an aftermarket part. I’ve tried searching numerous dealers and breakers – and even eBay – only to be disappointed every time.

A exhaustive search online can produce plenty of Japanese OEM parts. The likes of Rinkya (it’s a Yahoo! Japan search engine, where I once came across a very rare Mugen one-piece exhaust for the HR-V) and www.dopnet.jp seem to have plenty of parts for sale, including a rare Japan-only bootlid/fold-out table combination, a full car cover, window deflectors and even interior floorlights, but they are limited to GH3/GH4 models, postage appears to be very steep and my Japanese is very limited.

The rear window is a bit of a problem in the wet, as spray quickly mounts on the glass blocking rear visibility. The rear wash/wipe only has an intermittent option which is ok for town driving, but when at speed on motorways in the wet the window is covered quite quickly.

Summary.

The HR-V is a very robust car – a very drivable car