The next-generation of Honda’s HR-V, the brand’s popular compact SUV, has been engineered with a focus on maximising driver enjoyment and comfort. Compared to its predecessor, the all-new HR-V has a more rigid body structure and benefits from extensive suspension, steering and braking enhancements. This allows it to respond more precisely to driver inputs, and delivers a more assured, more rewarding and more comfortable driving experience.
Offered exclusively as a hybrid, the HR-V has been crafted to be both extremely enjoyable and responsive to drive, as well as highly efficient. The two-motor e:HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) powertrain, which also features in the recently launched Honda Jazz, benefits from advancements made over 20 years of Honda hybrid development. For its application in the HR-V, there have been a number of revisions to counter the additional size and mass of the SUV over the Jazz. Power and torque have been increased to 96kW (131PS) with 253Nm respectively, whilst the final gear ratio has also been lowered for better driving performance.
The e:HEV battery system in the HR-V has higher energy density that enables it to generate greater output. The number of cells in the battery has been boosted by 25%, from 48 cells in the Jazz e:HEV to 60. This increased battery capacity enables the HR-V to realise SUV driving characteristics. The battery was identified as the ideal size as it not only allows for increased motor output, but it’s also compact enough to not impact on interior space and enables the HR-V to feature the flat floor.
Honda’s engineers also analysed every aspect of the driving experience to optimise the HR-V’s dynamics. Their attention to detail has seen the torsional rigidity and spring rate of the steering column increased, to deliver a smoother feel during direction changes. Initial corner turn-in is more direct and precise, with the overall feel during manoeuvres much more linear when compared to the previous generation HR-V, and inspiring confidence through stable and predictable handling.
The suspension is also more responsive, with an improvement in friction right from the first steering input, compared to the outgoing model. To achieve this, the spring offset is increased to reduce lateral forces on the damper, which also features reduced inner friction. This combines with the low-friction ball joints and optimised bushings to provide a more linear and smooth movement.
At the rear, the compliance bushes have been modified in both construction and design to improve rear wheel control and ride comfort. The, now, liquid-filled bushes offer up increased damping performance and offer supreme low-frequency performance providing excellent primary ride, whilst absorbing certain frequency vibrations to improve secondary ride. In revising the bush design, a flange has been added to reduce lateral movement across the bush. By offering a more secure seating, the spring rate of the bush has also been reduced to further improve handling and ride comfort.
Assured stopping power is delivered by a powerful braking system featuring 293mm ventilated front discs and 282mm solid discs at the rear. Furthermore, a bespoke electric servo brake mated to the e:HEV system smoothly controls the regenerative and hydraulic brakes, affording smooth brake feel. Additionally, the HR-V’s brake pedal is positioned with a keener focus on ergonomics, reducing driver fatigue over long distances.
The ideal platform for class-leading dynamics and comfort
Honda’s current global small platform has been updated for the HR-V, with the ratio of high-tensile steel increased for improved body rigidity. In addition, 980 high-lambda steel is applied to the floor centre crossmember and the centre pillar inner, further increasing strength and reducing weight by 1.5kg. A ring structure has been added behind the C-pillars for further chassis reinforcement, allowing for greater control over each individual wheel offering improved ride quality and dynamic behaviour.
As well as minimising the weight impact of electrification and improving safety performance, the additional rigidity combines with the low-friction suspension upgrades and the longer wheelbase to provide impressive base stability. This means large road bumps are easily absorbed, creating a flatter ride, while vibrations from the road are supressed and engine resonance is reduced.
Honda’s all-encompassing approach to NVH management extends to reducing sound pressure change when starting the engine from EV mode and supressing engine noise at higher speeds. Engineers also worked to reduce low-frequency road noise caused by road surface changes, further improving the cabin ambience for a more relaxing drive.
By repeatedly tuning and testing every element that directly impacts on the driving experience, Honda has significantly enhanced the overall handling capability and comfort of the HR-V. As well as being perfectly suited to the responsive nature of the HR-V’s electrified powertrain, this new dynamic character complements the car’s outstanding contemporary design and superior levels of interior comfort and space, making the car stand out in the competitive compact B-SUV segment.