Honda HR-V RS e:HEV: Stepping up the momentum

By HONG BOON HOW | 9 June 2022

There has been no doubt that Honda's HR-V sports utility vehicle (SUV) had been a runaway success since its local introduction in February 2015.

The model then opened the door for a new segment of buyers who were interested in getting their first SUV or crossover but did not want a model that was too big or expensive.


In addition to its trendy looks, the HR-V also had the rear Ultra seats that enabled various seating and utility modes to increase interior functionality.

Honda Malaysia held a media teaser drive of the all-new HR-V in Thailand last week that it intends to launch locally soon.

READ MORE: New Honda HR-V open for viewing from June 18


Building on the success of the older model, the new HR-V gets new levels of refinement, styling and improved safety features such as Honda Sensing.

We drove the RS e:HEV, the top Thai variant, in a round trip from Phuket to Krabi and back, covering some 400km on a mix of highways, hilly stretches and trunk roads.


The new HR-V, despite being 15mm lower, has a similar footprint with the out-going model.

Both models have the same wheelbase and width of 2,610mm and 1,790mm respectively.


Although the non-RS variant of the new HR-V is 4mm shorter at 4,330mm compared with the older model, the new RS e:HEV variant is 55mm longer due to its extended front and rear RS lower bumpers that come in glossy black with chrome trimmings.

The new RS e:HEV is bolder-looking with a combination of a beefy front with slim LED headlights framing a more assertive RS glossy black octagon-styled mesh grille featuring chromed studs.


The rear comes with a tantalising coupe-like styling compared with the older hatchback-type design.

However, boot space this time is smaller at 320 litres, down by some 80 litres compared to the previous RS hybrid model's.


Tail lights are slimmer and smoked, and each have an LED lighting strip that stretch out towards a large blue-tint Honda emblem at the middle of the tailgate.

From the side, the RS e:HEV's large 18-inch wheels with glossy black sills and wheel arch claddings add a layer of urban sportiness.


Similar to the out-going model, the exterior rear door releases are black and located at the edge of the door window line to portray a two-door appearance.

Inside, the vehicle looks fresh with a cleaner dashboard design, a centre 8-inch infotainment display with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, new air-conditioner vents and wipers set below the base of the front windscreen for better visibility.


The leather and synthetic leather upholstery with red stitching are premium feeling and comfortable for long distance driving.

Although leg and elbow room remain largely the same, tall passengers will notice that head space is slightly reduced due the new HR-V's lower overall height.


The swoopy design of the rear windscreen also caused it to edge closer to the head space of rear passengers but we did not find this to be an issue.

Provided for rear passengers are rear air-conditioner vents and two USB ports for charging smart devices.


The Thai-spec vehicle also had a panoramic glass roof with openings for front and rear passengers.

The front opening features a manual sliding shade, while the rear gets two clip-on shades.


The RS e:HEV features a dual cam 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle i-VTEC petrol/electric hybrid powertrain similar to that used in the City RS e:HEV.

The new HR-V's petrol engine and electric drive motor are more powerful at 106PS (+8PS) and 131PS (+23PS) respectively over the City RS e:HEV's.


However, the maximum engine and electric motor torque levels are 127Nm and 253Nm respectively which are identical to those of the City RS e:HEV.

Generally, the RS e:HEV runs on electric power with the petrol engine coming into play at higher cruising speeds or when the electric motor and high voltage lithium-ion battery needs power.


What we liked was that the engine cut-in to provide charging and drive power was smooth and hardly felt except for the engine sound.

Regulating power to the front wheels is done by an electric continuously variable transmission (e-CVT).


Despite being a heavier vehicle at 1,407kg, the RS e:HEV's powertrain still manages enough grunt for a satisfying take-off.

The front MacPherson struts with a stabiliser bar and rear torsion beam suspension are firm enough to provide minimal body roll and a planted ride at high speeds but still comfortable for driving on rough roads.


The electric power steering of the RS e:HEV had variable gear ratio (VGR) which not only provided good feel but also allowed the driver to make less turning when steering the car.

This was very useful as it enabled us to tackle winding roads on the way to Phang Nga without the need to turn the steering wheel too much.


As long as the RS e:HEV is running gently on electric mode, the interior atmosphere can be as hushed and refined as in a premium car.

The RS e:HEV will still remain relatively quiet when cruising steadily at 120kph with minimal noises from wind, tyres and engine intruding into the cabin.


Floor the accelerator during this instance or when going up a slope, the SUV picks up pace quickly but the hurried engine will get louder.

The front ventilated disc and rear solid disc brakes offer confident stopping power and are more responsive compared with the spongy feel found in many hybrids and EVs.


Features include smart key entry, push start/stop ignition, front sequential turning lights, deceleration paddle selectors, electric parking brake, three driving modes of Econ, Normal and Sport, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and Auto Brake Hold.

Also included are six airbags, eight-way driver power seat, 7-inch TFT multi-information display (MID), wireless charging for smartphones, reverse camera and hands-free power tailgate with walk-away close among others.


The RS e:HEV also gets the Honda LaneWatch camera system while the Honda Sensing driver aid system includes collision mitigation braking system, lane keeping assist system, road departure mitigation with lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, automatic high beam and lead car departure notification.

The Thai RS e:HEV comes with high specifications and Malaysian buyers will soon know if the local HR-V versions would be similarly equipped.


Overall, the new HR-V is an appealing design in an enticing package that should continue to sway new  followers.