There's nothing like a quick getaway right in your own backyard. It is so easy these days to just hop on a plane and take a break from the fast paced concrete city of Kuala Lumpur to an island seaside resort surrounded by pristine beaches and lush nature.
And that’s exactly what all of us did: members of the local motoring media flew down to Langkawi to spend a few days on the sun-soaked island courtesy of Honda Malaysia.
We weren’t on holiday by any means. We were sent there to spend a bit of time with Honda’s latest sensation, the HR-V compact SUV.
And when we say sensation, we mean it. To date, the HR-V has recorded over 18 thousand bookings nationwide. It is a runaway hit no doubt which surprised even Honda Malaysia as bookings continued to climb surpassing even Honda’s initial conservative figures.
With such a high demand, HR-V customers have to be patient as it can take up to six months before their car is delivered to them.
Honda Malaysia’s managing director and chief executive officer Yoichiro Ueno, who was with the rest of the writers in Langkawi, offered his sincerest apologies to HR-V customers on the waiting list.
“The waiting list is currently around six months for the Honda HR-V and we hope to drastically reduce the waiting time later this year to the usual one-and-a-half months,” said Ueno.
So what’s up with the HR-V SUV that has gotten Malaysians all excited? A lot. There is a lot to like about the HR-V. As soon as we landed in Langkawi International Airport, a fleet of the top-of-the-range V variant HR-Vs were already waiting for us at the car park.
The HR-V comes in three variants - the entry level S, E, and V - and all comes standard with the 1.8 litre, four cylinder, 16 valve SOHC i-VTEC engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It produces 142PS at 6,500rpm and pushes out 172Nm of torque at 4,300rpm.
Also standard with all variants are the 16in wheels, ventilated disc brakes (front) and solid disc (rear) with a MacPherson strut suspension in the front and torsion beam for the rear.
The V variant features all the top trims like smart entry with push start button; LED headlights, daytime running lights and rear combi lights, cruise control, multi-angle rear-view camera, leather steering wheel and gear knob, seven inch display audio with six speakers and six airbags.
The HR-V comes standard with an array of safety features across the board like vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake distribution, brake assist and reverse sensors.
It even features an electric parking brake (say goodbye to the hand brake lever as it has been replaced with a switch-type) and automatic brake hold which is really helpful for city slickers caught in traffic jams as you only need to step on the brakes until the car comes to a full stop and you can remove your feet off the brake pedal.
The car remains stationary until you step on the accelerator and the car starts moving again.
Of course, these are the features in the car itself. What makes the HR-V stand out among the other compact SUVs is its looks followed by its price point starting at RM98,689 to RM118,228.
The HR-V is a head-turner to be sure.
The sculpted lines and creases across the body, the elegant curves on the roofline, the hood and front wheel arches is a testament to Honda’s design aesthetic balancing sharp lines with soft edges.
It’s not hard for people to imagine driving a car like this. It’s modern and sleek appearance including the coupe-like looks when in fact the HR-V has four doors - the rear door handles are ‘hidden’ at the rear door frame is a ‘form follows function’ type design - is a very nice touch.
And it’s just as cool inside as well especially the floating centre console which extends all the way to the armrest. Underneath the centre console is a pocket space where the accessory socket, USB ports and HDMI port is situated and while it’s a great idea, it’s not easily accessible. This is a minor complaint though and I don’t see this as being a deal-breaker.
Interestingly, the passenger side of the dashboard is fitted with the wide, three air-conditioning vents to enhance the air-flow inside the cabin. And the climate-control touch panel as well as the touch controlled display audio system - no buttons here - is another modern approach which matches well with the overall aesthetic of the HR-V.
The leather wrapped three-spoke steering wheel has switches for the entertainment system, hands free telephone and cruise control for the driver’s convenience.
The three-dial instrument cluster is a functional design with the speedometer taking centre stage and comes with seven ambient colours to choose from.
The cabin is spacious and comfortable with the wheelbase measuring in at 2,610mm with just enough leg and head room for rear passengers.
And driving around the HR-V is a breeze. It has enough power and torque that it never feels sluggish for a 1.5 tonne vehicle.
You have a slightly elevated view of your surroundings as is common with SUVs and the steering is light and responsive which makes driving a real pleasure.
As we were traveling around the island of Langkawi with its windy roads, the HR-V handled itself pretty well without excessive body-roll.
There is good acceleration and the brake bite is just right without being too sharp.
The suspension is firm but on the comfortable side and there was only minimal noise, vibration and harshness coming in through the cabin.
All-in-all, the HR-V is a confident car to drive at speed and it is just as nice driving around town with. For those who want more space out of their car, the HR-V can fold its rear seats to free up space from the trunk.
The rear seats can also be folded up for taller objects and the front seat can also be reclined for longer objects.
It’s no wonder this car is such a hit.
The HR-V has the convenience, power, looks and affordability that it will easily make this one of the best selling models in Malaysia for 2015.