Test drive: Honda HR-V 1.5 Hybrid

By thoriq, 02 May 2019
Honda HR-V Hybrid

As it is, the Honda HR-V doesn’t need much convincing. Though the recent mid-life refresh has indeed made things better visually and aesthetically, the HR-V’s base recipe remains unchanged, by which we mean the combination of unrivalled practicality and comfort with a dose of dynamic driving and performance.

Of course, with rising competition from both its Japanese and non-Japanese segment rivals, Honda thought it was perhaps the right time to introduce a new hybrid petrol-electric flavour of this already popular crossover locally. Having sampled this new variant in Langkawi recently, it seems Honda has got things right here.

Honda keenly pointed out that Malaysia is the only market other than Japan to receive this hybrid variant of its popular HR-V crossover, which is also locally assembled (CKD).

On the surface at least, it seems Honda has replicated the ‘Sport Hybrid’ formula as seen in the HR-V’s Jazz and City siblings.


As a result, this crossover ditches its regular 1.8-litre SOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder petrol and CVT setup. Instead, it harnesses a new package featuring a 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder petrol heart, electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, as well as a 7-speed i-DCD auto box.

However, it seems Honda has taken notes from the Jazz and City hybrids. Unlike the said hatch and sedan twin, this crossover’s setup benefits further with a larger capacity electric motor, direct injection, taller final drive ratio, and it gets both its suspension and dampers retuned too.

The end result of these tweaks came into prime once we got going around Langkawi island over two days.  Despite the powertrain boasting higher outputs of 152HP and 190Nm (petrol and electric combined) to drive its front wheels, the HR-V hybrid’s speed and pace do not feel all too different from the non-hybrid versions, but this isn’t a huge bother.

What will impress most will be the near-silent drive when the powertrain goes into its limited full-electric drive mode, especially during low-speed commutes.

It’s also worth noting that the switch between petrol and electric powers, or both combined, felt seamless with no harsh juddering whenever the petrol mill is restarted.

If you never liked the regular HR-V’s CVT box, then you’d be glad to know that this hybrid variant’s dual-clutch automatic boasts an arguably better delivery.

The presence of steering-mounted paddle-shifters also grants greater control over things when needed. It’s not lightning quick with its shifts as how a rivalling European unit is, but it’s far from sluggish to say the least.

Yes, performance isn’t this hybrid powertrain’s main forte. Instead, it’s prowess lies in its ability to be the most efficient offering in its segment.

Drive this car right using the ‘ECON’ mode and Honda’s interactive eco-assist indicator present in the neat hybrid analogue-digital dash display and you’ll probably see yourself hitting close to Honda’s claimed fuel economy average of 3.7 litres/100km.

Naturally, with a hybrid system’s additional electric motor and battery pack equipped, there’s the penalty in both weight and space.

In the Jazz and City hybrid offerings we sampled earlier, it was the weight balance that made things feel a tad bit off, especially in the Jazz hatch. However, this isn’t the case with this hybrid crossover offering.

Drive this car right using the ‘ECON’ mode... and you’ll probably hit close to Honda’s claimed fuel economy average of 3.7 litres/100km.

As mentioned earlier, Honda has tweaked the HR-V Hybrid’s suspension and dampers to cope with the hybrid system’s presence.

This resulted in a rather pleasant drive dynamics that do not feel too far off the non-hybrid HR-V. It’s still a comfort-focused tune, but is far from dull or wayward here to say the least.

Adding to the affair is the cabin’s decently low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels the HR-V already boasts to begin with. Couple that with Honda’s impressive space utilisation approach and impressively comfortable front seats, being in the HR-V Hybrid’s cabin over long drives is no stretch indeed.


Up until this point, it’s plain to see that the HR-V Hybrid drives just as good as it looks. Of course, there are still several other quirks present in this hybrid crossover that one needs to be dealt with. Predictably, the absence of rear air-cond vents will be the biggest gripe for most prospecting buyers.

However, we’ll also add the apparent absence of useful amenities. For instance, we reckon many will agree that a few more 12-volt or USB ports would’ve sweetened things further.

Sadly, the HR-V Hybrid only has one of each, the former (12-volt) located in the lower dash and the latter (USB) being integrated in the infotainment system’s head unit.

Nevertheless, things aren’t too bad considering that Honda has still equipped things like a multi-angle reverse camera plus keyless entry and ignition as standard.

This being a Honda, no expenses were spared on safety too, so you’ll be glad to find six airbags lining the cabin, plus the presence of anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (VSA), hill-start assist (HSA), and ISOFIX child-seat mounts.

Above all though, it’s the HR-V Hybrid’s high utility and practicality that should seal the deal. Despite the battery pack taking up both space and the spare tyre in the boot, there’s still a decent 404 litres of space to lug things about, and that’s before dropping down the 60:40 split folding rear seats.

The HR-V Hybrid is an undeniably good offering. Being the only hybrid in the segment does have its draw, especially on the subject of fuel economy.


This alone is perhaps enough to justify the hybrid crossover’s rather steep RM120,800 sticker price sans insurance and registration. It’s a lot when you consider that this hybrid’s features mirror that of the non-hybrid HR-V 1.8E entry-level variant that costs RM20,000 less.

Nevertheless, the inclusion of Honda’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, free labour on selected scheduled service of up to five times, and eight-year, unlimited mileage warranty for the hybrid system alone should put plenty of nay-sayers at ease too.

Want a HR-V that’s actually both nice to drive and very economical? Then this newly added hybrid version is worth a serious look.


Definitely a better drive with class-leading fuel economy and practicality, but low kit count is a bummer.


  Powertrain   1,496cc 4-cyl + electric motor, FWD, 152bhp, 190Nm
  Price   RM120,800
  Performance   NA
  Economy   3.7/100km (claimed)
  Weight   NA