Hybrids are coming in the ‘near future’, says company president
Even casual observers of the automotive industry know that the crossover market (particularly its subcompact segment) is a busy and popular market – second only, perhaps, to budget hatches and entry-level car rides. range that have flooded the market and quenched its thirst for affordable mobility.
In truth, the SUV has always been among the lofty goals of those who can afford it. As our population moves inexorably towards increased mobility, a glut of brands can only be good news.
And when it comes to SUVs, Honda can never be off topic. According to Lyka-Mae de la Cruz-Andres, public relations manager of Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI), the popular CR-V has sold a total of some 12.6 million units worldwide since the model’s debut. in 1995 until March 2022.
Meanwhile, the smaller HR-V is no slouch either, with 3.5 million examples ending up in garages around the world. And since the introduction of the nameplate in 2015 in the Philippines, the HR-V has moved some 7,000 units.
Now the all new iteration is here.
Naturally, HCPI considers this to be an important release. The company’s first physical launch event since the COVID-19 pandemic underscored this, saying “the Honda HR-V is poised to once again create a new phenomenon in the automotive industry by delivering new premium value. to customers”.
The third-generation HR-V was unveiled at the Blue Leaf Events Pavilion in Taguig – a show seen virtually simultaneously at Honda Cars Cebu, and was also streamed on the official Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) Facebook page.
Two variants are available: the S CVT (at 1.25 million P) and the V Turbo CVT (1.598 million P). Significantly, both are equipped with Honda Sensing, the Japanese brand’s exclusive suite of safety and driver assistance features.
In an exclusive interview with this writer, HCPI President Masahiko Nakamura said, “Our goal is to increase our sales and market share now that the subcompact SUV segment is growing more and more, especially with new products from China and other companies.
He continued, “By introducing the HR-V, we hope to increase our presence in the Philippines and we also want to strengthen our security strategy in the country. The executive predicts 10% to 15% growth for the auto industry in 2022, and added that he expects Honda to top that “by adding more models”.
Last year, Honda broadly elucidated its aspirations to achieve “zero fatalities involving Honda motorcycles and automobiles worldwide by 2050”. Two technologies should make this possible, the company said: the world’s first intelligent driving assistance technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI) “providing assistance tailored to each individual’s ability and situation to reduce driving errors and risks, helping the driver achieve safe and healthy driving. Second, Safe and Sound Network Technology, “which connects all road users, both people and mobility products, through telecommunications, which predicts potential hazards and helps people avoid those hazards before collisions actually happen”. A closer target is a commitment to “halve the number of fatalities in road accidents involving Honda motorcycles and automobiles by 2030”.
Continuing to develop Honda Safety Sensing is only part of the strategy. It’s really about making safety technology more universally available in the company’s four-wheeled and two-wheeled vehicles. And that’s exactly what HCPI is doing here and now.
Mr. Nakamura commented: “(In two years) we will introduce more models with Honda Sensing. I hope this helps realize Honda’s vision of a collision-free society. »
Back at the HR-V, the executive said he realized the model would have its work cut out for it, but it would have to be up to the task. “When we launched the previous HR-V, there was no competition, so we could dominate – and the sales are much higher than the current situation,” he said with a laugh. “But I think with this brand new HR-V we have increased the competitiveness of the product and we have set a very competitive price. We hope to be able to sell more than 100 per month.
Conceptually, the HR-V adopts the overall theme “Amplify Your Life”, under which are “functionality, safety and advanced features, sophisticated design and superior driving experience”, based on the three core values of “fun”, “confidence, and “aesthetics”.
On the outside, the HR-V adopts a more dynamic and aggressive look, highlighted by a new design of headlights and fog lights (with LED). The headlights turn on and off automatically and also include daytime running lights. Those light-up eyes frame a mesh-style grille on the V Turbo CVT variant and a black bar-style grille on the S CVT. Honda adds more style to the V-trim with a sportier bumper with the so-called Amp Up Line design – similar to an ECG blip.
Seen from the side, the HR-V retains its quasi-coupé appearance with a fastback-like profile and discreet rear door handles integrated into the C-pillar. A shark fin antenna is common to both variants, as are the 17-inch alloy wheels (although with different looks) fitted with 215/60 tyres. At the rear, an LED taillight bar runs the full width of the vehicle, while a twin tailpipe layout with finishers is available on the V variant.
A “human-centric cabin” welcomes the driver and passengers on board, Honda said in a statement, and added that it was “designed with good ergonomics and treated with quality materials”. It also offers optimized comfort, premium features and subcompact crossover versatility.
An eight-inch touchscreen audio device finds expression in a six-speaker audio system (which includes two tweeters). Mobile devices will be supported via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The HR-V features a one-push start system, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and single-zone automatic climate control with rear air vents. An interesting novelty is a so-called air diffusion system “which evenly distributes the natural breeze to all occupants throughout the cabin”. Speaking of which, both trims come standard with a remote engine start feature, which allows the driver to start the engine (and, presumably, the air conditioning with it) by pressing a button on the key fob.
Leather wraps the seats of the V Turbo CVT, while cloth is the material of choice for the S CVT. The upper variant’s instrument cluster features a seven-inch digital display; the S CVT comes with a slightly smaller 4.2-inch digital display.
HR-V navigators should be delighted with a distinctly Honda (and useful) feature making its way to the vehicle: the so-called ULT (Utility, Long, Tall) seats. This acronym essentially captures the flexibility of interior space. In utility mode, both rear seats can be folded down for more cargo space, which is underlined by Honda’s “fold-flat flexibility”. Long mode sees the front and rear seats folded down to swallow a particularly stretched payload, while Tall mode can be achieved by tilting the rear seats for maximum vertical space. Honda said this flexibility is exclusive to HR-V in the segment.
Two mills feed the two variants. The S CVT gets a 1.5-litre DOHC VTEC that produces 121bhp and 145Nm, while the V Turbo CVT gets a 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo (making this HR-V the first to benefit from the forced induction) which releases 177 hp and 240 Nm. Both engines are mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Drivers can also change the drive modes to Econ (for optimum fuel efficiency), Normal (for general everyday driving) and Sport Mode (for the V Turbo CVT only, which revs the engine more easily).
As mentioned, both trims get Honda Sensing (the same version of which is seen in the recently launched Civic), which provides the following safety measures: collision avoidance braking system, adaptive cruise control with low-speed Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation System with Lane Departure Warning, Auto High Beams and Lead Car Departure Notification System. These features are made possible by a monocular camera with a wider field of view, as well as improved software. “Updated safety technology enables better recognition of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and road markings,” Honda said. In addition to these, the HR-V’s standard safety, convenience and protection features include: smart keyless entry, security alarm and immobilizer, seat belt reminder for all passengers, front and side airbags, speed-sensing door locks, Isofix child seat anchors, rear seat reminder, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution, vehicle stability assist, hill descent control hill, hill start assist, etc. Complementing these elements, a G-force Control (G-Con) body absorbs shock in the event of a collision, for increased passenger protection.
HCPI said the HR-V is now available through its network of 37 dealerships nationwide. It is available in four colors: Ignite Red Metallic, Platinum White Pearl (for an additional 20,000P), Premium Opal White Silver Pearl (a new color exclusive to V Turbo CVT, and is also available for an additional 20,000P), and Gray metallic meteoroid.
Meanwhile, we interviewed Mr. Nakamura about HCPI’s electrification plans. “Honda has already announced that by 2040 we will make our products all-electric,” he replied. “Sooner or later we will introduce electric vehicles, but I think it’s better if we start from the hybrid. Please look forward to seeing our hybrid model in the near future.
A hybrid in the near future. You read that here first.