Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first...

Sanjay · Jun 20, 2022 08:00 PM

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 01

Along the lines of El Clásico, the Manchester Derby, and everything else competitive you'll find one more battle that's heating up: the 2022 Honda HR-V vs Toyota Corolla Cross. Time was on Toyota's side; beating the HR-V to showrooms meant that it is a runaway sales success – but oh boy, is Honda out for blood now.

It's not quite here here yet (though dealer previews are available), so we drove the Thailand-market HR-V RS e:HEV, which Honda tells us will be quite close to what we’ll be getting. A Q3 launch in Malaysia is earmarked, bookings are now open too.

Exterior – Sultry, mature, detailed

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 02

This marks the Hi-Rider Revolutionary Vehicle’s third generation, and everything meaningful is built new from the ground-up. Gone is the angular skin of the old, as this new one takes after its stablemates with more rounded shapes and gentler curves.

Also read: 10 things you might not know about the original Honda HR-V

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 01

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 02

Now, you and I will have something in common if you felt it looked a bit awkward in photos, but you might be pleasantly surprised at how good it looks in person. Elegant, even.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 03

Red heartbeat detail on lower grille is to 'Amp up your life', or so they say

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 04

Part of its aesthetic charms lie in the details. The RS’ ‘diamond-studded' grille (other variants in certain markets get a smoother, EV-like grille), flowy lines, and a sharp raking rear are all things we like. Visually more exciting than a Corolla Cross? You bet.

Also read: 2022 Honda HR-V to launch in Malaysia in July, aimed at Toyota Corolla Cross

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 05

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 06

 Special mention goes to the rear lightbar. Pretty cool to have – especially with clear lenses like this – considering not many cars in this price segment get it.   

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 07

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 08

18-inch wheels look the business

Note that Honda Thailand offers dual-tone paint, matching certain body colours with a black roof. We're not sure certain if this combo will make it to Malaysia.

Interior – Ultra-practical as always

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 09

Honda’s recent tact of simple interiors have been great, playing nice with their ‘man-maximum, machine-minimum’ philosophy. At one glance this has callbacks to the City and Civic, but there's enough differentiation to not make it look like a cost-saving photocopy job.

Also read: Malaysia-bound 2022 Honda HR-V may get Corolla Cross-style CRT TV-like infotainment? Here’s why

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 10

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 11

Two USB ports and one extra storage space

It’s a fairly pleasant cabin though, and we’d go so far as to term it as upmarket. That’s courtesy of how the air-cond vents are designed; the recessed, almost single-piece look is cool. For the first time in a HR-V there’s rear air-cond vents as well.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 12

The whole thing is to prevent air blowing directly on your face

Speaking of cool, you may remember reading about the fancy ‘air diffusion’ system the HR-V boasts. This mode blows air upwards along the windows that caresses rather than blow directly on passengers, resulting in a constant temperature for all occupants. Sounds gimmicky, but it works, and that’s all that matters.

Also Read: Honda explains how the 2021 Honda HR-V's A/C vents work like an air curtain to keep you cool

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 13

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 14

Ah yes, occupants. Quick eyeballing says there’s ought to be about four tennis balls worth of legroom (double the Corolla Cross') but aha, it’s far from feeling properly roomy because of the relatively tight headroom.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 15

Rear seats don't recline, unlike the Corolla Cross

The dark headliner and narrow windows cause this claustrophobic feeling, a similar sensation felt in the City Hatchback RS. In the wrong car this can induce carsickness, thankfully none in the HR-V because it drives well.

Also Read: Review: 2022 Honda City Hatchback - X50 money for a 'small car', but it's big on value

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 16

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 17

Note recessed wireless charger, and small space up top by the USB ports too

Friends and family aside there’s also a lot of space for your (and their) doodads. The Qi wireless charger is also the flat type; good because this doesn’t eat into the centre stack area.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 18

Boot space is healthy, if seemingly a little smaller than the outgoing car due to its swoopy roofline. Questions of volume only tell one part of story though; ease of access is another, and the HR-V is easy to load thanks to its wide-opening powered tailgate.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 19

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 20

For extra volume the Ultra Seats stay; useful because you can get a load of stuff in without having to go to the boot, and this includes a small bicycle or a bit of furniture.

Also Read: Honda City Hatchback's ULTRA seats, as clever as the Jazz's, and still the segment's best

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 21

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 22

Steering wheel controls are logical: infotainment on the left, Sensing on the right

Other nice stuff in the HR-V RS includes the 7-inch semi-digital instrument cluster (same like in the City RS and Civic), the multi-function steering wheel in front of that, and a two-part panoramic glass roof. It's not a sunroof per se as you can't open the glass but rather just slide the sunshade.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 23

For the back you need to pop off a couple of plastic covers, uncharacteristically impractical because then you'll have nowhere to keep them. Shouldn't be a big problem for us anyway as these aren't likely to make it here.

Also Read: Sedan vs SUV: Should you buy the all-new 2022 Honda Civic today or wait for the upcoming HR-V?

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 24

Same player as in...almost everything else Honda Malaysia sells

Then again, HR-Vs in Thailand – very likely Malaysia too – eschew the floating infotainment for a box-style 8-inch screen. Well in execution it’s slick (plus it’s got Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), and sound off the 8-speaker setup is sonorous, but the setup won't win any points for aesthetics.

Driving Perfomance – Grown up

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 25

It's essentially the same powertrain that's in our City RS e:HEV, but the Thai-spec HR-V RS has slightly more power: 8 PS more from the naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre engine (106 PS), and 22 PS more from the electric motor (131 PS), which should help with the extra weight the HR-V commands.

Also Read: Here’s why the all-new 2020 Honda City RS with i-MMD doesn’t need a gearbox

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That, and setting off is aided by the electric motor's instantaneous 253 Nm torque. The dual-motor Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) powertrain in this works in this three-stage manner:

  • EV Drive Mode – Electric-only mode, suitable for city or low speed driving
  • Hybrid Drive Mode – Combined mode to provide maximum torque quickly for smooth and powerful acceleration
  • Engine Drive Mode – Power from the engine is sent directly to the wheels, suited for high-speed driving

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 27

Low-speed driving is sedate thanks to the quiet electric motor, but even with the 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine kicks in, it still stays pretty silent.

Generally speaking it’s a very quiet car anyways, but that’s something we have to prove once we get local units ready for our instrumented tests, just like the fuel consumption, which Honda claims to be 3.9-litres/100 km.

Thai customers only get the hybrid powertrain, but word on the wire is that Malaysia have three engine choices: a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, and a 1.5-litre turbocharged one to join the electrified option.

Also Read: 2022 Honda HR-V has 3 engine options: e:HEV, i-VTEC, VTEC Turbo, which is best for Malaysia?

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 28

There's a drive mode selector too, and yes, it has a Sport mode

And lest you forget the HR-V RS gets the full suite of Honda Sensing too. One major win for it here is the presence of an electric parking brake (EPB) which means one gets true stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, better than the Corolla Cross with its old-timey footbrake.

Ride and handling – Pliant, easy

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 29

There’s a palpable, added pliancy here compared to its slightly duller predecessor, though in certain areas the Toyota Corolla Cross wins crucial points.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 30

It’s most apparent when you take corners at speed (it feels waftier than the Toyota), and general ride sophistication is palpably better in the ‘Cross too.

Also Read: Review: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid - Come on HR-V, give it your best shot

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 31

That said nobody is going to complain about the ride in the HR-V either. Suspension setup at the back is still torsion beam and that's enough for a comfortable experience for passengers, and the driver will appreciate the natural-feeling steering wheel that only requires the gentlest of inputs from you. 

Conclusion – New king of SUVs?

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 32

All things conisdered we’re extremely impressed with the all-new Honda HR-V and not only because it has damn near perfected the concept of space and practicality.

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 33

We like how much it has matured in every other aspect too. It now drives better, comes chock-full of features, performs well and particularly for the RS e:HEV, nets impressive fuel efficiency; which is a plus point considering we might see fuel subsidies as we know it go away.

Also Read: Brace yourself for fuel subsidy cut; RM 4 billion worth of petrol subsidies paid as of March

Review: 2022 Honda HR-V RS - Maybe you'd want to hold the Corolla Cross booking first... 34

Then again, the HR-V’s biggest rival may not be the Corolla Cross after all, but itself. The last-gen HR-V offered so much for something below RM 120k, and that’s exactly the battle the new one has to contend with. Prices will definitely go up, but if Honda Malaysia plays their cards right…it’s an increase that's well worth the money.

Also Read: All-new 2022 Honda HR-V for Malaysia, how much more expensive will it be priced at?

Sanjay

Senior Writer

With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.

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