Honda solves your coupe dilemma

YOU can see the dilemma. You want a sleek and sexy coupe with thrilling performance and exciting handling, but your lifestyle demands a sensible vehicle such as an SUV.

You can’t have both in one vehicle. At least you couldn’t until now.

Honda believe they have created the ultimate vehicle, the coupe SUV. It is a car, so the theory goes, that will do the family stuff but will also be fun on the open road.

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This is the HR-V, a car which Honda say is unmatched. So, how does it match up?

Well, in short, Honda might have overstated the case. If you really want a coupe, this won’t come anywhere near to meeting your desires.

But if you want an SUV with a little more spirit and fire in its belly, than this might just be the car for you.

HR-V was first launched in 1999 and was notable for being a tall and quite offbeat.

The latest generation is altogether more sporty. It has a lower stance and, Honda insists, looks like a coupe from the side. Possibly, they’re right. It certainly looks leaner and more athletic than a traditional SUV.

It is basically a crossover - it’s sometimes called a CUV (crossover utility vehicle) rather than SUV (sports utility vehicle).

It costs from £18,495 and comes in four trim levels - S, SE, SE Navi and EX. Tested here is the flagship EX which, as you might expect, is very well equipped.

At £26,055 it isn’t cheap but it comes with smart entry and start (which means you can open the doors and fire up the engine without ‘using’ the key), glass sunroof, auto-dimming mirror, leather heated seats, parking camera and roof rails.

There is also a fabulous ‘infotainment’ system with 7in touchscreen, Aha music app and even web browsing.

The cabin is more akin to a coupe than an SUV and it has a refined feel. The traffic sign reognition function is terrific and it has a speed limiter which can read signs and keep you within the law.

The ride and handling is good. It is firmer and more planted than a lot of SUVs but it is not sporty by any means.

The engine - in this case a 1.6 litre diesel - is stunning, offering 0 to 60mph in 10.5 seconds and managing 70mpg on a run. Who says SUVs aren’t green?

Certainly, it looks cool and edgy compared to some mainstream SUVs and starting at £18,000, it is competitively priced.

Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX Manual

PRICE: £26,055. Range starts at £18.495

ENGINE: A 1,597cc four cylinder unit generating 120bhp via all front wheel drive

PERFORMANCE: Top speed 119mph and 0 to 60mph in 10.5 seconds

COSTS: Town 67.3mpg; country 74.3mpg; combined 70.6mpg

EMISSIONS: 108g/km


WARRANTY: Three years, 90,000 miles