After missing from the Middle Eastern market for over a decade, Honda’s HR-V had to make a striking entry into the highly competitive compact crossover segment. And a look at its latest iteration might suggest that the Japanese manufacturer has got it just right.

With the 2019 HR-V, Honda hit the bullseye in a market that was dominated by the likes of Renault Duster, Nissan Kicks and Toyota Rush. A decade after it was discontinued in the UAE, the HR-V was globally pushed to its second generation with major cosmetic as well as mechanical tweaks.

The 2019 HR-V keeps with the segment’s soft-edge vogue. Its second generation went under Honda’s scalpel to sport a look similar to its siblings. In all, the compact SUV’s styling influences are not hard to pick. The ‘solid wing face’ front end and the recessed door handles just ahead of the C-pillar let the HR-V have a neat, subdued, compact appearance.

Honda HR-V

The second-generation HR-V sports similar design to its siblings.

Just like the Jazz, Honda aims to avoid having the HR-V compared to cars a segment above it. This suggests that it occupies a slightly unorthodox but widely sought-for market position. Being heavier than some of its rivals, and notably expensive than others, Honda would prefer to draw your attention inside where it claims to have brought MPV-styled spaciousness to the crossover segment.

With a long wheelbase, Honda has got the formula right to woo its rear passengers. The spacious leg room and generous headroom are only the beginning of what the cabin has to offer. Honda calls the unconventionally placed fuel tank under the front seat as ‘Magic Seat’. This comes with a variety of internal configurations.

The option to fold away the front passenger seat and accommodate items of almost 2.5 metres in length or lock the rear seat base vertically to stow anything up to 1.2m tall is just the kind of practicality that small crossovers usually intimate – and then fail to deliver. But this Honda excels at practicality.

The HR-V, like the (now discontinued) Jazz, also has the feature of the 60:40 split rear seat that can dive down to the floor, making a large space truly vast, or tip up to allow for sideways loading of awkward objects like a bicycle. The compact SUV ships with a 6.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with USB and HDMI ports. You can easily pair your smartphone with the car and access functionalities such as music and telephony.

The HR-V's interior puts up a worthy fight among its rivals with more leg room and generous head space.

Honda has graced the new HR-V with a sumptuous list of driver assistance systems as well as safety features. It offers Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, standard driver and passenger front airbags on all grades, side airbags and side curtain airbags, Electronic Brake Distribution, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Hill Start Assist and Honda’s next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure.

Engine choice on the HR-V can’t get any simpler. The compact SUV is powered by a 1.8L i-VTEC petrol engine that is good for 140hp and 172Nm of torque. The HR-V is front-wheel drive, driven by a 7-speed fully-automatic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Put your foot down and one can experience the revised shift mapping that resembles the stepped gear changes of a conventional fixed-gear transmission.

Honda’s efforts to faithfully borrow all the good from the Jazz have definitely paid off. Equipped with the latest technology and a fresh design, the new HR-V could make some ripples in its segment. You can get your hands on the standard variant of the Honda HR-V at AED 69,000 while the top-rung variant will cost you AED 89,000.