- Comfortable to drive with plenty of zip
- Generously equipped but not overcomplicated
- Excellent space for occupants and luggage
- Honda cars are never a cheap option and the ZR-V keeps up that tradition
- Some rivals are more fun to drive
- Drive modes didn’t seem to alter the handling very much
Honda’s all-new ZR-V bridges the gap between the company’s HR-V and CR-V models and is the Japanese carmaker’s latest electrified SUV offering a blend of strong performance, dynamic styling and comfort.
Customers can select from three trim levels called Elegance, Sport and Advance with all cars powered by the same highly-acclaimed e-HEV technology that was introduced in the recently-launched new Civic.
Boasting five-door practicality with impressive storage facilities, along with a neatly styled feature-rich cabin, the ZR-V is the complete package for anyone in the market for a compact SUV.
And if you’re wondering about the name, apparently ZR-V stands for Z Runabout Vehicle with the Z being a reference to Generation Z which is people born after the mid 1990s. And that is Honda’s target audience for this car.
We tested the Honda ZR-V Advance on the roads and mountains around Barcelona.
The Honda ZR-V is definitely a looker with dynamic styling guaranteed to turn heads. The main focal point is the gloss black grille with vertical bars on both Elegance and Sport versions, while Advance models gain a honeycomb finish. There are slimline headlights with clearly defined signature lights at both the front and rear so the vehicle is easily recognisable at night.
Dual exhaust pipes, hidden wipers along with 18-inch alloy wheels complete the exterior styling.
Moving inside, the interior is clean, clutter-free, modern and feature-rich with high quality materials. There is a nine-inch touchscreen in the centre of the upper dashboard, a split-layer centre console (which is unique to the ZR-V), a shift-by-wire gear selector and three-spoke steering wheel which is leather wrapped with gloss black accents.
Dependant on trim, seats are upholstered in fabric, part-leather or full leather. These are powered-adjustable on the higher grades and heated as standard. The high-end ZR-V Advance also gains heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
Behind the wheel is a 10.2-inch driver information display and Advance versions also feature a head-up display for added convenience.
On-board technology includes an eight or 12-speaker sound system, DAB radio, Honda CONNECT with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rear-view camera and plenty more besides.
And there is a charging pad along with four USB and USB-C ports throughout the car to keep devices connected on the move.
The cockpit is driver-focused with all dials, controls and readouts easy to access and it is always good to see a number of physical controls for features such as the climate control which makes life behind the wheel that much easier.
On The Road
Handling & Performance
The technology powering the ZR-V is built around Honda’s impressive e:HEV hybrid system although this new car features an upgraded version of the twin electric motor system.
There is a 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine, along with two motors, that, when combined, deliver torque comparable to a 3.0-litre engine.
With a power output of 184PS and 315Nm of torque, the ZR-V can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in just 7.8 seconds (Elegance), 7.9 seconds (Sport) or 8.0 seconds (Advance) with all versions maxing out at 107mph.
Our ZR-V Advance test car was beautifully composed on the fast motorways cruising effortlessly at the national speed limits of Spain. Steep mountain climbs were easily conquered and, when faced with the winding descent, it was balanced and assured with plenty of grip into tight corners and no sign of body sway.
Driver visibility is excellent and the ride was well cushioned, although Spanish roads are far superior to those in the UK. That said; the suspension set-up did a fabulous job of smoothing out any bumpy surfaces. Special mention to the excellent insulation system too with barely a sound filtering into the cabin keeping occupants protected from the outside world.
The car will automatically switch between EV, Hybrid and Engine Drive with no input from the driver and this ensures maximum efficiency is achieved.
In addition, there are four manually-operated drive modes called Normal, Sport, Eco and Snow that will marginally alter the driving characteristics of the vehicle. This is the first Honda SUV to feature a Snow mode.
And while the car cleverly recoups energy under braking, there are steering wheel-mounted paddles to offer driver control over the force of the regenerative braking.
Space & Practicality
The Honda ZR-V is athletically designed so will attract plenty of admiring glances. But it is billed as a compact SUV so needs to tick all the practicality boxes too. And, in most instances, it achieves that.
The vehicle is 4,568mm long, 1,898mm wide (with door mirrors folded) and 1,620mm tall. It has a wheelbase of 2,657mm and the cabin is spacious with ample room for a couple of six footers up front.
In the back, the seating is very similar to the Honda Civic and that means generous levels of legroom and elbow space. The headroom is also good although it is compromised slightly if you opt for the model with the sunroof. That said, a couple of six-foot tall adults can sit comfortably without any complaints. Add a third and it gets a little cosy.
The boot can swallow 370 litres of luggage and that capacity increases to 1,291 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Other versions apart from the ZR-V Advance have a larger boot capacity ranging from 380 to 1,312 litres because they do not have to accommodate a large sub-woofer speaker.
A flat cargo floor, along with wide-opening aperture, are handy factors if loading heavy or awkwardly-shaped items and there is an automatic tailgate on the Sport grade and above. This system also features a kick sensor so the boot can be opened by waving your foot beneath the bumper – a great feature if approaching the car laden down with shopping bags.
Elsewhere, there is a glovebox, a centre tray, a tall centre console with good storage capacity, a sunglasses holder, front and rear cup holders, door pockets that are angled to prevent water bottles sliding about and seat back pockets.
The ZR-V has a braked towing limit of 750kg.
The Honda ZR-V ranges from £39,495 For the Elegance trim, £41,095 for Sport and £42,895 for the high-end Advance version.
According to official figures, under WLTP testing, the ZR-V Elegance can deliver 49.5mpg with carbon emissions of 130g/km, the Sport can achieve 48.7mpg with CO2 of 131g/km and the Advance will also deliver 48.7mpg but has a slightly higher carbon emissions figure at 132g/km.
The CO2 figure on the ZR-V Advance model that we tested would result in a first-year road tax bill, or Vehicle Excise Duty to give it the official name, of £255. This would drop to the standard fee of £180 after 12 months.
But, as the ZR-V Sport and Advance versions cost in excess of £40k, these models will be subject to an additional government premium car levy which will add a further £390 to the annual charge from years two to six. If you want to avoid the additional payment, the Elegance trim sneaks in just below the £40k cap.
Anyone considering the Honda ZR-V Advance model as a company car would see a Benefit in Kind tax rating of 31 per cent. Insurance groups are yet to be announced.
The Honda ZR-V has some stiff competition from the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Vauxhall Grandland and Hyundai Tucson to name just a few. And this is a sector that is growing in popularity meaning vying for sales is exceptionally challenging.
But car buyers do like a brand-new model and Honda has an exceptionally loyal fanbase who will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the ZR-V.
And they won’t be disappointed as, like all Honda models, there are no nasty surprises. It looks smart, drives really nicely and is very, very practical – it will suit Honda owners to a tee.
Customers can order the ZR-V from July at which time it will be appearing in showrooms and first deliveries will be in October.