Backup has arrived: The Honda HR-V RS Navi

This crossover is here to reinforce Honda's position in the market
by Ian Magbanua | Aug 23, 2018

Does this refresh offer enough to reinforce its place in the segment? PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

This is my first time behind the wheel of the revamped Honda HR-V, and with the few hours that I was able to spend with the restyled and relabeled model, I've picked up a couple of things as to why it's a hot seller. Ladies and gentlemen, here's the 2018 Honda HR-V RS Navi. Let's take a peek into this refresh to see how it plans to defend its position in the market.

The makeover puts the new HR-V RS Navi right smack in the middle of its stablemates when it comes to the visual treatment. The cross-cut headlamps and forward-angled grille elements mirror those of the Civic, Jazz, Mobilio, and even its bigger brother, the CR-V.

Although the headlamps are the same size as the older ones, the redesign places some of the grille's elements into the top of the headlamp, therefore creating the effect that the LED units are thinner and sharper. New, LED-strip foglights are set into a redesigned bumper unit, along with a sharper, more angular chin spoiler painted in gloss black.

The new-look face really suits the HR-V's exterior design. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

A new honeycomb grille sits right below the black-chrome strip that unifies the front with the headlamps, too. For 2018, the HR-V now sports new, gloss-black aero bits, and overfenders for the RS variant. It also gets the special 'Phoenix Orange' color that we first saw in the Mobilio RS.

The first iteration of the HR-V first appeared in E and EL trims, with the latter being the more premium model. For 2018, Honda Cars Philippines is dropping the EL trim in favor of the RS, which is, for all intents and purposes, Honda-speak for "top-of-the-line" for most of its local models. The E trim remains, but receives some trickle down visual upgrades in the form of LED headlamps and taillights, along with the newer and sharper underbody aero, albeit in plastic black. Whereas the outgoing models shared their wheels, there are new 17-inch ones in different five-spoke designs for both the RS and E trims.

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The RS still runs on the same 1.8-liter engine as the pre-refresh model. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

Another item that continues on, of course, is the 1.8-liter i-VTEC R18 engine. The 140hp lump is shared with the current 1.8-liter model Civic, which should ensure that technical know-how and parts can be shared for future maintenance concerns.

On the inside, not much has changed aside from the switch to fingerprint magnets, AKA, piano black plastic trims. The RS gets leather seats while the E trim gets fabric ones.

The new HR-V is one of the few current Honda models to feature a non-OEM entertainment unit. Both RS and E trims get a 7-inch Kenwood unit, but with added GPS and navigation capabilities for the former. The new unit also adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Air Mirroring (Yay for Android users!) to the list of new creature comforts that are more aligned with current market trends. But at the end of the day, what you get is a kick-ass, six-speaker stereo system from which you can enjoy your favorite tunes.

This is the first Honda to come with a non-OEM head unit. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

The HR-V's interior is interesting to me for one simple reason: The car is based on the Jazz. As such, the two cars share the benefits of flexible seating, and one gets to enjoy the multitude of configurations that the seats have to offer. In the brochure, Honda talks of three popular ones: Utility, Long, and Tall. I'm pretty sure myself and a lot of others out there can squeeze in one or two more configurations to that list.

The one curious thing though, is that the new RS model drops its front curtain airbags from the feature list, whereas the outgoing EL trim had them. So from six airbags, we are now down to just four. What remains however, are the other safety features that have always been available across the range. These include ABS, Auto Brake Hold, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, and Emergency Stop Signal, which alerts other drivers of an emergency stop situation via quick-blinking brake lights and hazard lights. Also remember that the HR-V scored an impressive five-star rating during ASEAN-NCAP safety tests. The rear multiview camera is retained, which can be adjusted to provide three varying angles through the 7-inch touchscreen.

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Frankly, the 'RS' badge looks good on any Honda. PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

What we've got here is Honda's salvo into the highly competitive crossover segment. Strewn with offerings that can be had below P1 million, to models that cost as high as P1.5 million, the segment is a relatively new opportunity for manufacturers to keep themselves profitable. Honda's hoping to attract more sophisticated buyers with the HR-V RS, what with its more premium look, feel, and features.

The refreshed HR-V RS Navi carries a price tag of P1,495,000, while the base 1.8 E goes for P1,295,000. Mechanically it’s all the same, and the visual and entertainment upgrades are there to give the current HR-V a longer lease on life. Will it be enough to keep sales of the HR-V growing? Only time and the market will tell. In the meantime, stay tuned for a more hands-on review.

Are the changes too subtle for you? PHOTO: Ian Magbanua

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