The brand-new Honda HR-V is one of the most attention-grabbing vehicles I’ve reviewed in a long time. It garners a lot of looks from a lot of different people, I had a lot of people walk over to ask what it is and to have a look inside and ended up fielding a ton of questions. I found this quite interesting as the outside shape, while perhaps a slight departure for Honda, isn’t really groundbreaking on any level.

You’ll notice the HR-V’s styling at the same time as its tidy size, which makes it nice to dart around town in and allows it to fit nicely into any parking space you can find. Honda claims that they’ve combined the styling of a coupe (I’ll wait a minute for the giggling to settle) with the versatility of an SUV. The roofline is a bit bold, to be sure, as is the heavily sculpted side – and yes, it does have a slight aggressive edge from a couple of angles. And the window trim that comes to a point at the back, culminating in a hidden rear door handle can’t be missed. The whole package sits on some nice 17-inch rims and as a whole, I think the styling works well – it’s sporty and it throws in a hint of fun while remaining Honda-ish, which is to say it’s still quite conservative.

One odd thing – a strange-looking set of protective bars underneath the vehicle, plainly visible on the driver’s side, appear to be tacked-on and almost look as though something is hanging off the vehicle. It disrupts a set of otherwise clean and tidy lines.

The HR-V has a surprisingly open and spacious cabin – I’m 5’10” and had plenty of headroom. I also had a gentleman well over 6′ get in the driver’s seat and try it out, and he had room to spare, too. The dash feels simple, flush and clean, its centre stack angled slightly towards the driver. The majority of the materials are nicely textured hard plastics, although the dash face is an upholstered panel. I quite like the interior styling and it did not feel cheap or entry-level to me. All trim levels get heated seats, and the LX’s fabric thrones are comfortable and well-bolstered, but they got pretty toasty on hot summer days.

The basic instrument bin gives you everything you need, including a driver information centre. It was a bit of a reach for me to get to the touchscreen – which looks after your audio, phone, vehicle settings and the multi-angle back-up camera – and I found the lack of hard buttons irritating. You won’t find any, other than for system power and CD eject. Personally I prefer a knob for volume control at very least. The automatic climate control system below is also completely touch-based. The upside is that everything comes together looking very slick and clean.

More on First Drive: 2016 Honda HR-V
The centre console is quite slim, but Honda has done a few neat things to make it work in terms of storage solutions. Behind the CVT’s gear selector is a deep well that has some flexible, adjustable  dividers in it and underneath the console is an excellent rubberized bin as well as a full suite of connections for media input and charging – it’s handy and out of the way.

The HR-V has three seats in the back, each with a seatbelt and headrest. The middle seat is very hard and narrow, making it an unpleasant place to sit – even my kids didn’t want to plant their spoiled butts there. But the surprise comes when you sit in one of the two main rear seats. Not only are they reasonably comfortable (and recline for good measure), you’ll find ample head and leg room.

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