Honda’s latest SUV arrival, the ZR-V, slots neatly between the HR-V and CR-V and is a stylish and much less aggressively drawn SUV. The softer look goes against the styling of many SUVs and with that reduced bulk is a more compact interior, despite not feeling in any way cramped. As ever with Honda the build quality is superb, and a particularly neat addition is the honeycomb air vent that straddles the fascia. It’s also a sensible and welcome change to see a new car with actual buttons, the climate control can be operated without the need for multiple presses of a touchscreen.
There are three levels of trim and all have the same power system, a 2.0-litre petrol unit with hybrid assistance using two electric motors and a battery pack that makes for a seamless transition between electric and petrol power. The set-up develops a healthy 181 bhp with the benchmark 62 mph arriving in 7.8 seconds and a maximum speed of 107 mph.
The single speed automatic transmission is a smooth affair but accelerate firmly and things become a little vocal, opt for a more relaxed drive and things are almost whisper quiet. This isn’t down to Honda it’s just a characteristic of this kind of CVT transmission, and that apart it’s a clever and efficient arrangement.
All models are well equipped with front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, navigation, keyless entry and start, heated front seats, adaptive cruise, auto wipers and lights, powered, heated and reverse tilt door mirrors plus Apple Car Play and Android Auto. It’s an enviable list but even with a range starting price of £39,495 the Honda offers a better standard specification than many competitors at its price.
On the road the ZR-V is a relaxing and effortless drive providing you keep your heavy acceleration under control. It handles twisting routes with more than a degree of aplomb and has decently responsive steering too. From an economy perspective the ZR-V returns late forties mpg and although there’s no all-wheel-drive capability, few SUVs have that nowadays, the Honda has a ‘snow-drive’ button that provides a useful aid to traction in mildly difficult conditions.
Premium badges are all well and good but look beyond the badge and the quality, usability and style of Honda’s latest models are all too often overlooked. Although they may not build adrenaline fuelled cars – Civic Type R excepted – the ZR-V is a Honda well worth driving.
Words by Mark Slack