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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

By most measures, the 1.6 i-DTEC is a fine small diesel engine. Honda prides itself on such things, and it shows. Responsiveness is never less than good and there’s no low-rev idleness or ugly intrusion from the turbocharger. The four-cylinder unit revs if not quickly then certainly cleanly and labours understandably only when getting close to its 5000rpm limit. 

Its output is laudable, too. Its 118bhp and 221lb ft of torque are superior to the numbers produced by the 1.5-litre diesel engine found aboard the Mazda CX-3 we tested recently. Nevertheless, the acceleration figures we recorded are almost identical; the HR-V posted 10.5sec to 60mph versus the CX-3’s 10.3sec, with only 0.1sec separating them from 30-70mph. The reason, predictably, is the larger Honda’s disadvantage on the scales, weighing a good 100kg more than its rival. 

Our 1.6-litre i-DTEC completed the standing quarter mile in 17.9sec at 78.1mph

In spite of that, the DTEC motor rarely seems overawed by the task. It’s a voluble companion, contributing to a level of noise well beyond the amount we measured in the Nissan Qashqai, but it was more than a second to the good when comparing each model’s 30-70mph times in fourth gear. Despite the chatter, the HR-V settles contentedly enough on motorways and is flexible enough in its top gear not to require wearisome gearchanges. 

Shifting, it must be said, is a divisive affair. Some testers considered the HR-V’s stubby lever and notchy selection to be at odds with the car’s even-tempered character. Others found the short throw and mechanical feel an endearing inclusion. Either way, Honda’s efforts to refine the gearchanges have yielded a slightly smoother unit, especially when it comes to engaging a previously grumbly reverse.

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There’s currently no option to have the CVT with the DTEC engine, and even among testers not overly enamoured with the manual, none confessed to preferring the idea. In the diesel engine’s favour, no one pined for the petrol engine, either.