Frankly, neither the bar nor expectation is set particularly high here. The platform-donating Jazz is a respectable supermini, but no one could accuse it of being compelling to drive – a sentiment that could be just as easily levelled at the entire small crossover segment, given its failure to produce a stand-out driver’s car.
The HR-V, sadly, doesn’t alter that deficiency but, from an admittedly low standpoint, performs rather well. Ease of use is understandably Honda’s primary concern and, backed by the willing diesel motor, the car is not difficult to rub along with.
The steering is reasonably light and amenable but comes with quite a slow rack, similar to that of the Jazz. Manoeuvrability is fine, though, as is forward visibility. There’s a hint of underlying firmness to the ride and a fair bit of suspension noise, but you won’t be paying the road surface undue attention unless you hit a pothole or similar intrusion.
Certainly, the HR-V feels lighter and easier to manage than its bigger sibling, the CR-V, yet there is something quintessentially Honda about the experience, too – a rugged roundedness that wells up from the build quality and arguably makes its supermini underpinnings easier to forget than they are in, say, a 2008.
Still, there’s agility enough if you go looking for it. Despite having to sometimes labour at the wheel and its lacklustre rate of response, the HR-V offers plenty of grip and isn’t adverse to pressing on. Beyond-limit driving could hardly have been at the forefront of Honda’s thinking with this car but, as a testament to the engineers’ thoroughness, the HR-V is largely untroubled outside its comfort zone.