I used to think that Chiangmai is a boring, laid-back and slow town.
I get excited instead with pulsating Bangkok; flashy lights, sea of humans and the spark of energy in the air.
Chiangmai in comparison is sedate.
But I won’t say it is boring anymore. Not the least.
Just a month back I was here for a Chiangmai- Pai – Bangkok trip with the Thailand tourism folks. I must been getting old; for the tranquility, placid and scenic leg of the trip turned out more appealing than shopping in Platinum Mall.
Last week I landed in Chiangmai airport again.
This time I managed to explore more of Chiangmai itself. We visited the market, ate macarons and scones in some of the pretty cafes by the Ping River and took a drive up to Chiangrai.
The beautiful countryside of Northern Thailand is best explored via self-driving or on a bike.
Happily enough for us, the new Honda HRV was our mode of transportation, enabling us to travel in both style and comfort.
But hey, I may have mellowed down (heck, how could I possibly prefer the countryside versus the city?) but I still love my ride being spirited.
I was behind the wheel of the Honda HRV (top spec, Thailand model) for the first leg of the drive to Chiangrai and gosh, I surprised myself for actually enjoying being behind the wheel, versus being driven.
The elevated seating position is just slightly higher than a sedan, and definitely lower than the EcoSport (sorry, only comparison I can make since the EcoSport is the only other compact SUV I test drove recently) and it just felt just right/comfortable.
While others love the SUV for the higher seating position, for some weird reasons I actually don’t.
Maybe only shorties like me finds it a hassle to get in and out of the car.
Our drive was a leisurely one, simultaneously relaxing and educational, giving us a pleasant teaser of the capabilities of the Honda HRV.
So, after some kilometres, a dozen cups of hot chocolate, strawberries and many bowls of tom yam later, here’s what I like/dislike about the HRV:
1. It was easy to get in and out of the vehicle; as in it is not too tall (low ground clearance) for a SUV (compact version).
Itsy-bitsy shorts? Pencil skirts? Super tight jeans? Not a problem.
2. That said, it also means easier access for your items into the boot.
If you travel as often as I do with a 28″ 0r 32″ luggage, you will appreciate not having to lug a 30 kg (that’s my usual luggage weight when I get back from a trip) into the boot and out of the boot.
A manly boyfriend comes in handy at this point, of course.
Likewise for the active lot of us; it is much easier to load your bikes, golf gears, tables, any equipments, etc.
For me, I foresee it being very useful for small business owners who require a reliable ride with the flexibility of a mini-van to ferry their goods around.
PS: Human goods possible too.
3. Buying a SUV/compact SUV is all about having that extra space, so does the HRV does allows a decent capacity?
Many were concerned about the space within the Honda HRV when I posted about test driving it on my FB/Insta.
So to answer the burning query, here’s the 3 easy configuration modes for the seats.
Depending on your item, it should be able to transport just about anything a SUV could – pots, surf boards, mountain bikes, furniture, pets & cages and band equipments.
Utility mode : back seat down
Long mode: front passenger seat and all back seat down
Tall mode: back seat up
The best part?
It takes only seconds to shift the seats into these modes via a pull of a lever conveniently located at the top back of the seat.
If I can manage it, anyone can.
4. The doors aren’t heavy. I know it sounds weird since I workout and all but heck, I’d like to be able to shift my ample behind out from the car without having to grunt and strain some arm muscles.
Heavier doors means better safety? Educate me on that one please.
Talking about doors, aesthetic-wise I like that the door handle at the rear is quite “hidden” and gave the appearance of not having any handles on the doors itself.
5. Overall appearance?
Hmm… I’m a sucker for cute, round cars.
The HRV scored high points from me for performance and comfort, but its kind-of boxy (to me at least) shape didn’t have me going gaga over it.
If you want to have an idea of the shape of cars I like, think the Beetle and the Honda Jazz.
Yes, I’m all for the looks.
That said, I have no problems with the nice, roundish back.
6. The easy push the HRV has in getting into movement from its inert state.
A light pressure on the accelerator does the work.
I may like my holidays slow, but heck, I still live a fast-paced life and I like my ride (if it is the HRV) to be as agile and responsive as I am.
7. Talking about speed, the HRV is a smooth machine.
Here, let me define my annotation of “smooth” when I refer to a vehicle –
(1) CVT transmission that does away with gears so you’ll not feel any sudden drag compared to conventional gearboxes (ok, I don’t even understand what this sentence means, but it sounds intelligent so I’m leaving it published) – what I meant to say is, I didn’t felt any sluggishness from the HRV when picking up speed or after slowing down while driving.
Definitely made for city driving!
More bearable now surely.
*By the way, it’s me in the car – can see or not??
(2) Braking feels very well modulated (no jerkiness) and responsive. A light press was enough to get the brakes into action and it slows down nice and gently.
A hard press would give a bit of a lurch obviously.
**I have always questioned my driving skills since I have this problem of jerky-braking with most cars I test-drove (my own car doesn’t count) but with the HRV the slowing down/stopping action when the brakes are applied didn’t jolt as much.
PS: Loving the Auto Brake Hold function.
This very useful feature ensures that your car remained stationery til a light tap on the accelerator is applied to release the brakes.
Yes, it also means you can take your foot off your brakes.
And if you noticed in the image above, there’s a “P” button on top of the Brake Hold. This is parking button as the HRV doesn’t have a handbrake.
Just pull up once you’ve parked, and tap down to release parking position.
On whether it is engaged or not, check for the “P” light in front of the driver seat, on the left of the speed meter.
(3) Power delivery is nice for the 1.8litre engine. It didn’t feel underpowered or lethargic when pressing the gas pedal at parts of the highway when I pick up the speed
(4) Wheel control: Cornering and swerving is a breeze. I always had this fear of driving myself into a ditch (I did once with a VIOS & turned turtle) or the possibility of losing control while on highway corners.
So I tend to go really slow now.
With the HRV, after the few initial bends of the Chiangmai-Chiangrai highway, I relaxed enough to let the momentum of the vehicle take the corners while maintaining the speed.
The wheel is neither too heavy or light and a gentle applied pressure to the wheel is enough to manuveur the vehicle.
In conclusion, what I’m trying to say is, the HRV feels “stable” and even as a passenger I didn’t feel like I was tumbling over my seat during corners.
That said, I have to clarify that the bends we took were something like the picture below, nothing too dramatic.
8. Econ Mode
Fuel saving is top priority these days.
Honda’s famous Econ Mode optimizes the vehicle’s operation to maximize fuel efficiency.
I first got acquainted with it during the Honda Insight hybrid drive and Honda has since expanded availability to other Honda models including the Civic, CR-V, and Accord.
Basically it works as moderator overseeing the operation of the transmission, engine, and other powertrain components to help conserve additional fuel.
When in doubt, just press it ON.
Cos really, the car system does the work for you. Of course you should observe some fuel-saving driving habits as well – ie no aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) .
And yes, Eco Assist and the Ambient Meter is present too for you to monitor your drive.
9. Interior/Cabin features/comfort:
It has all the comforts to make driving a pleasant experience.
Fabric and leather comes for the higher spec (V variant), while only fabric are for the S and E variant.
Plenty of nooks to stuff your stuff (for girls especially). I didn’t count the number of cupholders but I assume there are a few around.
What caught my attention was this “console pocket with HDMI and USB port”.
It is like a 2 tier compartment, with the underside able to keep your Smart Tag and maybe a phone (whatever items you wish to store but also keep partially hidden from view).
This is also where you can find the HDMI as well as USB ports are.
A few people asked me about the “bumpiness” and while I did felt it was slightly on some parts of the ride, I can’t be sure to blame it on the vehicle or the conditions of the road.
But it didn’t disrupt the overall experience drive we had, so that is a good thing.
The steering wheel comes with all the customary controls to access the multi function display, audio, etc. The 7″ audio system has HDMI port mirroring capabilities so you can sync your smartphone to it.
I bet this would come in very useful for Waze.
10. Hill Start Assist
Simply put, being on a hilly terrain is no more a worry.
This nifty function (the computer system) senses the incline and holds pressure on the brake pads briefly to stop the car from rolling as you accelerate from stationary to movement.
Coming from a manual driver, it’s God Sent.
We were chatting too loud to pay much attention to cabin noise (us being the noise) but yea, I didn’t notice much interference from outside.
Honda’s ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) is present of course.
More on that can be found in my recent Honda Civic drive article (HERE).
Dual front airbags are for the S & E variant (lower spec) and side and side curtain airbags for the V Variant (highest spec).
Rear Seat ISO Fix.
This being a compact SUV, there’s a spare tire which I was told is kept underneath the boot.
Thank you Honda Malaysia for the experience and for the privilege of being part of the teaser drive with the much anticipated Honda HRV (Hi-Rider Revolutionary Vehicle)!
Congrats on the launch of the HRV TODAY!
Some simple diagrams to illustrate part of the many useful features of the HRV: