Honda HR-V 2022 vs 2021 – new RV compared to old RU generation, side-by-side gallery of both SUVs

The next-generation 2022 Honda HR-V is now open for booking in Malaysia. About time, because the outgoing HR-V has been around since 2015 – seven years is a long time in today’s car world, more so for the fast-moving SUV segment.

The new car – which we’ve detailed in a first impressions review – has big shoes to fill as the outgoing second-generation HR-V (the name was first used by a boxy two-door oddball from the early 2000s) was a huge success for Honda in Malaysia, with over 111,000 units sold since 2015.

The RU generation HR-V wasn’t the first B-segment SUV to reach Malaysia, but it was by far the biggest hit, stealing buyers from class-above models such as the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5. The power of the Honda brand, unique coupe-inspired design in and out, and clever maximisation of a compact footprint meant that it was a crowd pleaser – it’s not uncommon to see shopping mall parking lots and suburban taman porches filled with rows of HR-Vs.

Honda HR-V 2022 vs 2021 – new RV compared to old RU generation, side-by-side gallery of both SUVs

Of late, the SUV segment has further expanded to include national entries from Perodua and Proton, the latter with its China-sourced X50 and X70 models. They’ve been popular, and Toyota – for long a laggard in the SUV segment – is now gaining momentum with the Corolla Cross, which is set to achieve what the C-HR failed to do a couple of years back. It’s a crowded arena now, and Honda needs something special to reclaim the HR-V’s dominance.

How about a clean sheet design that shares nothing with its predecessor except for the name and signature hidden rear door handles? The latest RV generation discards the curves and organic shape of old for straight lines and a well-defined outline.

The new SUV stands tall and strong thanks to a shoulder line that’s high and straight – it doesn’t rise from front to back like the X50 and so many others. The hood doesn’t dive down early like before, and the result is a tall and bluff nose. The most prominent design choice is the rake of the rear screen, which defines the new HR-V’s shape. Side-by-side, you can see the how much sharper the angle is.

Honda HR-V 2022 vs 2021 – new RV compared to old RU generation, side-by-side gallery of both SUVs

Personally, I’m digging this new clean look, which is a big contrast from the highly-stylised X50 and the soft curves employed by Mazda and Honda itself with the current CR-V, which all look like they have a giant soft dent in the profile.

It’s restrained but not boring, because the overall look is lifted by eye-catching details. Up front is a large grille that’s bolder than any Honda nose I remember, and below it is a red accent line that has a “heartbeat” blip on one side. But the biggest piece of jewellery here is the full-width rear LED strip, which gives the HR-V more than a hint of Porsche Macan from far.

The LED bar is broken up by the Honda logo in the middle. Like the Toyota Harrier, but the HR-V’s signature appears thicker and brighter. The actual tail lamps are pretty novel too – little light ‘chips’ are laid out in a row, not unlike a less layered version of BMW’s OLEDs found in the previous-generation M4. Both these cars wear RS styling, which includes gloss black paint for the lower body sections and wheel arches.

Before looking at the dimensions, I was confident that the new HR-V is a bigger car. Turns out that at 4,385 mm long, today’s RV is just 39 mm longer than the outgoing facelifted RS it’s replacing, while the 1,790 mm width and 2,610 mm wheelbase are unchanged. Perhaps it’s the higher ground clearance – 196 mm, 26 mm higher – that fooled me.

I was a big fan of the previous HR-V’s interior and this Thai-spec RS with its lovely wine red-black cabin reminded me why. Cockpit-like with that tall centre console and minimalist in layout, it’s sporty and feels rather special, tying in nicely with the coupe inspiration of the exterior.

The new car’s dashboard is pleasant and practical, but it loses some flair, and the layout isn’t as driver-focused as before. The RV gets a horizontal vent strip here, but unlike in the Civic FE, there’s no grille or attempt to camouflage the vents.

Speaking of vents, the new HR-V gets a Honda-first air diffusion system that you’ll find on the side vents. Basically, if you don’t want cold air blasted direct to you, but still want some ventilation, turn the knob and air will flow out from the slim inverted-L strips at the edge. However, the diffusion only works on the side vents.

Equipment wise, the new HR-V introduces current features to the series, including drive modes, a part-digital instrument panel (speedo is analogue), wireless charging and the Honda Sensing suite of driver assist features. Proton reserving ADAS for only the most expensive X50 and X70 MC variants is an opportunity for Honda Malaysia – Sensing across the board or even on all but the base model would be a big point earned. We’ll see.

I rode in the back seat of the new HR-V over a few sections of our Phuket-Krabi route and found it to be more comfortable than before. The improved ride comfort (RS rides on 18-inch wheels) and NVH played a part, but the well-shaped seats (great for two, can’t imagine how comfy can someone get in the raised middle section), air con vents (not available in the old car) and thoughtful storage ideas (phone pouch in seatback, arm-level cupholder) were nice as well.

The panoramic glass roof is great for sightseeing, and the natural light it allows in also helps brighten the all-black RS cabin. This two-piece roof, which has larger coverage than the previous-gen’s glass roof (Malaysia never had it), has a regular retracting shade in front and two pieces of clip-on shades at the back, just like in a targa top Toyota MR2 without the centre spine.

Unlike in the old sports car, the shades – which are hard and sturdy – are super easy to remove and affix with two clips. I love it. However, considering the Malaysian preference to be insulated from the elements (super dark tinting plus Groovy shades, are we vampires?), the glass roof probably won’t make it into the local spec sheet.

It’s all change under the hood. Hybrid vs hybrid, the new HR-V uses the current i-MMD (intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) system branded as e:HEV, and it replaces the previous HR-V Hybrid’s i-DCD system. Like in the City RS e:HEV, a 1.5L Atkinson cycle engine works together with an e-CVT, an integrated electric motor that also acts as a starter, and a larger second motor.

The DOHC i-VTEC engine makes 106 PS/127 Nm, and functions mainly as a generator for the e-motor, although it can provide direct drive to the wheels at high speeds as it’s more efficient in such situations. The e-motor produces 131 PS and 253 Nm of torque from 0 to 3,500 rpm. Honda Thailand quotes a total system output of 215 PS and claimed fuel consumption of 25.6 km/l.

Compared to our City RS e:HEV, the Thai-spec HR-V RS e:HEV’s ICE has an extra 8 PS and the e-motor has a 23 PS advantage. The HR-V is of course heavier – the top-spec Thai HR-V you see here tips the scales at 1,407 kg, which is 161 kg heavier than our City RS sedan.

The i-MMD system works like a range extender EV in normal town driving, where the car runs on electric whenever possible, and the ICE is a generator. But the engine can come into play when needed, and it can directly drive the wheels at high speeds, because the ICE is more efficient in such conditions. i-MMD is a huge upgrade over i-DCD when it comes to rolling in pure EV mode, being able to go much further and withstand significantly more pedal pressure before the engine cuts in.

Unlike Thailand, Malaysia will get non-hybrid petrol engines with the new HR-V, and the candidates are the 1.5L NA engine from the City (121 PS/145 Nm) and the 1.5L turbo engine found in the rest of Honda’s range (177 PS/240 Nm). Word is that we’ll get both to go along with the e:HEV. The 1.8L from the previous HR-V has been discontinued.

Honda Malaysia says that the HR-V will be launched in the third quarter of this year, which means that final pricing will include sales tax, unless the government gives yet another extension for SST exemption. For now, learn more about the new HR-V from our first drive report and our post announcing the opening of order books. What do you think of the new HR-V in terms of design and expected variants?

By the way, we were lucky to snap the HR-V alongside big brother CR-V and the Civic FC during a petrol station break. Check out the bonus shots for a mental reference on where the new model sits, size-wise.

GALLERY: 2022 Honda HR-V RS e:HEV, Thai spec

GALLERY: 2021 Honda HR-V RS i-VTEC, Thai spec