Honda thinks that the Variable Gear Ratio Steering System (VGR) that they have machined into the HR-V RS will vastly improve its handling. And perhaps save it from the depths of meh-ness that the HR-V has inadvertently found itself in since the competitors’ offerings are far superior in that aspect.
The Variable Gear Ratio Steering System, or VGR for short, works to adapt the amount of work needed to take the car around the corner. Speed will determine if the steering wheel should feel lighter or heavier. It alters the steering angle, or how many turns of the wheel you need to do to go around the corner. Or to put it differently, you will want your vehicle to turn easier in tight spaces and difficult on the highway.
The tech itself is nothing new, and the HR-V RS won’t wake up the next morning with superpowers as if bitten by a radioactive Civic Type-R. Yet, the VGR remarkably does improve the RS’ handing compared to the standard HR-Vs.
It all amounts to being less busy behind the wheel, something you’ll appreciate when you don’t need to turn the steering too many times just to get into a parking spot. On winding roads, the quick steering also requires less effort to take the SUV through a series of tight curves. It will make the SUV’s handling feel more natural, with a touch of predictability that you’ll be able to make the turn without needing to feed more steering.
At speed, the steering wheel firms up and makes it a touch harder to turn the vehicle — not that you want to make a 90-degree turn on a highway. Having firmer steering means that the car won’t veer off lane if you hit a deep hole on the tarmac. This keeps the HR-V RS stable on the road and confident at highway speeds.
Honorary mention also goes to the tyres, which grew from a standard’s 215/55R17 to a meatier 225/50R18. Although the larger tyre fills up the wheel well nicely, it’s not just for looks. The wider patch adds to the grip and stability of the SUV and improves handling at the same time.
Despite the fast-sounding ‘RS’ badge, which sadly does not stand for ‘Race Spec’, this HR-V still runs with the 1.8-litre i-VTEC that produces 140hp and 172Nm. The engine is paired with a CVT, so you can imagine the linear acceleration when the go-pedal hits the floor.
A more performance-oriented model exists in the form of the HR-V Hybrid, which offers a total output of 150hp and 190Nm. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox also puts power down as smooth and quick. The hybrid’s handling ability is nearly on par with the RS, which could make both fighting for top spot in the HR-V line-up. Too bad the Hybrid doesn’t have the same striking visuals as the RS.
If looking good is a purchase factor, then the RS is the beauty of the bunch. The front grille, lower bumpers on both ends and wing mirrors have been treated differently than the other HR-Vs, albeit sharing most with the V-spec version.
The interior, too, sports different bits and pieces to set the RS apart from the other versions, albeit most sharing with the V-spec SUV. If you want to stand out, then select the newly-introduced dark brown leather.
It must be mentioned that the HR-V RS is fitted with the Honda LaneWatch Camera. This camera, which automatically activates when you flick the indicator left or via a button on the right stalk, will display everything that’s happening on the left side of the vehicle. It completely eliminates blindspot, making switching lanes safer.
There’s little else to complain about the HR-V; not counting the aftermarket-like media interface that seems very out of place. The HR-V remains a well-packaged compact SUV, and its functional interior space always scores top marks across all versions. With the VGR comes improved handling and stability, the HR-V RS the best HR-V to get.
Specification: Honda HR-V 1.8L RS
Engine 1,799cc, SOHC, 16-valve, 4 cylinder, i-VTEC | Transmission CVT, front-wheel drive | Power & Torque 140hp @ 6,500rpm / 172Nm @ 4,300rpm | Price RM118,581.91 | Score 7/10