Some small vehicles struggle with stability at speed, but it’s the Honda HR-V’s defining characteristic as a tow car.
At a steady 60mph, the HR-V is as comfortable and composed as you could wish for. Even adding another 10mph to that speed, the caravan only moved around slightly when caught by crosswinds.
The HR-V kept its cool in our violent lane-change test, too. We kept increasing the speed of the test, and the Honda kept on going just where the driver pointed it. On the final and fastest run the caravan began to slide and the stability control light on the dashboard started to flicker, but we never felt the tourer was about to take charge.
The 1.6-litre engine majors on economy rather than performance, achieving 70.6mpg on the combined cycle in official tests (or 68.9mpg on cars with larger alloys). With 221lb ft of torque, though, there’s enough pulling powerful for respectable performance when towing, going from 30-60mph in 16.8 seconds with a caravan in tow. Gear ratios that have been chosen for fuel efficiency rather than snappy acceleration hold the Honda back a little, but so long as you’re in the right gear there’s enough poke to comfortably pull a lightweight caravan.
The electronic parking brake held the car and caravan still on a 1-in-6 slope, and released smoothly. Some clutch slip was needed to pull up the hill but nothing untoward.
When you’re not towing, the HR-V drives well, with tidy handling and well weighted and consistent steering.
It’s the practical cabin that really impresses in day-to-day driving, though, with lots of space and clever rear seats which fold upwards at the base, effectively creating two separate luggage areas if you don’t need to use the back seats. Even with people rather than luggage in the back, the HR-V had room for all but one item from our typical holiday load.
The range-topping EX spec is a little pricey, so we’re recommending the mechanically similar but much more affordable SE trim. It’s a very impressive tow car for little more than £22,000.
(Please note: the model pictured is EX spec.)