A Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V

Finding joy in odd places.

1998 Honda HR-V
1998 Honda HR-V

We have a thing for green cars here. While out on field work, we spotted this undisguised production version of the Honda HR-V in Warwick. At only 4 metres long, it is not big. It is, however, perfectly proportioned and showed another approach to the kind of thing Ford had in mind with the unloved but good Fusion.

Image: oldconceptcars

As a precursor the 1998 car, Honda showed a “concept” car, the J-WJ (“wild and joyful”). The main difference is in the headlamp treatment and the interior. Notice the change in the wheel arches. Not only did the production version have less flared arches but they reverted to standard round profiles rather than squared and the lost the flat edge.

1997 Honda J-WJ: source
1997 Honda J-WJ: source

The interior is pleasantly simple. Here is the production version.

1998 Honda HR-V interior: source
1998 Honda HR-V interior: source

While the production version still looks good, the concept does not seem so very far from feasible. Why did they bottle out? The central console is nicely defined and notice that the concept avoids a console running from the dash to the centre. One notices a strong horizontal theme which is lost from 1998’s car. On the production version the under-console cubby seems (in comparison) a little of an afterthought. It’s still a robust and clean design though.

The production car scored over Ford’s Fusion by offering 4WD which underwrote the chunky looks. However, Honda took the odd decision to offer only a 1.6 petrol engine. With larger range (say, 1.4, 1.6, 1..8 and a diesel) this car could have enjoyed even greater success.

Does the owner of the green car know that they are driving a notable piece of automotive design or do they just like the ride height and low maintenance costs?

I test drove an HR-V in 1999 and only remember that I went too fast along the motorway to Warwick (coincidentally).

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

3 thoughts on “A Photo for Sunday: 1998 Honda HR-V”

  1. The production version looks better than the Concept-car – i can´t say that very often.
    The sales numbers of the HR-V were quite decent, so i did not understand wHonda was not selling its successor, the Crossroad II, in Europe.

    1. Yes, Markus, they did show a better production car. Was the “concept” really a concept? One has to wonder. It’s a totally satisfying shape. One for the collection, surely.

  2. I’ve always liked the CR-V. If I had a criticism, it’s where the swage crease breaks up then curves downwards as it approaches the headlamps. On the concept it keeps its nerve all the way round to the bumpers, though that is made easier by its ridiculous ride height.

    I often look at concept dashes and wonder why they aren’t put into production. I don’t see much there that would have been a problem, though a dash mounted transmission lever would have cleared the floor entirely. Like many historic Honda interiors, the production versions is competent but so very dull, and so very grey. Had I considered buying one, the interior would probably have dissuaded me.

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