Honda are re-entering the compact SUV market with the second generation HR-V, released across Europe this summer. The man responsible for project leading the development of the vehicle sits down and talks about the company’s new baby. Masaki Kobayashi gives a insight into the vision behind the forthcoming HR-V.‘We didn’t want to just create a downsized SUV,’ he explains. ‘Honda already has the CR-V, which combines the virtues of an SUV and a lighter, more nimble conventional car, so the HR-V needed to offer something different. The development team set a goal to create a new value or theme from the very start of the project.’
The HR-V is like a mule, its a coupe trying to be an SUV as Kobayashi explains. ‘Combining high eye-point and toughness – core values of SUV – with a new level of emotion was the key,’ Kobayashi says. ‘So we came up with an exterior concept encapsulated by “Emotionality and Toughness” and an interior concept called “Personal Cockpit and Expansiveness”. We wanted to fuse apparently conflicting values to create something fresh.’
Kobayashi and his team targeted ‘active people who enjoy both their work and home life. These people have a high sense of the balance between fashion and practicality.’ Achieving that balance in the HR-V was a challenge. ‘It was very difficult to create the desired interior space, ease of use and sheer capaciousness hand-in-hand with dynamic and emotional design,’ Kobayashi begins. ‘However, the process is relatively simple: Package designers take charge of determining the space and layout of the vehicle and set hard points. From there the exterior and interior designers take over to bring the concept to life within those hard points.’
Once the conceptual phase is complete the job of modeling the HR-V begins. ‘We spent the longest time on this process,’ says Kobayashi. ‘Designing, modeling and then repeating the verification using full-scale models to get a real sense of how the HR-V would look out on the road. This is where the design starts to come to life and we can experiment with shapes and forms that still let the interior space breathe but also create a tension and fluidity in the design.’
The cohesiveness of the HR-V design is a testament to that intense and highly-detailed process and something of which Kobayashi is proud. ‘Fusion of a cabin shape with good aerodynamics and a strong lower body became the basis of HR-V’s dynamic form,’ he begins, ‘and what’s satisfying is that we were able to create a product with no compromise in terms of size, function and design.’ That means an interior packed with functionality but also a sense of personal space and fun.
Of the exterior design Kobayashi says ‘we are very pleased with its dynamic shape, the high quality of the surfaces and the intricate but seamless detailing,’ says Kobayashi. ‘I can say that when the whole team first saw the prototype vehicle together, we felt proud and special that we were able to realise our targets with this new car. I believe that the HR-V possesses the elegance to look attractive in any scene and yet a sense of toughness at the same time. And my determination to make it look like a real ‘driver’s car’ was achieved.’