Auto Review: 2024 Honda ZR-V EX is made for Gen Z

It slots in nicely between the tiny HR-V and popular CR-V

By George Kuruvilla

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Published: Mon 10 Jun 2024, 3:55 PM

Last updated: Tue 11 Jun 2024, 1:58 AM

The ZR-V, the first of its kind, is a crossover designed with Generation Z in mind.

Just as the automotive market is reaching a point of absurdity, with once-affordable cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) by trusted brands being priced out of the budgets of regular folk, comes a vehicle like a ray of hope. This, my friends, is the 2024 Honda ZR-V. Like most Honda vehicles, the ‘ZR-V’ term is an acronym too, which in this case stands for "Z Runabout Vehicle", referencing the Generation Z it is designed for. Dropped off for review purposes on home turf was the top EX variant, which otherwise would cost another a relatively affordable Dh129,900 to get into the garage.


For those leading a city life, who aren’t looking for giant ego-enhancing SUVs or an offroad machine, the ZR-V maybe it. It is an urbane city crossover that’s in the Goldilocks zone at about 4.5 metres long, slotting in nicely between the tiny HR-V and popular CR-V. It’s got a fine face and a swoopy silhouette that will satisfy most people’s visual desires. It’s got sleek LED headlamps with dynamic indicators between the protruding nose, much like the 8th gen Civic it shares the platform with. The LED tail lights are reminiscent of BMW units. Adding a dash of sportiness are the black grille, black window surrounds, trapezoidal exhaust tips and dual-tone 18-inch wheels.

The sidestep

For a crossover as low as a sedan, it feels funny having a sidestep though. You almost climb up just to fall into the cabin. But what’s not funny, is the functional interior, which is based off the current crop of Honda vehicles, one that is populated with black surfaces and has that characteristic hexagonal mesh grille that goes across the dash. And you know it’s a quality product when the plastics are good too.


The standout feature is the sporty seats that are wrapped in a shimmery dark leather that has an alluring purple tint with contrast orange stitching that would certainly pique anyone’s interest in a good way. It’s not just the seats, a good part of the dashboard, door panels, and centre console get this padded surface as well. It certainly ups the luxury game, but in a subtle manner. And for a compact vehicle, it is rather comfortable upfront with 8- and 4-way power adjustable seats for the driver and passenger, while the rear can easily accommodate two 6-plus footers but three is a squeeze. The leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering can be adjusted for rake and reach, which makes it easy to settle into the driver’s seat, but the shift lever is a bit notchy.

Storage conditions

In terms of stowage, there is an average size glove box, 4 cupholders, space for large bottles in the door bins and a sizeable central cubby that can fit up to 6 small bottles. Adding to these basics is a gem from the accessory’s catalogues, a coat hanger behind the driver’s seat, which also includes a phone holder and wireless charger.

Tech wise, the ZR-V is kept abreast with Gen Z technology with a customizable 10.2-inch digital instrumentation and a 9-inch infotainment screen with a utility-based aesthetic. Under the lower console is storage space for wallet or small bag with USB-C ports for connectivity and charging. Strangely, there is no navigation. But with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto available you really don’t need proprietary car nav’. The 12-speaker Bose sound system was also found to be a good unit to lend your ears to.

Further down the cabin is a decent-sized boot with 380 litres and with the 60:40 rear folding seats down you can fit a single bed mattress. It’s also got hooks for grocery backs and an undertray where space-saver spare resides. Additionally, the tailgate can also be opened with the swipe of the foot.

Precise steering

Pushing the red starter gets the crankshaft of the turbocharged 1.5L i-VTEC 4-cylinder motor rotating. On my daily runabouts it seems unremarkable but my inherent urge to hurry places gave me a real feel for how its drives. The faster you drive, the powertrain matches your energy with quick simulated CVT shifts and zippy acceleration. The tailpipes’ raspy tune also adds to the enthusiasm. Then there is the steering which is rather precise, more so than a Ford Mustang, and the well-sorted suspension which keeps body roll in check. Even the metal paddle shifters respond surprisingly well to inputs and the disc brakes (ventilated upfront) are effective in a way you’re not in constant fear of fender benders. Overall, it feels fun-to-drive without scaring you out of your wits.

But being a commuter, my eyes were also always on the economy meter, which was averaging between 9 to 11 km/l which is acceptable, but far off the claimed 16.5 km/l mark. A lighter right foot would certainly stretch the range of the 57-litre tank further.

On the safety front, it comes stacked. The 360-view is very crisp, and the side view mirrors slant down while reversing making manoeuvrers in parking lots manageable. It’s got hill decent control, hill start assist, rear occupant reminder and Honda Sensing features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and lane keep assist.

My one gripe is the dual-zone air conditioning system. I love the knurled knobs with embedded LCD screens and rear vents, but it could be stronger. My advice…park in the shade. At this price, a remote starter could help solve the issue.

Even as a product for Gen Z, don’t expect the 2024 Honda ZR-V to use vegan materials, outside or inside, but it does have gender-neutral appeal in the sense that both guys and girls won’t mind being seen in it. It also has a compact yet utilitarian cabin which makes it a logical choice for everyday driving…with the added benefit of being fun to drive, which may satiate the experiential bit that the Gen Z crave for. If you don’t care about leather seats, Bose system and 360-degree camera, the base LX is all that’s needed. Either trim, the ZR-V represents value for money.

GOOD: Chic, recognisable design; build quality; features; fun to drive; reliability and residual value

BAD: Average A/C cooling; no vehicle navigation; no AWD option

EDITOR’S RATING: 7.5/10 stars

SPECIFICATIONS

Body type: 5-seater; 5-door compact crossover SUV

Engine: Front-engine; turbocharged 1.5-litre inline 4-cylinder; front-wheel drive

Transmission: CVT

Peak output: 180 bhp @ 6,000 rpm

- 240 Nm @ 1,700 – 4,500 rpm

0 to 100km/h: sub-9 seconds (estimated)

Top speed: 200 km/h (drag limited; estimated)

Price:Starting at Dh119,900 (LX); Dh129,900 (EX, as tested)

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