Honda Stream 2.0 SE Sport | CARkeys

13 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Honda Stream 2.0 SE Sport | CARkeys
Honda Stream

Honda Stream

2.0 SE Sport review

Details correct at publication date

I don’t find it at all elegant in its exterior lines, certainly not from the B-pillar rearwards . there’s little sign that the design team went to town on the interior styling, and I’d like it to be called nearly anything else. But the Stream was one of those cars they almost had to send the SAS to persuade me to hand on.

Honda does top-class engineering, its quality control is beyond reproach, and when it starts getting ingenious, as with the Stream, the sky’s the limit. As well as that, this is one of the most dynamically superior cars in the mini-MPV, Sports Activity Vehicle or whatever you want to call it class. So you can understand why the test car probably still bears the marks of my fingernails as I made a last desperate attempt to claw it back.

The slightly elevated driving position is just right, although I would like a reach adjustment of the steering wheel as well as the one for height. One nul points feature is a too-shallow shelf ahead of the front passenger. Anything placed in it, if not stuck down with chewing gum, eventually falls onto the floor.

There’s a left-foot rest, which I always appreciate, and the more I try these fascia-centre manual gear-changes the more I think the action is just fine. While the one in the Stream feels a little clumsy around town at first, for fast changes at higher speeds it’s very slick. The positioning does, of course allow for a walk-through gap to the second row of seats – if you don’t get the handbrake up your trouser leg, fellows.

The Stream has a two-three-two seating set-up, and this is where the car starts to get highly ingenious. It may take a little while to figure it all out, but the rearmost seat can be folded down to provide an almost dead-flat extended load floor, at the expense of some middle-row legroom – and there’s a full-size security cover ready to slot into place.

Honda uses pull-up nylon hooks as well as ordinary catches to allow for the seat re-arrangements, and that seems quite a good idea too.

The middle and third-row seats both slide, and the centre armrest in row two drops down to provide a picnic tray. There are stowage nooks and crannies all over the place, including a pull-out drawer under the front passenger seat.

That rear-end design, where the elliptical finish to the third-row side windows can’t entirely disguise the minibus-like body line, may not look great, but it means there’s full adult headroom for anybody who draws the right-at-the-back seating position.

So the Stream is all very practical inside, if not whoopee-styled. What’s it like out on the road? It’s so good you can’t help smiling.

Honda Stream

We’ve described the new two-litre i-VTEC engine previously. Its variable valve timing and variable length inlet manifold really do, as Honda claims, give the Stream an impressive combination of low-speed flexibility and mid- to top-end power. The real-life performance is remarkably good for a two-litre hauling quite a heavy vehicle around, and it does provide many of those satisfying moments when somebody tries to blast past what looks like a lumbering MPV on a dual-carriageway hill, and runs out of puff in the process.

But it’s not just in a straight line that the Stream is an invigorating performer. It handles remarkably well, with the unavoidable body lean from a car of this build kept to a minimum. And it will sweep sportingly through S-bends as well as take full-throttle treatment on single corners.

One thing that’s particularly noticeable is that it doesn’t lose its poise on tightening bends, where many cars in its class begin to get nervous.

That composure applies to the ride quality as well. We have an A-class road on one of our regular test routes with humps and bumps like you wouldn’t believe except in up-state Tadjikistan. Most test cars hate it, and some of our regular passengers aren’t too ecstatic about being thrown around there either.

With its long wheelbase and fairly high centre of gravity, you’d expect the Stream to be all over the place on a road like that. Nothing of the kind. It took the humps, at what we know from long experience to be the maximum possible speed before take-off, as if it were stuck to the road with some kind of mobile Velcro.

Honda’s suspension engineers must have really worked overtime on this one. The claim in the brochure that chassis dynamics ensure Stream is fun to drive may be in telegraphese, but it’s no exaggeration.

Second opinion . You may remember from our launch report of this car that Honda described it as a seven-seater GTi, a statement we were at pains to shoot down. On a test track the Stream felt nothing like a GTi at all, but in the real world it became clear that this is by some margin the most agile mini-MPV on the market.

It behaves better than many more overtly sporting cars, yet it does indeed carry seven people (of whom the rearmost two should preferably be under six feet tall) in quite reasonable comfort. Not far off the best people-carrier in its class, and certainly the best compromise between handling and load-carrying I can remember coming across. David Finlay .

Honda Stream
Honda Stream
Honda Stream
Honda Stream
Honda Stream
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