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Honda has changed everything about the CR-V. It's lighter, sharper and quicker...

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Let’s face it. James Bond wouldn’t be seen driving one of these. Because even in its new rejuvenated avatar, the CR-V isn’t half as cool as an Aston Martin. In the movies, you will never find a CR-V in the battlefield dodging bullets or being his partner in saving the world.

But then, who said the movies were about practicality? The movies leave that sort of stuff for real life. And a real life James Bond, sorry to disappoint you, wouldn’t mind Q having a go at the CR-V because it’s quick, quiet, reliable and not as flashy as an Aston, which makes it perfect for stealth work.

This is the fourth-generation CR-V. That’s supposed to stand for Compact Recreational Vehicle. The name suggests in no uncertain terms the primary intention of the vehicle – recreation. What they didn’t say was that the owners need to do that bit, the car won’t. It will merely get you to your playground, whatever the sport, complete with all the paraphernalia.

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Honda has been selling the CR-V in India for a decade now. We first got the second-gen model, which was no larger than a big hatch. It sold because we didn’t have much to choose from back then. Only with the third-gen model that came to India in 2006 did the CR-V really grow into something that could be called a conventional SUV size.

And we bought this one too, because it was supremely refined and reliable. In fact, Honda sold nearly 14,000 CR-Vs until August last year. Which is when it ran out of the third-gen imports. And there’s one major difference in this new CR-V. It’s made in India. Or, more accurately, it’s assembled here, which means it’ll be available at a price that will look less obscene than the previous-gen model. I suppose now you really want to know more.

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Anyway, there’s that five-speed automatic gearbox option to tick in case you don’t fancy the heavy action. As in last year’s car, this is a simple CVT transmission, whose whole focus is to keep the engine revs and gear changes in sync for a shamelessly seamless experience through the shifts. If you want a better sense of control, you can pull the stick all the way to S, which allows you to make changes manually via a paddle shift.

The ‘S’ or Sport mode in real-world terms does nothing beyond letting you take the revs higher before an upshift, which means you can have power coming in for a longer time. Very useful while overtaking. But if you want even more, just tap the paddle shifters and you’ll notice an ‘M’ in the gear indicator window. You’ll also notice the tacho needle hammering the redline while you keep that throttle pedal pressed all the way. Again, shifts are quick and effortless. Can’t fault it for sheer efficiency.

Neither can you fault the car’s dynamics. Unlike with most generation changes, the new CR-V is actually shorter in length and height. The height shouldn’t bother you, but what about the decreased length? The wheelbase is still the same and Honda claims the cabin is still as spacious, borrowing room from the engine bay. It’s not the roomiest of interiors, but there’s more than enough for four people and just enough for five adults.

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The sense of space is also accentuated by a really simple layout. The dashboard has a neat instrument cluster with an inbuilt gimmick – you can toggle between green and white light arcs to indicate the mood of your right foot. And if you want to show your righteous side, there’s a green Econ button on the dashboard – one dab at this controls the engine and air-con to result in better fuel efficiency. Obviously an anti-adrenaline piece of kit, but then what else would you expect?

Still, you can’t expect to get lost driving the CR-V now because the top-of-the-line variant will come with a factory-fitted GPS system powered by Navteq. Of course, this unit is more than a GPS – it is also Bluetooth-enabled, so finally you can make and receive calls hands-free in a Honda.

In that sense, the CR-V is reasonably feature-packed – there’s an aux USB port to connect to the music in your pen drive, there’s independent climate control, electrically foldable ORVMs and sunroof. Heck, there’s even 17-inch alloys as standard on all variants, which all feels like a lot coming from Honda. Of course, times are tough and competition can make you do things that one never imagined. There’s no harm in changing according to the market though, because Honda isn’t the only one here to have learned a lesson. Porsche built an SUV and Ferrari a four-seater.

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Despite the relatively conservative-looking interior and what looks like a bit of cost cutting on interior plastics, the new CR-V hasn’t compromised on safety. Half a dozen airbags, ABS with EBD and Vehicle Stability Assist, and the optional all-wheel-drive mean you have enough weapons to deal with an emergency. The CR-V is more car-like to drive than it has ever been, which can’t be an altogether bad thing.

Additionally, in the 2.4-litre version, there’s electronic power steering, which can vary the weightiness of the wheel depending on the speed you are doing. If not for the slightly higher seating, you could mistakenly believe you’re sitting in a sedan – that is until you panic brake and the higher centre of gravity becomes apparent. It’s a good thing the CR-V comes with those weapons we mentioned.

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