Driven: New Honda CR-V
Cheaper, more efficient and even more sedan-like in its fourth-generation avatar
The CR-V was once the toast of Honda in India. With its ultra-refined demeanour, classiness and practicality, it ruled the sales charts with aplomb. Introduced here in 2003, what was the second-gen model, the CR-V went on to be a runaway success. But increased competition and the lack of a diesel engine meant sales were took a hit. Last year, Honda finally ceased bookings of the SUV and cleared its stock in view of the new model’s launch in February.
Compared to the model it’s replacing, the new CR-V is smaller in size overall. The wheelbase continues to be the same and this means cabin space hasn’t changed much either. The cargo area has increased by a small margin, thanks to the elongated and bulbous rear section behind the C-pillar in the new design. Honda claims that boot capacity is actually up.
Under the hood you will now have the option of a petrol engine in two sizes – 2.0-litre or 2.4-litre. While the capacities are the same as the outgoing model, these are new engines with more power and torque to boast of. The smaller 2.0-litre engine now develops a healthy 154bhp, up by 13bhp. It’s a free-revving, smooth unit that brings out the horses easily via a 6-speed manual transmission, which is a carryover. Honda will also offer a 5-speed automatic gearbox option for this engine. The bigger 2.4-litre unit peaks at a healthier 187bhp (the earlier engine developed 159bhp). More importantly, it also churns out as much 226 newton-metres of torque which makes it seriously quick on open highway stretches. Both engines have a nice sporty note to boast. The 2.4 also gets paddle shifts as extra, which does add to the driving pleasure when in ‘S’ mode.
Handling is almost sedan like because this isn’t your typical high-rise SUV. Chuck the CR-V into a tight corner and it holds to the line without much body roll. Grip from the Michelins only accentuates this further. The electric-assisted power steering in the bigger-engined CR-V marginally adds to the feel to what is otherwise a reasonably light steering.
You won’t be able to find faults with the ergonomics, although the interiors don’t give you an ultra-luxurious feel that you would expect for a car costing upwards of Rs 25 lakh. Plastics feel ordinary, although fit and finish is impeccable. In the top-of-the-line variant, there is a 6.1-inch touchscreen audio/video and navigation system. In the lower spec you just get bland-looking, extra large buttons to operate the music system.
The all-new CR-V is definitely all-new, but carries its soft-roader image a step further with a vehicle that looks like an SUV but drives like a car. It comes with real-time 4WD in the bigger-engined version, but is very much an on-road hero. It is quick, refined and well put-together, with the focus more on giving its occupants a safe and hassle-free drive, rather that pumping up the driver’s adrenaline levels. Typically, and not surprisingly, Honda has limited geeky gadgets to the absolute essential. There is a bit of pampering for those who would opt for the higher variants.
Honda is yet to reveal prices, but we expect it to be in the Rs 25-30 lakh bracket, which is similar to the outgoing model. Importantly, the car will be assembled in India, which means the prices could now be more competitive. With no immediate plans to introduce a diesel engine in the CR-V, it will be a tough challenge to present the vehicle as a genuine value proposition for that price. If Honda can pull that off, the new CR-V could well see its glory sales days again.
2.0L 2WD - 1997cc, 154bhp, 190Nm, 6M or 5A, 13.7kpl
2.4L 4WD - 2364cc, 187bhp, 226Nm, 5A, 12kpl