2018 Honda CR-V

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Review: 2018 Honda CR-V

Driven September 2018

Review: 2018 Honda CR-V

Sometime last month, Honda had invited a bunch of us to the Philippines to give us a taste of their latest, the fifth-generation CR-V. The ed has had a go at it and you can read about what he thought of the car here or, you could pick up a copy of the September issue of our magazine for a more detailed read.

However, our conditions have their own challenges and peculiarities, ones that cannot be replicated on well-surfaced roads in foreign lands and definitely not with their level of road awareness. So, it isn’t surprising that Honda handed out keys to the brand new car and let me find out what it feels like here. The car you see in pictures here is a two-wheel-drive version of the diesel-powered CR-V, which will hit showrooms in a couple of weeks, just in time for the season of festivities.

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Design and styling
There has been enough that has been said about the way the new CR-V looks already. This particular example, dressed in silver sure looks more grown-up and muscular compared to the outgoing car. The full LED headlamp unit, panoramic sunroof and flared out haunches, all work to make the CR-V appear bigger. There is also the bit about raised ground clearance that helps establish this sense of ruggedness. However, it doesn’t grab much attention and remains understated with few people turning around for a second glimpse of the car.

Interiors and equipment
There have been a few questions asked of Honda with the way they have chosen to go about their dashboards, with the new CR-V though they’ve managed to get plenty right. Space management has always been Honda’s calling card and the first two rows of seats in the CR-V is no different. Comfortable and supportive, and with enough space, the CR-V feels like a great place to be in. The fold and tumble mechanism of the second row is fiddly and makes getting into the third row a bit of challenge. Space is also at a serious premium here and is best suited for children in their early teens.

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However, the dashboard and the materials used up front make this Honda feel great with a 7-inch touchscreen protruding from the centre of the dashboard and the instrument cluster doing away with dials as well. Even the steering wheel controls have been re-imagined as has the gear selector switches for the nine-speed auto that is mated to the diesel. There is stuff that needs getting used to but adds a bit of quirky uniqueness to the cabin. The petrol version, equipped with a CVT, however, get a proper gear lever as a part of the layout. What remains constant on both are the many usable storage spaces along with a two-position parcel shelf for the boot in this 7-seater version. The only bit of kit that you will miss is the lack of a powered tailgate.

Engine and transmission
Here is the big change. Honda has finally paid heed to all the clamour and introduced a 1.6-litre, iDTEC – Honda for diesel – motor. This four-cylinder unit makes 118bhp and 300Nm of torque. Coupled with a nine-speed automatic transmission, this motor feels adequate in urban conditions and for a steady highway cruise. However, overtakes on the highway need to be thought out as the motor runs out of steam towards the top. Treat it with a gentle foot and it is happy to cruise along at triple-digit speeds with little noise making its way into the cabin. Honda has done a good job of cutting out road and wind noise, but if you happen to rev the engine hard, past 3000rpm, it starts getting vocal. With nine-ratios to transmit power to the front wheels, the gearbox is unhurried left to its own devices. In ‘D’ there is a slight pause before a shift is executed, but move to ‘S’ and the responses become far better with quicker shifts. Here you can even use the paddles behind the steering wheel to move through the gearbox which livens up the experience.

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The larger 2-litre, petrol motor makes a more respectable 152bhp, but thanks to the CVT gearbox, it never really feels quick. While the CVT transmission works really well to keep things smooth, it isn’t particularly responsive. Revs tend to shoot up when you put your foot down, but there isn’t a surge of power to accompany it.

Ride and handling
The monsoon has taken its toll even on the superb highways of Rajasthan and there were plenty of rough patches to deal with through the drive. Although the suspension has been set up for a firm ride, the CR-V manages to gobble up potholes incredibly well. Smaller undulations are hardly felt and even slightly larger potholes, the sort that would make you flinch when you spot it at the last moment, are sufficiently smothered. There remains a fair amount of body roll that you need to contend with if you do plan to hurry the CR-V around a corner. The petrol powered CR-V is roughly 100 kilograms lighter than the two-wheel-drive diesel car that I was driving, but the suspension was certainly stiffer with plenty of thuds through rough patches.

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Verdict
Despite the taller stance and styling to bulk up the CR-V, this fifth-generation SUV feels as car-like as one could hope for. The addition of a diesel motor should be a big bonus for a brand that has already been fairly popular despite being offered only with a petrol engine. The first two rows of seats are spacious and comfortable, while the third is strictly for children. Materials used in the dash and the many storage spaces makes this cabin a great space to be in. They have also added on a little camera on the left wing mirror to give you a wider field of vision while you change lanes. However, the practicality of the system, I’d say, needs to be thought through. There is a huge expectation from the CR-V and the value it will eventually offer remains to be seen. Honda has done plenty right and delivered a comfortable and efficient package. But, the fact that there isn’t an outright hook that holds your attention about the CR-V, which is already late to the party, might be a bit of a concern.
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Price: 30 lakh (expected)
CR-V Diesel 2WD
LxWxH: 4592x1855x1689mm
Wheelbase: 2660
Ground Clearance: 198mm
Turning radius: 5.5m
Engine: 1.6 litre, turbo diesel, FWD
Power: 118bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 2000rpm
Transmission: 9A
Kerb weight: 1666kg
Fuel tank: 57 litres




Debabrata Sarkar

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