Honda homes in on SUV dominance with all-new CR-V
Anup Ravindranath, General Manager, Marketing and Business Development, Honda Africa and Middle East is a proud man. Last year saw the Japanese car manufacturer sell some five million vehicles in 2016, the most it has ever sold.
The CR-V is now the best-selling SUV in the USA, and the best-selling SUV in the world, according to Ravindrananth.
We headed up to Ras al Khaimah’s stunning Waldorf Astoria hotel and the surrounding desert roads to find out what all the fuss surrounding the launch of the all-new CR-V (Compact Recreational Vehicle) is about.
While the Honda Civic won Car of The Year 2017, Honda felt its CR-V, while incredibly popular, needed an overhaul to catch up with the rest of the family.
The CR-V has seen just over 3.5 million sales to date, since its 1995 debut. Since then, the vehicle has undergone a number of iterations, “with each generation offering something new,” said the GM.
And while the changes since the early days have been quite dramatic, the vehicle has never lost its identity.
The shiny all-new vehicle we are here to drive is the fifth generation CR-V, described as a benchmark for future generations of the vehicle.
It comes in four variants, two in two-wheel drive, and two in four-wheel drive. There’s also new three new colour options, but ‘sandstorm metallic’ didn’t really wow us.
Raj Johal, Senior Manager, Marketing and Business Development, took us through some of the new aspects of the vehicle.
He said the challenge when creating a new generation of an already successful car is to try and make it even better. He highlighted its longer bonnet, better seats and more muscular stance. This new version has a noticeably higher standard of interior quality, including stylish new LED lights in the EX and touring versions.
What a performance
There’s definitely more smooth, dynamic performance form the 2.4 litre, DOHC i-VTEC engine (it’s diminutive engine size being one of the reasons it has gained such popularity in the traditionally gas-guzzling US market). Acceleration, while not wild, is better, and there’s more torque than before, creating a more agile, confident performance. Johal describes the new engine set-up as best-in-class in terms of power, torque and fuel consumption.
A few added gizmos and gadgets on-board make for safer, smoother driving, including a driver attention monitor which beeps when you should take a break, and an electronic brake booster (EBB) which boosts confidence. Lane Watch is supposed to add an extra layer of safety, but we found it distracting when, as you indicate, the road appears on the vehicle’s dashboard screen.
There’s a USB charging point and a HDMI socket, and you can easily connect your phone to the infotainment system, which offers ten different screens of information, including navigation, fuel consumption, 4WD set-up and entertainment options including internet accessibility.
‘Real-time’ 4WD sees the torque split from front to rear as you drive, and the delayed acceleration experienced in the previous engine – a lag between pressing the pedal to the metal and actual movement – is now gone, thanks to G-Shift, whereby the revs no longer fly into the red zone when you push it, rather you simply experience smoother, more immediate acceleration.
Torque is revealed on the dashboard, and this car – in our brief experience, definitely feels quieter, smoother and more responsive than the last generation.
The brake servo and discs are bigger, and when coupled with the EBB, you get safer driving at higher speeds and better fuel economy.
Life’s made a little easier with a programmable power tailgate, and pinch sensors stop the kids from trapping their pinkies in the power windows.
In short, the new CR-V is a little bit taller, a little bit wider, a little more tech-savvy, and overall, a little more worth having.
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