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Honda reveals CR-V revamp in Europe

Riding to the rescue: The facelifted 2010 CR-V has been revealed in Europe ahead of its first-half launch next year in Australia.

With CR-V sales down by half, Honda Oz sweats on new model in 2010

Honda logo15 Sep 2009

By RON HAMMERTON

HONDA’S sorely needed CR-V facelift has been revealed in Europe ahead of its global roll-out which, unfortunately for the Australian arm of the company, will not arrive in Down Under until the first half of 2010.

Honda Australia national public relations manager Mark Higgins today confirmed that the cosmetic changes on the UK-built model shown here are fundamentally the same as those to be wrought on the Thai-built CR-V to go on sale in Australia and elsewhere next year.

However, Mr Higgins ruled out the European model’s new 110kW/350Nm 2.2-litre diesel engine for Australia, saying the current 2.4-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine would be carried over as the sole engine in the mid-life facelift of the third-generation compact SUV.

The new-look CR-V gets a fresh grille and revised front and rear bumpers. In the UK, the top-of-the-range EX model gets painted lower bumpers and body-side cladding in place of the plain black plastic finish of the earlier model.

The UK car also gets more noise insulation around the engine bay – presumably to counter racket from the diesel engine that dominates sales in Europe, where the new model will go on sale from January.

15 center imageLeft: The current Honda CR-V.

An interior upgrade includes new materials that Honda claims give the CR-V a more premium finish, plus a higher-grade audio system.

New alloy wheel designs complete the package.

As reported in GoAuto in July, the arrival of the MY10 CR-V in Australia has been delayed by several months, apparently because of the global financial crisis.

The delay is unfortunate for Honda Australia, which is headed for its worst year of CR-V sales since the car’s launch a decade ago.

This year, CR-V sales are down 49 per cent on last year and headed for about 5600 units by year’s end. This compares with 12,642 just two years ago when the then new third-generation CR-V was riding high as one of the top-selling compact SUVs in the country.

The previous lowest annual volume for CR-V was 8435 in 1999, the first full year of the first-generation model.

The sales slump of Honda’s volume-selling CR-V has impacted 2009 Honda sales, which are down 25.3 per cent compared with an industry decline of 14.2 per cent.

The task of lifting CR-V sales has been made more challenging with across-the-board prices rises last month, with the price-tag of the base model elevated $1000 to $32,990 and larger rises on the Sport and Luxury variants.

More than ever, the CR-V is regarded as an on-road car rather than an off-road vehicle, and the softer styling of the third-generation was meant to reflect this role.

However, the rapid softening of sales indicates that the design has not had the shelf life of previous generations. Now, the evolutionary new look has added a sharper edge to the soft, fussy features of the current model's front fascia for a more robust appearance.

In the UK, the new Europe-only i-DTEC diesel engine, which debuted in the Euro Accord in 2008, will be accompanied by an optional, new Honda-made five-speed automatic transmission for the first time.

Five-speed auto and manual transmissions will also be available on the petrol models, which like the Australian versions, will retain the the current i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, but in the smaller 2.0-litre guise.

The diesel and petrol engines have all been upgraded to Euro 5 emissions standards.

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