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Driven: Honda’s first diesel SUV arrives

Good oil: Honda’s CR-V diesel is available in DTi-S and DTi-L specification and arrives more than a year after the launch of the fourth-generation petrol model.

UK-sourced Honda CR-V diesel is set to boost sales and scare its compact rivals


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20 Jan 2014

HONDA has finally filled the glaring hole in its mid-size SUV line-up with the addition of the UK-sourced diesel-powered CR-V, arriving in local showrooms this month.

Landing more than a year after the launch of the fourth-generation petrol-powered CR-V range, the diesel version is available in two specifications and comes standard with Honda’s electronic four-wheel drive system with ‘Intelligent Control’.

Unlike the petrol-powered versions, there is no base VTi variant available with a diesel powertrain, instead Honda has chosen to mimic some of its competitors, such as the Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Outlander by offering mid-range and range-topping specifications only.

The range kicks off with the DTi-S in six-speed manual guise from $38,290 plus on-road costs, while buyers can opt for a five-speed automatic transmission for an extra $2300 which boosts the price to $40,590.

Top-spec DTi-L variants retail for $45,340 plus on-roads, with metallic paint available on all variants for an additional charge of $575.

In much the same way as the base CR-V two-wheel drive petrol variant undercuts a number of its rivals on price, so too does the diesel range.

The $38,290 opening price beats equivalently specified diesel competitors such as the Kuga Trend ($39,240), CX-5 Maxx Sport ($39,470), Outlander LS ($39,490) and the Toyota RAV4 GXL ($39,190).

There are a number of other contenders in the super competitive mid-size SUV segment that offer slighter cheaper alternatives and they include the Subaru Forester 2.0D-L from $37,490, the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan X-Trail TS at $36,490 and Kia Sportage SLi from $35,490, all excluding on-roads.

The CR-V sold 12,510 units in Australia last year to be Honda’s second best selling vehicle behind the resurgent Civic small sedan and hatch range which recorded 14,261 sales to the end of December.

Despite a massive 164 per cent boost in sales over the same period in 2012, the CR-V was outsold by the Subaru Forester (13,649), Toyota RAV4 (16,983) and the most popular mid-size SUV last year, the Mazda CX-5 (20,129) to be the fourth highest selling car in its class.

Each of those vehicles have been available with a diesel powertrain for some time so the Japanese car-maker is no doubt hoping for a further boost in sales following the launch of the diesel variants.

Unlike the petrol versions which are built in Thailand, the diesel variants are sourced from Swindon in the United Kingdom and are powered by a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with a choice of six-peed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

The blown oil-burner produces 110kW of power at 4000rpm and 350Nm between 2000 and 2750rpm which is in the range of key rivals such as the Outlander (110kW/360Nm), RAV4 (110kW/340Nm) and Forester (108kW/350Nm) but lags behind the segment-leading CX-5’s 2.2-litre unit (129kW/420Nm).

Naturally the diesel is more fuel efficient than the equivalent CR-V petrol engine, with official figures for the DTi-S 5.8 litres per 100km when matched with a manual gearbox and 6.7L/100km in automatic guise, while the auto-only DTi-L sips 6.9L/100km.

These figures are closely aligned with other models in the CR-V’s class, including the automatic CX5 (5.7L/100km), Outlander (5.8L/100km) and RAV4 (6.5L/100km).

Braked towing capacity is 1500kg in diesel automatic guise, matching the CR-V petrol, but is boosted to 2000kg in the manual CR-V diesel.

This is well above the RAV4’s capacity of 1000kg and in line with the Outlander’s ability to haul 2000kg.

Honda is differentiating the diesel from its petrol-powered siblings with subtle styling changes including restyled headlights with daytime running lights and a matte grey grille, while there is a slightly different design to the tail-lights.

The cabin also features minor changes, such as new trims and materials, chrome and black plastic replacing the wood grain of the petrol variants and different leather trim in DTi-L spec.

Staying inside the cabin, the standard features list for the DTi-S includes LED daytime running lights, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, rain-sensing wipers, hands-free Bluetooth phone and audio, dual-zone climate control, leather wrapped steering wheel, sat-nav, an auto dimming rear-view mirror and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Moving up to DTi-L specification adds push-button start, front parking sensors, bi-Xenon headlights, active cornering lights, roof rails, eight-way power driver’s seat with memory, heated driver and front passenger seats and 18-inch alloys.

Both variants feature Honda’s ECON button which alters the operation of the air conditioning and cruise control to conserve fuel.

The MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems are identical to those in the petrol variants, while the five-speed automatic transmission features Grade Logic Control which adjusts the shifts to hold it in a lower gear for better climbing power when traversing a hill.

The transmission also includes Shift Hold Control that prevents up-shifts to higher gears on winding roads where the accelerator is swiftly released and the brakes are engaged.

Honda says its Real Time all-wheel drive system with Intelligent Control provides a quicker reaction when a loss of traction is detected. This system also detects when the CR-V is climbing up a hill and automatically sends additional torque to the rear wheels, while communicating with the hill start assist function.

A hill descent control function that operates between eight and 20km/h is available on automatic variants.

Safety wise, the CR-V diesel gets the same five-star ANCAP crash rating as the petrol version, six airbags, an emergency stop signal, ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, a whiplash-mitigating seat design and Trailer Stability Assist system.

2014 Honda CR-V diesel pricing*
DTi-S (a)$40,590
DTi-L (a)$45,340
*Excludes on-road costs.

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