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First drive: Honda seeks CR-V resurrection

Sporting chance: Honda is hoping its all-new CR-V will lure buyers back to the brand as it takes on rivals including the new Mitsubishi Outlander, Mazda CX-5 and upcoming Subaru Forester.

Honda’s struggling compact SUV is reborn amid a groundswell of fresh rival activity


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20 Nov 2012

HONDA hopes its lower, shorter, lighter and yet more spacious CR-V will see customers flock to the 15-year-old nameplate in larger numbers than ever.

The fourth-generation version on sale this week appears to be $600 cheaper than before, but is effectively $2400 more expensive when comparing models directly.

Although priced from $27,490 (plus on-road costs), this is for the new VTi front-wheel-drive model with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and manual gearbox whereas the previous CR-V at $28,090 included a more powerful 2.4-litre engine and all-wheel drive.

In the new model there is no longer an AWD manual option, so buyers wanting the combination of the bigger engine and off-road capability must opt for the $32,790 VTi 2.4L AWD automatic – a hefty $4700 increase.

Honda Australia is confident the new CR-V’s “more three-dimensional styling”, improved drivetrain efficiency promising fuel consumption cuts of up to 25 per cent, and a much longer standard features list will more than compensate for the specification shifts.

CR-V chief designer Manabu Konaka said the bolder nose, deeper sculpting of the bodyline creases, wider wheelarches and fuller tail-light design helped create a vehicle with more presence.

Mr Konaka said a more “sedan-like driving position” was achieved by reducing the length (by 20mm to 4545mm) and height (by 30mm to 1685mm), moving the windscreen forward 60mm for a more cab-forward silhouette and making the hip point 38mm lower.

Aerodynamic drag drops eight per cent as a result of these changes, as well as a flatter underbody and optimised airflow over items such as the arches.

Boot capacity has increased by 147 litres to 1648 litres, the load area is 140mm longer at 1570mm and the floor height has dropped to 665mm for easier loading.

Honda says improving functionality and useability was another priority for the new Thai-built CR-V.

Taller drivers now benefit from a 10mm increase in steering wheel and seat height adjustability, the rear seats fold with a single motion and the door casings are concave to allow a wider centre console with more storage, extra cupholders and air vents for rear occupants.

Honda also targeted quality, with improved material and trim fit and finishes, and reduced noise, vibration and harshness, with better insulation and new double seals on the doors.

The previous CR-V’s base, Sport and Luxury variant names have given way to Honda’s now-standardised VTi, VTi-S and VTi-L badges.

Mirroring the successful Mazda CX-5 that is currently number two in the compact SUV segment, the entry-level VTi comes with a reversing camera and front, side and full-length curtain airbags (with rollover sensors), as well as air-conditioning, roof rails, cruise control, power windows, remote central locking and Bluetooth connectivity.

The VTi-S adds auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, dual-zone climate-control, satellite navigation and rear parking sensors, while the VTi-L includes HID headlights with an active cornering function, sunroof, keyless entry and push-button start, powered and heated front seats, leather upholstery and front parking sensors.

All 2WD models will be powered by Honda’s 2.0-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 114kW of power at 6500rpm and 190Nm of torque at 4300rpm.

Combined cycle fuel consumption is 7.8 litres per 100km for the six-speed manual and 7.7L/100km for the revised five-speed automatic.

The AWD models, meanwhile, deliver 140kW at 7000rpm and 222Nm at 4400rpm from an improved version of Honda’s long-lived 2.4-litre i-VTEC four-cylinder that boasts a 13 per cent consumption reduction (from 10.0L/100km to 8.7L/100km) and 15 per cent fewer emissions.

Honda has confirmed that a diesel is in the pipeline for Australia and will likely be a 110kW/350Nm 2.2-litre returning about 6.6L/100km with an auto.

Underneath a nine per cent more rigid monocoque body, the new CR-V sports a revised MacPherson strut front suspension and modified multi-link rear end, while the steering is electric-powered.

Honda has also ditched the previous model’s hydraulic part-time AWD system in favour of an electric system.

Honda Australia general manager of sales and marketing Stephen Collins said the RM-series CR-V ought to attract new as well as existing buyers to the marque.

“We’re looking to getting CR-V back to the top of shopping lists for people looking for an SUV – back to 1000 units per month,” he told GoAuto.

2012 Honda CR-V pricing*
2WD VTi$27,490
2WD VTi (a)$29,790
2WD VTi with navigation (a)$31,790
4WD VTi (a)$32,790
4WD VTi-S (a)$36,290
4WD VTi-L (a)$42,290
*Plus on-road costs

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