The previous Honda CR-V was once amongst the most popular import cars in India. Then the competition hotted up and the petrol-only CR-V lost some of its appeal. Honda has, however, quietly been slaving away to bring this new, fourth-generation CR-V to India. The all-new car is also the first CR-V to be assembled in India, and that will help Honda price it more competitively.
Honda has managed a delicate balancing act with the styling of the new car. It’s easily recognisable as a CR-V and so will be a car many can identify, but it’s different too. Full of sharper-looking details, the body panels have been clothed in a tighter-fitting skin and there are plenty of cuts and creases all over. The high-mounted tail-lights are evolved from the current car. The most interesting detail, however, is the rear three-quarter window, which tapers to a point. The new car's styling is also not as quirky as the previous model’s and that means the new CR-V is likely to appeal to a wider audience.
It is offered with the same 2.0- and 2.4-litre petrol motors as before. However, they have received a bump in power and torque. So the 2.0 gets 154bhp (only 7bhp less than the earlier 2.4) and the updated 2.4 gets 187bhp. The smaller motor is offered with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. The 2.4 motor is only offered as an auto and comes with Honda's on-demand four-wheel-drive system.
The responsiveness of the 2.4 in the city is not bad, even in Eco mode, and tapping on the accelerator for a small increase in speed gets an immediate response. The five-speed automatic gearbox, however, is a bit slow, so that big burst of acceleration takes its time coming. It has tall gear ratios too – second gear runs up to an indicated 135kph. More gear ratios and a faster shift would have been ideal.
Flat-out performance is much stronger. Speeds as high as 150kph are breached quite easily, and keep your foot down and the CR-V feels reasonably quick, even on an open road. The motor is quite audible at high engine speeds though, especially past 5000rpm, but it sounds sporty rather than intrusive.
Ride quality is surprisingly good too. It rides flat and body movements are well controlled. The suspension is silent and this adds to the feeling of calm inside the already silent cabin.
As for the handling, the CR-V feels nice and poised around corners and very car-like to drive in the manner in which it responds to tight as well as high-speed corners. Straight-line stability is very good too, with no nervousness at high speeds. The new CR-V, however, isn't quite as nice to drive as the previous one, thanks to the new, more efficient electrically assisted steering system. It's not bad, per se, nor is it as light and inert as many other new electric systems, but it isn't nearly as good as the old hydraulic system.
The CR-V may look bigger than the old car in pictures, especially from the outside, but it is actually shorter and lower slung. The driving position is more car-like than in the current car and this has been done purposely, says Honda, to help emphasise its car-like driving manners. Honda has also done a very good job of utilising space, with almost every area having grown. There’s an additional 225mm in the cabin, which helps it feel more airy and open, and the high-quality steering wheel and multiple screens give the interiors a modern feel. The wow factor is considerably upped by the classy instrument panel as well. Well finished and with minimalist white numbers on a black dial, the instrument panel also incorporates a digital display at the centre, along with a layered 3D effect.
Just like the earlier CR-V, there’s plenty of space for passengers at the rear. The cabin feels wider, the completely flat floor makes it a genuine five-seater, and the big back seats offer plenty of comfort. As ever, the new CR-V will be a great car to be chauffeured around in.
The car also has more luggage space – 589 litres with the last row of seats in place, and 1,648 litres with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down – an increase of 148 litres.
Drivers of the 2.4 also get paddle shifters for a more controlled drive. The top-end AVN variant also features an electric sunroof, and a 6.1-inch multimedia information display that is used to control the audio, video and navigation. The rear-view camera will be very handy and is standard across the range. The CR-V also boasts of a button-activated Eco mode for a more fuel-efficient drive. Leather-wrapped seats, steering-mounted audio controls, cruise control and the one-touch folding rear seats are standard across the range.
Honda will also offer two styling packages for the CR-V. The Inspire package gets chrome garnishes and scuff plates for the door sills, as well as a tail spoiler and sculpted running boards. The Elegance package offers a healthier smattering of chrome, but does without the spoiler and the running boards. What makes it distinctive is its honeycomb grille.
Honda has priced the base 2.0L MT variant at Rs 19.95 lakh and the 2.0L AT at Rs 20.85 lakh. The 2.4L AT comes priced at Rs 22.40 lakh and the top trim level 2.4L AVN at Rs 23.85 lakh. The diesel version is not part of the current plan and is unlikely to come to India within the first year, but with prices as competitive as these, there should still be healthy demand for Honda's petrol SUV.