I am beginning to lose count of the number of launches I have attended recently where the vehicle being released is a compact SUV.
Last week’s offering was no exception. It was the South African launch of the fifth generation of a vehicle that could claim to be one of the very first of this genre when in 1995 the first offering left the plant.
At that time, the compact SUV category did not exist and even the manufacturer could not have envisaged that two decades and four generations later the global sales of the new product would top nine million.
The manufacturer was Honda and the vehicle the ubiquitous CRV. Demand was so high for the chunky SUV with its rear door mounted spare wheel that the decision was made to increase production and in 2000 European specification CR-V’s were leaving a new line at Swindon UK.
One year later, the second generation was launched with improved cabin space and introducing the new 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine.
Eight years on and the lower, wider and shorter generation three arrived, again with improved passenger space plus a repositioned spare wheel allowing a vertically opening tailgate.
The fourth generation and current model arrived in 2012 and with an upgrade in 2015, the larger and smoother styled CR-V became the world’s best selling SUV.
Last week generation five was launched in the Western Cape and according to Honda SA it is the most advanced, spacious and sophisticated version of the popular compact SUV to date.
It’s new from the ground up, the floorpan, based on the Civic, provides a very rigid and stable platform for the uprated suspension and power trains.
Ride quality and handling has been improved by the use of liquid filled bushings and special low friction dampers.
The dual-pinion, variable-ratio electric power steering has also been recalibrated to enhance steering precision and feedback.
Overall length drops by 10mm but the wheelbase is increased by 40mm, effectively putting a wheel at each corner, a technique employed by Alec Issigonis on his first Mini back in 1959.
This result is far more cabin space, particularly for rear passengers who gain 90mm of legroom. All occupants now enjoy more shoulder room thanks to a wider front and rear track.
Luggage capacity has also increased to 522 litres with the rear seat backrests in position and 1084 litres with them folded, the backrest has a 60:40 split.
The latest CR-V line up is available in four trim levels with a choice of two engines, both four cylinder petrol units.
The entry level Comfort and mid specification Elegance utilise a refined version of the current 2.0-litre VVT-i normally aspirated engine, producing 113kW at 6500rpm with 189Nm of torque at 4300rpm.
The high specification Executive and top of the range Exclusive power plant marks the introduction of the first turbo charged engine ever used in a CR-V.
The 1.5-litre delivers 140kW at 5600rpm and torque of 240Nm between 2000 and 5000rpm.
Both engine derivatives drive through a CVT transmission, the Comfort and Elegance putting power on the road via the front wheels while the Executive and Exclusive use Honda’s intelligent all-wheel drive system.
The specification levels of all versions are very good.
The Comfort is the entry level and offers cloth upholstery, a full colour fiveinch touchscreen with Bluetooth, hands free telephone operation, multi function steering wheel with height and reach adjustment, a digital instrument panel, 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, Halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights, auto headlights and rear parking sensors.
The Elegance adds the likes of front parking sensors, electrically adjustable front seats, front seat heating, leather upholstery, a seven-inch touchscreen an upgraded audio system, steering mounted gear shift paddles and a parking assist dipping exterior mirror.
Executive additions are 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, auto leveling headlights, keyless smart entry, a stop/start button, active noise control, panoramic sunroof and twin exhaust outlets.
The range topping Exclusive adds LED fog lights, satellite navigation and a height programmable electric tailgate.
All models are fitted with six airbags, ABS with EBD, Agile Handling Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, Driver Attention Monitor and ISOFix child seat mounting points as standard.
The real gem is the new 1.5-litre turbocharged engine which delivers much sharper performance than the normally aspirated 2.0-litre, but it is only available on the top of the range models.
- CR-V 2.0 Comfort R422 900
- CR-V 2.0 Elegance R477 900
- CR-V 1.5T Executive R584 900
- CR-V 1.5T Exclusive R626 900
Pricing includes a five-year / 200 000km warranty, a five-year / 90 000 km service plan and a three-year AA Road Assist. Services intervals are 15 000km for the 2.0-litre models and 10 000km for the 1.5-litre turbo version.