Review: Honda Elevate 1.5 Elegance CVT

Honda lovers can choose between a six-speed manual transmission in the entry-level Comfort guise or an automatic gearbox in flagship Elegance.

A significant new entry into the hotly contested local compact SUV segment, Honda South Africa is back to its best in terms of packaging, build quality, value-for-money and efficiency with the new Elevate. CAR Mag’s Ian McLaren drove it at its local launch.

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Honda Elevate 1.5 Elegance CVT fast facts

  • Price: R429 900
  • Engine: 1.5l, four-cylinder, naturally aspirated
  • Transmission: CVT
  • Power: 89kW @ 6 600r/min
  • Torque: 145N.m @ 4 300r/min
  • Driven wheels: Front
  • Fuel consumption: 6.1l/100km
  • CO2 emissions: 146g/km
  • Rivals: Volkswagen T-Cross, Toyota Urban Cruiser, Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, Haval Jolion

What are we driving?

Sharing a platform with the modern Ballade sedan, the new Elevate is a vital new product for Honda South Africa as it hopes to both claw back lost market share but also reconnect somewhat with an otherwise loyal local customer base. The Elevate is also the first Indian-assembled product set to be exported to Honda’s home market, a fact that places pressures of its own on overall build quality.

The Elevate is 4 312mm long, 1 750mm wide and 1 650mm tall, figures that all but match those of the popular Toyota Urban Cruiser. The Honda has a slightly longer wheelbase compared with its Suzuki-based rival and boasts 199mm worth of ground clearance.

Related: Honda unveils high riding Elevate SUV to take on South Koreans

Mated with the brand’s familiar naturally-aspirated (not turbocharged) 1.5l engine, the Elevate is offered with a six-speed manual transmission in entry-level Comfort guise and a CVT (automatic) gearbox in flagship Elegance specification.

Why is the Honda Elevate significant?

While the second-generation, altogether more refined but also relatively expensive, BR-V has yet to find as much favour in the market as the first model, offerings like the HR-V and modern Civic have similarly been unavoidably priced out of reach of many traditional Honda owners. The arrival of a well-packaged, efficient and by all accounts affordable Honda that happens to offer a fashionable raised ride height bodes well in terms of this proven brand re-establishing itself as a volume player in our market.

What’s new on the Honda Elevate? 

The Elevate’s styling is refreshingly fluid, with an enlarged family-familiar grille accented by a chrome strip that links LED-equipped headlamp units. There’s more chrome to be found on the door handles and purely cosmetic roof rails on the range-topping Elegance derivative, while this model gains 17-inch alloy wheels (16-inch steel items are fitted to the Comfort model).

Honda Elevate
Image: Honda.

There’s a welcome familiarity to be found on the inside where, if we’re being honest, in a sea of touchscreens and vast infotainment displays, we prefer the presence of ‘old-fashioned’ buttons and controls, particularly for functions like climate control and the audio system. A wireless charging dock is included in Elegance trim, with smartphone mirroring technology offered throughout.

Related: 2024 Honda Elevate Price & Specs

While there are some hard plastics present in the cabin, Honda has done an admirable job of incorporating softer surfaces, including synthetic leather on the seating and steering wheel, where it counts. Also appreciated is a height adjustment on the driver’s seat, dedicated air vents for the rear seat passengers and the standard fitment of a sunroof in the range-topping model. The available legroom in the rear is generous.

What does the new Honda Elevate cost? 

  • Honda Elevate 1.5 Comfort manual – R369 900
  • Honda Elevate 1.5 Elegance CVT – R429 900

The Elevate is sold with a five-year/200 000km warranty and four-year/60 000km service plan.

What are the new Honda Elevate’s rivals? 

This is an interesting one because in terms of its size and packaging the Elevate has more expensive models like the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos in its sights. While the Toyota Urban Cruiser/Suzuki Grand Vitara are also in the mix against the Honda in Comfort spec, we’d suggest the Elevate Elegance could also challenge the likes of the entry-level VW T-Cross (R456 100) and Chery Tiggo 7 Pro 1.5T (R442 900).

Of course, there are also many more rivals within this hotly contested segment but Honda South Africa will back its reputation for aftersales service, reliability and, indeed resale values against most opposition brands.

What is the Honda Elevate like to drive?

As showcased by its sedan sibling (as well as other India-sourced products), a forgiving ride quality over most surfaces is a highlight of the Elevate’s driving experience. The steering is well-weighted and despite the fitment of a torsion beam suspension at the rear, there’s even a modest level of poise present in this distant relative of the Civic Type R.

Image: Honda.

Impressively refined and, indeed, efficient (I recorded 6.2l/100km for our Cape Town-based launch route), it’ll once again be up to the individual needs of the buyer – specifically how far above sea level in our country they live – whether a relatively modest 145N.m of torque is sufficient. Driven sedately to avoid the frantic nature of this type of transmission when the going gets tough, the Elevate’s powertrain is adequate in the interests of efficiency. Despite the temptation, it’s best to leave the steering wheel-mounted paddles that ‘operate’ artificial gear shifts alone.

Another highlight of modern Honda packaging is the considered use of sound-deadening materials. A cabin that’s suitably isolated from the outside world adds to inherent levels of sophistication.


Already available in the Fit, the touted introduction of hybrid drivetrain technology within more current Honda products, including the otherwise impressive Elevate – and assuming Honda SA could keep the price enticing – could prove to be a game-changer. As it stands, and notably for its uncluttered, easy-to-operate packaging and an all-around likeability that reminds us of Honda products of old, the Elevate is one of our favourite compact SUV offerings.

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The post Review: Honda Elevate 1.5 Elegance CVT appeared first on CAR Magazine.

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