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Honda CR-V S

 

The new CR-V is actually shorter and lower than the old, and it’s no bad thing through tight corners.

Base price: $39,900.

Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre petrol four, 114kW/190Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 7.7 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 4545mm long, 1685mm high, kerb weight 1460kg, luggage capacity 589/1146 litres, fuel tank 58 litres, 17-inch wheels on 225/65 tyres.

We like: Excellent on-road dynamics, clever Magic Seat system in rear.

We don’t like: Some cabin materials feel cheap, five-speed automatic lacks verve.

How it rates: x710

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Crossover wagons account for a quarter of new cars sold in New Zealand. It’s not only the largest single segment, it follows that it’s the most competitive too.

Given that very few of these vehicles actually venture off-road, the latest trend in the crossover market is for two-wheel drive models that offer all of the style and space expected in this genre, but at a price comparable to a small or medium car.

Honda New Zealand looked pretty smart when it launched the fourth-generation CR-V last year, as it slipped a 2.0-litre front-drive model into the range for less than $40,000.

That version is still quite a smart choice, but circa-2013 it’s certainly not unique in the segment. Does the entry-level CR-V S still stack up?

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

The 2.0-litre engine (as found in your garden variety Civic) is no ball of fire, but it is smooth and free-revving – perhaps more so than the larger 2.4-litre unit used in all-wheel drive CR-Vs.

However, the powerplant is somewhat hampered by the five-speed automatic transmission. That’s pretty old-hat these days and while Honda has protested long and loud to media that more gears doesn’t necessarily mean better real-world performance, the reality is that this smaller-engined CR-V would be much more lively with a six-speed gearbox to help take the strain in open-road driving.

The new CR-V is actually shorter and lower than the old, and it’s no bad thing through tight corners. The CR-V has always been totally focused on the tarmac and it remains a pleasing machine to drive quickly: decent steering, good body control.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?

The CR-v’s cabin is strong on style but definitely built down to a price, with a few too many hard plastics and ungainly textures on display.

The CR-V’s unique selling proposition is Magic Seat, an astonishingly clever system of folding rear chairs that we’ve previously seen in the Jazz and Civic Euro. The CR-V’s version of magic seat is not as complex as the smaller cars’ but it does still provide you with an astonishingly low and flat load space that requires almost no effort to configure. There’s nothing like it in the segment.

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

That’s a tricky question. The market is awash with new models and this CR-V no longer looks like a bright young thing next to the likes of the just-launched Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Outlander.

Worse, while the CR-V’s sub-$40k price looked very sharp when it was released, all of the rivals mentioned above offer at least one model at that same price point.

So in many respects it looks like the CR-V is playing catch-up again, but if you want to keep things in the $30k bracket, avoid Continuously Variable Transmission (RAV4, Forester, Outlander) and carry a chest of drawers or a large artwork (yes, I did that) occasionally, then the CR-V S is suddenly back in contention.


EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

Air conditioning: Manual

Audio: CD, iPod compatible

Automatic lights/wipers: No/no

Bluetooth: Yes

Cruise control: Yes

Driver footrest: Yes

Head-up display: No

Keyless entry/start: No/no

Leather upholstery: No

Parking radar: Yes

Remote audio controls: Yes

Satellite navigation: No

Seat height adjustment: Yes

Split/folding rear seats: 50/50

Steering reach adjustment: Yes

Trip computer: Yes




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