What was intended as a glorious weekend of racing action at Killarney in Cape Town for the final round of the World Rallycross Championships recently, turned itself on its head when Mrs W pressed me into service as a ‘gopher’.
Well, not me as much as the Honda CR-V 1.5 CVT I had arranged to be my transport to and from the circuit for the weekend.
You see, Mrs W had the job as catering co-ordinator for several of the international racing teams. Armed with voracious appetites, it was necessary to top up – especially things like fresh fruit – so, early in the morning before even the teams arrived it was off to the local suppliers for me and my Honda that, fortunately, comes with a suitably large luggage space and fold-flat rear seats.
Equally important – the level of the rear sill is ideally positioned for loading and unloading so it is not necessary to bend unduly while hefting large boxes and the like.
Although it was actually launched more than a year ago, this retrospective look at the CR-V, was a welcome opportunity to do things a little outside of the normal road review routine.
Completely redesigned and re-engineered from the ground up for the latest generation, the Honda CR-V gained a more spacious, quieter cabin with extended rear legroom and an expanded cargo compartment and is built on a new platform architecture, improving overall ride quality and refinement, adding crisper steering response, enhanced ride comfort and more composed handling.
Styling mirrors much of Civic, with the curved, slim line headlights that frame the broad-barred grille and the bonnet’s pronounced contours that meet the base of the slim A-pillar for a neatly integrated appearance.
Below the main grille, dual air intakes with a dark meshed finish split the colour-coded bumper, while the top model gains both LED headlights and front LED fog lamps. A metallic scuff plate underlines the new CR-V’s SUV identity.
Viewed in profile, the CR-V’s aerodynamic shape is even more apparent, thanks to the smooth roofline with its smoothly integrated roof rails, the subtly curved waistline, the narrow side glass aperture and the raked rear screen.
Rear passenger legroom was been by a full 9 cm, and there is more shoulder room both front and rear. The 60/40 split rear bench seat can be folded flat to expand cargo capacity, creating a completely flat loading floor in the process.
The overall dashboard design is clean and uncluttered and the centre console includes a lidded binnacle that also acts as a centre armrest, while dual cup holders are provided in an open storage box in front of the armrest.
With the seats in place the CR-V offers 522 litres of luggage space, extendable to 1 084 litres with the seatbacks folded down – and I used all of it, several times.
I am no fan of CVT transmissions but Honda has managed to produce one that is not irritatingly noisy nor that hunts incessantly trying to find the optimum gearing.
The 1 498 cc turbo engine is equipped with programmed, direct fuel injection, variable valve timing to deliver 140 kW of maximum power at 5 600 r/min, together with 240 Nm of maximum torque in a broad band between 2 000 r/min and 5 000 r/min.
The CVT gearbox is linked to an intelligent Real Time AWD system that seamlessly transfers power from the front to the rear wheels when additional traction is required.
The system has undergone significant improvements for the new CR-V, including a substantial increase in maximum rear wheel torque delivery, and a new intelligent control system for improved overall performance, without having to wait for the front wheels to slip before proportioning torque to the rear.
The CR-V combines a MacPherson strut-based front suspension with a multilink rear configuration where liquid-filled bushings and special, low-friction dampers are fitted, while tubular stabiliser bars in front and solid stabiliser bars at the rear ensure improved turn-in response and more composed cornering.
The dual-pinion, variable-ratio electric power steering was also recalibrated to enhance steering precision and feedback – and it greatly appreciated while negotiating the traffic in and out of the racetrack and around the busy suburb of Tableview.
Inside, the 1.5T Executive has leather upholstery, the Digital Driver Information Interface and a 7-inch Display Audio infotainment system – all-in-all a comfortable ‘workspace’ with easy ingress to the driver and passenger seats.
It also comes standard with a panoramic sunroof, auto-levelling for the headlights and a start/stop button instead of a conventional ignition key, while the remote central locking system includes keyless smart entry.
It is light, manoeuvrable and really easy to drive. It is also quite fun to drive.
With little real opportunity to put it to the test on twisty roads, there is not too much I can say about its high-speed handling. However, with the reputation Honda carries for that on its other vehicles, it is likely this small SUV will acquit itself well under pressure.
The range is backed by a 5-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a 5-year/90 000 km service plan. Also included is a three-year AA Road Assist package. Scheduled services are at for the 1,5-litre turbo variants.