The square and chunky Honda CR-V bows out to a more fluidly styled successor. RACHNA TYAGI takes a close look at Honda's all-new soft-roader
Like they say, all old things must make way for the new. This is true for Honda's CR-V as well. Don't let the newly raked roofline, the prominently styled windows and its overall rounded looks deceive you - the current, boxy CR-V will soon become a thing of the past as the svelte, new CR-V gears itself for the big takeover. In the new design language adopted, Honda has incorporated numerous changes, which we expect to be carried forward to other car models as well. If the current CR-V's radically angled headlamps caught your fancy for managing to push the boundaries of conservative design, it's now time to brace yourself for a literal volte-face.
Design and interiors
Built around the new Civic platform, this unabashedly urban SUV features radical detailing and a highly stylised body. The new CR-V's distinctive chin detailing is unique and creates a delineation between the `V' of the bonnet and the bumper section. The grille takes some getting used to - its double-decker treatment initially has you believe that the hood has inadvertently popped open. The deeply etched beltline with a `soft' treatment for the lower body and a coupe-like rear pillar of the car is similar to the Audi Q7 or the Infinity FX. The CR-V gets a differently styled rear this time around - the visual orientation is not slab-like and ramrod rigid vertical like on the current model - there is a definite attempt to make the whole derriere of the car a lot more organic and pleasing to the eye. And yes, the wheel arches on the CR-V remind you of the BMW X5... which is a good thing, of course!A few more things have been tweaked on the new CR-V, which set it apart from the previous model. The first things that catch your eye are the Accord-like headlights, in terms of shape. Integrating the sloe-eyed looks of the Accord would not have been easy on an SUV, but to their credit, Honda's design boffins have managed the act with breathtaking panache. The next distinctive things are the taller tail lights fitted to the new CR-V - the tailgate is indeed a less radical and a more aesthetic visual presence. Interestingly, Honda is bringing in new tech for the CR-V - the active headlights incorporated now means they turn in the direction the steering is turned - illumination and visibility-related safety therefore has definitely taken a big step ahead. The inside of the new CR-V is a nice place to be. Yes, the familiar shades of black plastic greet you, but it's the detailing that's seen a big departure from the CR-V's standard fare so long. The twin dials, along with the tightly flanked centre console make for a sporty, car-like feel, while the Civic-inspired, but larger steering wheel adds a touch of the futuristic to the package. The controversial hand brake - previously mounted rather awkwardly on the fascia, has also rested its case and moved to its conventional space between the seats. The front seats are larger, and the steering column can be adjusted for reach. The CR-V also comes with a flexible `double-deck' for luggage storage, while internal volume flexibility has been thoughtfully enhanced with split-rear seats, as well as by utilising seats that tumble forward.
Powertrain and other tech
A 2000cc version from the current Civic range mill powers the new CR-V. Like the 2400cc motor on offer currently, this new unit also makes 150bhp - despite a capacity disadvantage amounting to almost 400cc! The manual gearbox now is a six-speed unit, and, as in the Civic, the automatic will come in the guise of a five-speeder.One of the aspects that have made the CR-V a pleasurable machine to pilot about has been its car-like handling traits combined with beyond passable ride quality. Its light, direct steering makes driving extremely pleasurable and is a major consideration for potential owners. Buyers are known to absolutely fall in love with Honda's light, un-SUV feel, and Honda has gone ahead an built on these positives by tuning the all-independent suspension for good body control and sharp steering, to provide hatchback-like, agile handling. Now, not only is the new CR-V lower by 35mm but it also has a 30mm wider track for further stability. How this will translate into suitability for our Indian roads remains to be seen, but trust Honda to get India-configuration spot-on before launching the machine here. With improved off-road traction and a part-time four-wheel-drive system that has become capable of sending 20 percent more torque to the rear wheels, the CR-V promises, on paper, to be indeed a buyer's delight.
What we think
Known for its exceptional build and reliability, the CR-V a no-fuss urban SUV, which has won hearts across several continents over the years. And this latest variant is no exception. While the revised styling, especially the nose, may take some getting used to for CR-V loyalists, the CR-V shouldn't have any difficulty in attracting a new breed of buyer to the Honda fold and business for one of India's most successful imports should be brisk. However, if Honda were to start assembling the car here, drop the price by a couple of lakh and slot the 140bhp 2.2-litre I-CTDi - the diesel engine - under its hood, the new CR-V will only see sales figures hitting a new high. Overnight. Over to you, Honda!