Plenty of rea­sons why new CR-V will be pop­u­lar

The Horowhenua Mail - - WHAT’S ON - ROB MAETZIG

For­get about such prod­uct as the new Civic hatch and even the Type-R – the most im­por­tant Honda to be launched in New Zealand this year is a medi­um­sized SUV.

The ve­hi­cle is a new fifth­gen­er­a­tion CR-V, which has ar­rived a lit­tle ear­lier than Honda New Zealand an­tic­i­pated.

In fact the first ship­ment of CRVs ar­rived just as the com­pany was pre­par­ing to in­tro­duce the five-door hatch­back ver­sion of its Civic range. So what could Honda NZ do? It quickly added the ve­hi­cle to the sub­ject mat­ter at a me­dia con­fer­ence that was sup­posed to be the pre­serve of the hatch and its racy ver­sion the Type-R.

But don’t think that just be­cause the CR-V al­most had to play se­cond-fid­dle to the Civic by be­ing lumped into that me­dia con­fer­ence, that it’s not a cru­cial ve­hi­cle. It’s ac­tu­ally the most im­por­tant model in the Honda fleet, one that is ex­pected to shoot to the top of Honda sales here, over­tak­ing both the smaller Honda SUV the HR-V and the lit­tle Jazz hatch in terms of num­bers of ve­hi­cles cross­ing show­room floors.

At the me­dia con­fer­ence Honda NZ mar­ket­ing man­ager Na­dine Bell fore­cast more than 1300 CR-V sales in the eight months to the end of the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, and more than 2000 sales next year.

If the ve­hi­cle can achieve that level of sales – and there’s no rea­son why it shouldn’t, given that the medium SUV cat­e­gory is the most pop­u­lar in the Kiwi new ve­hi­cle mar­ket with at least six other mod­els achiev­ing more than 2000 an­nual reg­is­tra­tions – then it will im­me­di­ately place the CR-V in the list of this coun­try’s 15 most pop­u­lar pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles.

Of course that begs an im­me­di­ate ques­tion: why wasn’t the out­go­ing fourth-gen­er­a­tion CRV there in the first place? Ac­cord­ing to Bell the sim­ple an­swer was be­cause it was get­ting a bit old. It had been on sale in New Zealand since 2012, and even though it re­ceived one sig­nif­i­cant facelift in 2015 it sim­ply didn’t have the goods to keep it com­pet­i­tive against newer medium SUV prod­uct.

But now the fifth-gen­er­a­tion is here, and the com­pet­i­tive­ness has def­i­nitely re­turned.

The new CR-V is built on a new plat­form that helps make the ve­hi­cle longer, wider and taller than the pre­vi­ous model, and this has al­lowed Honda to in­tro­duce a new fea­ture – the choice of seven seats.

Those big­ger in­te­rior di­men­sions also mean rear seat leg-room has been in­creased by 9cm, and there is also more cargo length when the se­cond row seats are folded flat. That’s easier to do – the rear seats fea­ture a new onemo­tion drop-down func­tion to cre­ate a to­tally flat floor.

It sim­ply looks bet­ter, too. While the frontal styling looks rea­son­ably sim­i­lar to be­fore, the rather bul­bous rear de­sign of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion model has gone, re­placed by a much sharper look. Vis­i­bil­ity has been im­proved thanks to nar­rower A-pil­lars, the ve­hi­cle is shod with new-de­sign al­loy wheels, and a new fea­ture is a pow­ered tail­gate that has a pro­gram­mable height func­tion which al­lows users to set the open­ing height to their de­sired level.

The new CR-V is be­ing of­fered in four grades. En­try model is the Tour­ing which is avail­able with front-wheel drive and Honda’s Real Time all-wheel drive, then there is a 2WD model called Sport7 which tells us this is the sev­enseater, and the top model is the AWDS­port Sens­ing which has the high­est level of safety spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

All th­ese ve­hi­cles are pow­ered by the same en­gine. In a clas­sic ex­am­ple of the cur­rent trend of en­gine down­siz­ing, the old 2-litre and 2.4-litre petrol engines have been re­placed by a new tur­bocharged 1.5-litre unit. Es­sen­tially the same en­gine as that aboard the turbo ver­sions of the new Civic, it is rated at 140kW of power and 240Nm of torque, which is su­pe­rior to the pre­vi­ous CR-V’s 2.4-litre en­gine.

And here’s the kicker, which un­der­lines Honda’s con­fi­dence that this new CR-V will en­joy im­proved sales in New Zealand: it hits the mar­ket with low­ered prices.

The 2WD Tour­ing re­tails for $37,900 which is $1000 less than the 2WD S it re­places, while theAWD Tour­ing costs $41,700 which is $1200 less than the oldAWDN model. The 2WD Sport7 re­tails for $44,900 which is $2000 less than the old 2WD Sport, and theAWDS­port Sens­ing’s $47,900 price is a whop­ping $7000 less than the old AWDS­port NT.

Not only that, but Honda NZ says that if the ad­di­tional spec­i­fi­ca­tion the new mod­els carry is fac­tored into the price equa­tion, their value has been im­proved by be­tween $5400 and $12,500.

Lit­tle won­der then that Honda is con­fi­dent of a much im­proved per­for­mance by this new model in the cru­cial medium SUV mar­ket cat­e­gory. At launch the com­pany had al­ready re­ceived 133 pre­orders, with many from own­ers of op­po­si­tion SUVs. Ex­cit­ing times.

The new fifth-gen­er­a­tion Honda CR-V, just ar­rived in New Zealand.

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