A Bim­mer and a yacht; now that’s the ul­ti­mate driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents -

‘It shares plat­forms with the Civic and has liq­uid-filled sus­pen­sion mounts’

Ev­ery time I drive out to Bataan, it’s in the mid­dle of a bloody typhoon. Stand­ing here atop a rock, fac­ing the tem­pes­tu­ous waves whipped up by Typhoon Go­rio, I’m tempted to re­cite Whit­man’s ‘O Cap­tain! My Cap­tain!’ into the wind. Sim­ply sur­viv­ing the five-hour drive here feels like that big of a deal. “The ship has weather’d ev­ery rack, the prize we sought is won...” And what a prize it is. Sit­ting there, wet, cold, and mis­er­able on the gravel, sur­rounded by pho­tog­ra­phers and as­sorted cam­era equip­ment, is the very first diesel-pow­ered Honda CR-V in the coun­try. A sexy thing, its shark-like LED head­lights, pro­nounced fen­der flares, bull­dog stance, and slash­ing rear haunches rep­re­sent­ing a huge im­prove­ment over its slab-sided pre­de­ces­sor. Thank­fully, this story does not be­gin or end with a dead sea­man. But as a sud­den squall nearly bowls us (and half our equip­ment) over, we re­treat to the CR-V’s warm em­brace, just in case. Rain­drops like icy peb­bles come crash­ing down as we close the doors. We are still wet, but no longer cold and mis­er­able.

The CR-V is an aw­fully nice place in which to ride out a storm. The old car had the best legroom in its class. A wheel­base stretched by 41mm gives this model an as­tound­ing 1,025mm of rear legroom. Slide the sec­ond row all the way back and you gain a few fin­gers more still. Slide it part­way for­ward, and you can fit adults with adult-size legs in the third row.

While clev­erly spaced seat rails make for de­cent third-row foot space, the sec­ond row loses the sin­gle-touch tilt-and-tum­ble lever from the pre­vi­ous car—a loss you be­moan when ac­tu­ally try­ing to squeeze into the space be­hind. The roof-mounted A/C and panoramic sun­roof cut into the head­room back here, but it’s far bet­ter ac­com­mo­da­tions than the woe­ful jump seats on the 2002 ‘10-seater’ CR-V. And all that glass presents a lovely view of the gray skies out­side.

Once the rain lets up, it’s time to pop the park­ing brake and roll out. That brake is now a push-but­ton de­vice sit­ting be­side a push-but­ton shifter copped straight from the Honda Leg­end. While flick­ing be­tween Drive and Re­verse this way feels a bit weird, there’s noth­ing weird about the way the CR-V goes down the road. Built on the same plat­form as the new Civic, the CR-V boasts liq­uid­filled sus­pen­sion mounts, float­ing sub­frames, and an ul­tra-rigid chas­sis that’s nearly 60% high-strength steel. This all-wheel-drive SX vari­ant fur­ther boasts an im­pres­sive 208mm ground clear­ance (up 10mm on front-wheeldrive coun­ter­parts), tubu­lar crash bars around the fuel tank, and heavy-duty cast rear sus­pen­sion arms (ver­sus stamped steel on other vari­ants). De­spite the huge 235/60 R18 Miche­lin tires, th­ese im­prove­ments give ex­cel­lent wheel con­trol, and elim­i­nate shimmy and jud­der over deep ruts. It’s a huge leap over the soft-rid­ing pre­de­ces­sor.

A widened track, thick anti-roll bars, and Honda’s Ag­ile Han­dling As­sist sys­tem make short work of the twists and turns of Bataan’s hill­sides, though con­di­tions are nowhere near dire enough to trig­ger the all-wheel-drive sys­tem. The re­cal­i­brated elec­tric steer­ing is sat­is­fy­ingly sharp and firm,

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