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HomeLEISURE DRIVEREDISCOVERING PREMIUM TRAVEL

REDISCOVERING PREMIUM TRAVEL

HONDA CR-V 1.5 EXCLUSIVE TO THE DRAKENSBERG

Honda launched its all-new range-topping CR-V SUV earlier this year, and, to the surprise of some, the brand flagship breached the R1 million mark for the first time. Although not the first family premium SUV to reach this milestone, the CR-V attracted criticism for its price tag, prompting us to take the new car on a weekend road trip to the Drakensberg to rediscover the magic of the Honda brand.

Has the time come for South African car buyers to finally adjust to the reality that even compact premium SUVs such as the all-new Honda CR-V have evolved to such an extent that, in the future, paying R1 million or more for them will be par for the course? 

We believe so, and looking at the CR-V in particular, a vehicle that has evolved dramatically since it was first launched more than 25 years ago, the advancements in quality, technology, driving comfort, and class-leading safety easily justify its price tag.

To test our theory, we embarked on a weekend journey from the bustling streets of Pretoria to the awe-inspiring heights of the Drakensberg mountains in the top model CR-V 1.5T Exclusive. 

Designed to seamlessly blend rugged capability with refined comfort, the CR-V promises an unforgettable road trip experience.

RUGGED AND SOPHISTICATED DESIGN

Setting our sights on the new Honda CR-V, it’s evident that this compact SUV is a testament to Honda’s dedication to innovation and style, which is worthy of its premium status. With its commanding presence and sleek lines, the CR-V perfectly balances ruggedness and sophistication. From its broad stance to its powerful front end, every aspect of the CR-V design exudes confidence and elegance.

The CR-V’s exterior design is not just about aesthetics but also functionality. The strong horizontal beltline emphasises the vehicle’s increased length and width, while the large, upright grille and standard LED headlights ensure visibility and presence on the road. From the sleek roofline to the signature taillights, every detail of the CR-V’s design serves a purpose, making it visually appealing and practical.

ELEVATING VERSATILITY

Step inside the cabin of the CR-V, and you’ll discover a sanctuary of comfort and user-friendly versatility. With its expansive interior space, premium materials, and upscale touches, the CR-V offers a luxurious environment for both driver and passengers alike.

The wide instrument panel features clean lines and modern accents, while the redesigned seats provide improved support and comfort during long drives. 

Whether navigating city streets or cruising down the N3 highway, the CR-V’s spacious interior ensured we arrived at our destination feeling refreshed and relaxed.

As we discovered during our weekend drive, the CR-V is not just a mode of transportation, it’s a technological marvel. Packed with intuitive and intelligent features, the CR-V keeps you as connected and safe as any of its premium competitors. The CR-V offers seamless connectivity and entertainment for all occupants, from its digital instrument display to its touchscreen infotainment system.

Speaking of all occupants, the CR-V comfortably sits up to seven passengers, with the inclusion of a third row of seats in the new car. Luggage space is also significant, with up to 1,457 litres available with the rear seats folded down to their near-flat position.

UNLEASHING POWER AND PERFORMANCE

As we hit the road towards the Drakensberg mountains, we’re impressed by the performance of the CR-V’s advanced powertrain system, considering that the 1.5-litre four-cylinder powertrain is a fair size smaller than most of its rivals. 

Despite its compact displacement, the big Honda’s turbocharged mill is surprisingly refined, delivering power and efficiency in equal measure through a constant velocity transmission (CVT) that, although our least favoured transmission type, is remarkably quiet in the CR-V. 

With its 140 kW and 240 Nm of torque, the CR-V compares favourably with many of its premium rivals, including the Kia Sorento 2.2CRDi EX+, the Volvo XC60 B5 AWD Plus Dark, and the BMW X3 sDrive20i. With VTEC variable valve timing and a high-efficiency turbocharger, the CR-V delivers robust performance across a broad range of driving conditions – with some lag hampering any hurried departure from a standstill. 

But power is nothing without control, and the CR-V’s advanced chassis and suspension system perfectly balances agility and stability. With its responsive steering and enhanced suspension, the CR-V offers confident handling and precise control in any driving condition.

EXPLORING THE DRAKENSBERG

As we approach the Drakensberg mountains, we’re greeted by a landscape of unparalleled beauty. Towering peaks and lush valleys stretch before us, inviting us to explore their hidden treasures. 

But our journey isn’t just about the destination – it’s about the experiences along the way. From charming towns to friendly locals, every moment spent in the CR-V feels like a new adventure waiting to unfold. 

Throughout our journey, safety is always our top priority. The CR-V’s advanced safety features, including Honda Sensing and an updated version of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, are designed to exceed current and future frontal crash tests, including oblique collisions.

Continuously evolved over the last two decades, the ACE system features a new structure incorporating many new features introduced on the new Civic. This includes a robust upper member constructed of high-strength steel, an A-pillar structure, a side frame and a lower firewall structure, all designed to route crash energy around the cabin, especially in oblique impacts. 

Additionally, side-impact protection has been enhanced to meet new, stricter side-impact standards. A new, stiffer B-pillar and side sills are used, along with more robust door stiffening beams and a stronger rear wheel arch. The body also is designed to route energy into the floor in the case of a rear collision.

UNPARALLELED COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

As our journey unfolds, we delve deeper into the comforts and conveniences offered by the all-new Honda CR-V. 

One of its standout features is its expansive storage and cargo capabilities. The new centre console bin is the largest in its class, providing ample space for storing essentials and personal belongings. Additionally, the storage tray ahead of the shifter is large enough to accommodate two smartphones side by side, keeping them within easy reach while on the go.

For those prioritising comfort, the CR-V delivers with its body-stabilising seats that reduce fatigue and improve posture, especially during long drives. The innovative design of the front seats incorporates multiple internal structures to provide enhanced support across the entire body, ensuring a stable and comfortable seating experience for both driver and passengers.

Furthermore, the CR-V offers a host of premium amenities designed to enhance the driving experience. The CR-V emphasises comfort and luxury, from heated seating for front passengers to standard black leather seats with power adjustment. LED reading lights throughout the cabin provide added convenience, ensuring passengers can easily read or work during nighttime journeys.

INNOVATIVE TECH AND CONNECTIVITY

In the age of digital connectivity, the CR-V stands out with its innovative technology features that redefine the driving experience. At the heart of the CR-V’s tech-savvy interior is its 9″ touchscreen audio system, which offers seamless integration with smartphones and other devices. With wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, drivers can effortlessly access their favourite apps, music, and navigation features without the hassle of cords or cables.

Moreover, the CR-V’s touchscreen interface is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, with large, easy-to-recognise icons and a simplified navigation structure. User-defined shortcuts allow drivers to customise their experience, while machine learning technology anticipates user behaviour and suggests relevant applications for audio, phone, and navigation functions.

But the CR-V’s technological prowess doesn’t end there. Our flagship Exclusive grade boasted a 10.2″ Interactive All-Digital LCD Instrument Cluster, which provides drivers with seamless access to music playlists, navigation directions, and Honda Sensing functions – all from the steering wheel. With customisable areas and clear, high-resolution graphics, the LCD screen enhances the driver’s awareness and control, ensuring a safer and more connected driving experience.

REDEFINING SAFETY STANDARDS WITH HONDA SENSING

Safety is paramount in the design of the Honda CR-V, and the vehicle’s advanced safety features set a new standard for automotive excellence. At the forefront of these safety innovations is Honda Sensing, a suite of cutting-edge technologies designed to mitigate collisions and enhance driver awareness on the road.

One standout feature of Honda Sensing is the Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), which utilises a front sensor camera and radar system to detect potential collisions with vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. In the event of an imminent collision, CMBS can automatically apply various levels of emergency braking to reduce the severity of the impact and minimise the risk of injury.

In addition to CMBS, Honda Sensing includes Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW). Together, these technologies provide comprehensive protection and support, and helped keep us safe during our KwaZulu-Natal road trip.

LAST WORD

With its rugged design, advanced technology, and superior comfort, the CR-V has exceeded our expectations, proving that life’s greatest journeys are meant to be enjoyed in premium style.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © HONDA SOUTH AFRICA

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