With the NZ launch of the all-new, sixth generation Honda CR-V still fresh in my mind, Honda NZ thought it best I spent some more time behind the wheel of not one but two of the model variants. The oh so versatile 7-seater ‘Sport’ and the sportier (yet frugal) RS e:HEV hybrid, who am I to refuse such an offer!
Regardless of whichever model you chose (there are three), the new CR-V boasts a bigger footprint and more spacious cabin, a new platform and much improved technology, however, not only does the RS come with more fit and finish, but it also channels the brand’s sporting pedigree – I guess you can see which oneI preferred.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Sport 7 is a great SUV, with a 1.5L VTEC Turbo Engine (140kW/240Nm), a panoramic sunroof, and 7 leather-appointed, usable seats, it’s just that I don’t need all those seats (don’t have a big family – or enough friends) and I have a more ‘top of the line’ appetite. Plus the RS is only $10k more (sounds even better if you say it fast).
Anywho, in terms of popularity, the CR-V is a close second to the Honda Jazz (Fit) and as far as NZ goes, some of that adoration is due to us being the first country to get the new model, way back in 1995.
On the whole, each generation of the CR-V has grown in size, and this 6th Gen is no different. It’s grown 80 mm in length, 10 mm in width and even the wheelbase is now an extra 40 mm, which means more room for those inside.
The looks have been enhanced too, with a sleeker look on the Sports and a more prominent grille on the RS. What’s more, the RS model comes with RS badging and a blue Honda badge, to let you know it’s a hybrid. The bonnet is more sculpted, the headlights are LED adaptive high-beam and the indicators are sequential.
When it comes to the profile, the A-pillars slope a little bit further, which in turn helps with visibility out front, the feet on the RS are 19-inches and the mirrors and B-pillars are in piano black, while at the rear, the spoiler and shape of the taillights help with the SUV’s aerodynamics.
As I said before, the 7-seater Sports model is more versatile should you have a bigger family, but either way, the boot space in the CR-V is large, with the RS boasting 581L if you push the middle row forward.
Under the bonnet of the RS you get Honda’s clever e:HEV system, consisting of an ICE engine that acts as a generator, and a 1kWh battery that drives the electric motor. All in all you get 135 kW of power and 335 Nm of torque to play with, but more importantly, you get an EV drivetrain feel (the ICE engine doesn’t drive the wheels) without the need to charge – just add petrol and drive.
One of the big draw cards for a Honda SUV is the amount of storage you get, a big 9-litre capacity centre console, big glove box, door bins and cup holders, to name but a few. Another point of note are the rear doors, they open to almost 90-degrees, so ideal for those with baby seats or need more loading space. Aside from the difference in interior trim and seat support, the menus on the infotainment screen differ between the two models, with the e:HEV offering up more data on power delivery and consumption, and as I intimated earlier, the RS just feels superior, more upper class.
The instrument cluster is laid out in a typical Honda fashion, with digital dials in the middle and analog style bars left and right for the fuel level and battery charge indicator (to be honest, you only have to worry about the fuel.One funky addition is the little Honda CR-V image in the centre, it shows the brake lights and indicators as you use them – it’s the small things like this that keep me amused.
When it comes to the drive, the new CR-V assumes the role of an SUV style Civic (although not the Type-R). It sits well on the road and is the type of vehicle that is as happy around the town as it is on long weekends away.
It feels more substantial on the road and the RS in particular feels a little heavier all around, which when combined with its 235 rubber on the wheels just adds to the overall sense of safety. This of course is the perfect segue to tell you that the CR-V also comes with Honda’s suite of driver and safety aids as standard.
There’s very minimal body roll in the corners and the cabin remains quiet, so very little wind or road noise, certainly nothing that the Bose audio system would struggle to keep out. As I said earlier, visibility is the best it’s been, with an additional 4% view through the windscreen (now 96.6-degree), nice big side mirrors, and even the rear view mirror offers plenty of viz.
The Honda Hybrid system does take a bit of getting used to, only insofar as the 2L engine comes on when it so pleases. The best way I can describe it is that the RS is essentially an EV with an onboard generator. So whereas many EVs have a large (upwards of 60kWh) battery on board, the CR-V RS only has a 1kWh battery to drive its electric motor, and that requires a lot of charging. So should you slam your right foot to the floor, the electric motor draws all the power from the battery which inturn draws the power from the ICE engine – this means that the engine is always on. However, if you’re toddling around the town, the electric motor needs less power and therefore the ICE power is intermittent – hopefully that explains it.
The result is that Honda reckons you get a fuel efficiency of around 6.4L/100km, but I only managed to get it down to 7.3. Not bad either way. You can also use the paddles to add extra brake regen if you’re that way inclined, but I chose to concentrate on the way ahead.
Having both the Sport and the RS for a week meant that I really got to know both models and although they both come under the same nameplate they are different animals. If I had a bigger family and was a bit more traditional in my powertrain thinking then the Sport 7 would be my pick, (8.1L/100km), however I don’t and I’m not. More power, more toys and more thrills for me, it’s the RS e:HEV all the way.