We all have dreams, from playing football for England to owning a beachside bar in Key West (maybe that’s just mine), but to most of us, that’s where they remain – just dreams. Not so for Honda motors founder Soichiro Honda. Not only was Siochiro a man with BIG dreams but his visions ultimately became a reality with an automotive legacy that spans across two and four wheels. Luxury and heart-racing sport have been key components to Honda’s success, so it was unsurprising that both are more than evident in the brand’s latest creation the all-new ZR-V – It’s a sweet ride that’s a joy to drive.
Soichiro Honda was a humble engineer who achieved extraordinary things. He was evidently a determined man with a drive and ambition that was fueled by failure, “My biggest thrill is when I plan something and it fails. My mind is then filled with ideas on how I can improve it.”
However, courage and determination aside, it’s Soichiro’s dreams of innovation and success that have been at the core of the brand and something he held dear, “the day I stop dreaming is the day I die.”
Honda NZ’s launch of the all-new ZR-V was held at The Hunting Lodge Winery in Waimauku and ‘Dreams’ was the theme for the day, with countless white balloons and inflatable clouds surrounding the venue’s display screens.
The ZR-V is Honda’s latest creation and although its ride height has it sitting firmly in the SUV category, its sleek design and sedan-style seating position offers a far more sporty appeal. Dimensionally (4.57m long, 1.84m wide and 1.62m tall) it sits between the HR-V and CR-V but it has a unique look and a bold stance that is oh so attractive.
The expressive grille features ten vertical slats with the Honda badge taking pride of place above it, while the headlights are LED with an adaptive driving beam (HNZ first). Angled DRLs sit below the headlights and there are sequential indicators for additional visual appeal.
The ZR-V’s large air curtains ensure good air flow down the side of the ZR-V and when combined with a smooth underbelly and optimised tail spoiler, the sleek SUV slips through the air with the best of them.
Depending on the model (I’ll get to that in a moment) there are two wheel options, a pewter grey or machined finished/Berlina black, but either way, they’re both 18-inches. Of particular note at the rear is the tailgate, not only is it hands free to open, but a push of a button at its base has it closing automatically when you walk away, it’s a nice touch.
Honda NZ has launched with two specific models, the Turbo and the Sport, with the former boasting a 1.5L VTEC turbo/CVT powertrain (134kW/240Nm) and the latter e:HEV featuring a 2L + 2 motor/eCVT combination (135kW/315Nm) that they claim is the equivalent of a 3L V6.
Although they both sound sporty by name, the ZR-V Turbo is the base model ($47k +ORC) and the ZR-V Sport is the top spec ($55k+ORC) and for convenience, I’ll stick with the Sport for most of the SUV’s specs.
The seats are a mix of leather and leather-style finishes and the driver’s seat is 14-way electronically controlled. The two front and two outside rears are heated and in terms of comfort, very easy on the rear end.
Infotainment comes via a 9-inch screen and offers up a raft of apps, 360-degree camera angles and a 14-speaker BOSE sound system. The Instrument cluster is 10.2-inch and as clear as they come, and overall the finish is as expected, really high quality. There are oodles of storage areas and wireless phone charging for the Sport.
The Turbo comes with a more traditional gear selector, while the Sport has a more unique E:HEV Selector that’s really creative in its appearance and use. Both models come with paddles that have been inspired by the NSX, however they control the gears in the Turbo and the regen levels in the Sport. Also, both models come with Honda Sensing (their safety suite) as standard.
In fairness we didn’t get that much time behind the wheel, but I did test out both models, and they both do what they say on the tin. Seating position is great, you feel far more ‘in the car’ than ‘ON the car’. Visibility is good all round with a big windscreen that’s made bigger by the fact that the wipers duck below the eyeline. Stability in the corners is firm and road/engine noise is minimal, in fact I didn’t hear much CVT drone which is a great thing. The steering feels positive and the leather wheel (in the e:HEV) has a lovely upmarket texture.
The more traditional Turbo is quick on the pick up and keeping the foot flat to the floor offers a nice little boost at 80km/h when I assume the VTEC does its VTEC thing. The Sport is a whole different kettle of fish, with push button gear selection, more rapid acceleration and a more joyful drive – not exactly 3L/V6 style but certainly the more exciting of the two.
In addition to being a premium ride, Honda NZ has also added Honda Connect to the ZR-V. It’s an app that (among other things) can remote lock and unlock the vehicle, can start the engine, set the cabin temperature and even find your car in a mall car park. You can set speed limits (should your offspring be driving it), log where the ZR-V has made its last 25 or so trips, run diagnostics and it will even call you/the AA if the airbags or alarm goes off – it’s also gratis for the first 3-years.
As I said, the driving segment was really only just a taste of this sweet new ride, but it certainly grabbed my attention. Even in the less than ideal Auckland rain, the ZR-V left me with a positive experience and one I’m keen to repeat – however, with the first batch already sold out and demand running high, right now I can I can only dream about a follow up drive.