With CR-V diesel launch, are buyers ‘over the moon’?


Honda couldn’t have chosen a more apt model to launch its foray into diesel engine technology

Honda diehards must have been squirming in their seats prior to the historic launch of the premium Japanese marque’s first diesel-powered automobile in the Philippines. What’s taking Honda so long in introducing their own diesel-powered vehicles?

The agonized waiting ended last Aug. 8 when Honda Cars Philippines Inc (HCPI), Honda’s automobile business unit in the country, unveiled not one, not two, but three variants of the all-new CR-V diesel: The top-of-the-line SX Diesel 9-speed automatic transmission all-wheel drive; the S Diesel 9AT, and the entry-level V Diesel 9AT. All three are powered by the 1.6-liter Earth Dreams Technology-inspired, DOHC i-DTEC diesel turbo engines mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Honda couldn’t have chosen a more apt model to launch its foray into diesel engine technology. The compact SUV’s design first gained global recognition when Honda revised the hood and windshield wipers for its second-generation CR-Vs to make them more pedestrian-friendly, and enabling it to score an excellent three stars in the Euro NCAP impact tests–an unprecedented score for a four-wheel drive off-roader.

Now, after over two decades and on its 5th generation, the all-new diesel-powered CR-V (the 2-liter gasoline variant has also been launched simultaneously) has some lofty expectations to fulfill, thanks to other diesel-powered SUVs and even sedans introduced years before—by rival brands which have had a substantial head start in the Philippine market–sweeping motorists off their feet with the magic of the common rail direct injection engine.

So, as far as actual performance and owners’ feedback goes, we’ll have to wait until early this September when units coming from Thailand are shipped in and delivered to the first buyers.

From a display standpoint, based on what we saw during the launch at the Shangri-La Hotel, here are some pretty exciting features the lucky first owners should look forward to enjoying when they set their CR-Vs in motion:

The exterior layout. The look is definitely bolder and sharper–aided by the shark-fin antenna, tailgate spoiler, chrome rear garnish, chrome door lower garnish and LED tail lamps. And that panoramic sunroof (which opens all the way to the second row) is a definite must-see (pun intended). For those who chose the Passion Red Pearl for the top-of-the-line SX, well, lucky you. The White Orchid Pearl, however, can compete for attention.

Interior space and amenities. There’s plenty of room for the MFD (multifunction display) and the center console. Something new, and something drivers may have to get used to, would be the unusual button electronic gear shift selector, which does away with the familiar shifter knob and lever. Typical of new Honda vehicles would be the Economy drive mode, which optimizes throttle output, transmission, and climate control for better fuel economy.

Another nifty feature would be the AWD torque indicator that shares information about power distribution to the wheels.

Summon six of your family members or friends, as well. See how this 7-seater can manage to fit all of you in. Based on how we tried it out during the launch, Asian-sized occupants wouldn’t feel so cramped, particularly in the 2nd and 3rd rows.

Safety features. The CR-V diesel (particularly the SX variant) is loaded with new safety technologies, and new owners will get to feel or see this for themselves. Be mindful of how the state-of-the-art Honda Sensing works. This include adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow (monitors traffic ahead of you, and adjusts your cruising speed accordingly), lane keep assist system, road departure migration, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and collision mitigation braking system.

But wait, there’s more. Also pay attention to the driver attention monitor (again, pun intended), vehicle stability assist, anti-lock brake system with electronic brake force distribution, agile handling assist, and hill start assist.

Engine power and efficiency. Finally, we get to the heart and soul of them all. Feel the power and note the efficiency of the i-DTEC turbodiesel engine that, on paper, produces a maximum power of 120PS@4,000rpm and peak torque of 300Nm@2,000rpm. Feel how the 9-speed automatic transmission manages the power of a downsized but supposedly more powerful engine. Has it leapfrogged over its CRDi-powered rivals? You be the judge.

For those who still prefer the gasoline-powered variant, the 5-seater, 2.0-liter SOHC i-VTEC CR-V isn’t to be pooh-poohed. The engine, mated to a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) developed also under the Earth Dreams Technology for better fuel efficiency, produces a maximum output of 154PS@6,500rpm and peak torque of 189Nm@4,300rpm.

The wisdom of the pricing of the variants I will leave to market forces. Let me just put the figures out here: The top-of-the line SX Diesel 9 AT AWD goes for P2.049 million; the S Diesel is at P1.759 million; while the V Diesel is at P1.569 million. Note the half-million-peso difference between the SX and the V. The 2.0S CVT gasoline variant is at P1.539 million.

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