NEW HONDA CR-V

Clever hybrid tech is a major drawcard for the top-ranking model in compelling new CR-V line-up.

Some mild electrification has made its way into the sixth-gen Honda CR-V, and to good effect, but you need to commit to the high-grade RS variant to experience it. The good news is that the RS e:HEV is competitively priced at $67k, or $14k above the Sport-badged entry point with its more modest 1.5-litre petrol-turbo and all-wheel drive.

There’s a lot to get your head around with the hybrid powertrain so salesfolk will have their work cut out in the showroom explaining the respective functions of the electric generator, the electric propulsion unit and the electronically-controlled ‘fixed-gear’ CVT.

Turning the generator is a familiar two-litre ICE unit designed around the Atkinson-cycle. Paired with all the electrified hardware, you end up with a very healthy (and torque-rich) combined output of 135kW and 335Nm. Honda’s so-called Linear Shift Control means the CVT auto can give the drivetrain a fairly conventional feel and you have wheel-mounted paddles to adjust the level of energy regen if you choose.

But all that most customers need know is that the system works well, it’s very efficient, and the RS badge (unlike entry Sport, perhaps) is not misplaced. Almost 1800kg moves briskly when required with a 0-100km/h sprint below eight seconds, and the potential return of 6.4L/100km is petrol hatch territory.

Elsewhere, we came away impressed by the versatility on offer, some added driver appeal when piloted with gusto, and obvious quality and durability that make even this top-flight RS appear good value. The design is cohesive inside and out, the CR-V now adopts a strong stance and it looks good to our eyes from any angle. Once ensconced, you can’t argue with full-leather upholstery and a 12-speaker Bose system. Rear-seat passengers will appreciate the 40mm wheelbase stretch and the fact that rear seats slide and recline. The sense of security is first-class with a comprehensive suite of driver assistance tech and 11 airbags.

Minor reservations? Tall drivers could be disappointed by meagre telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel. The 19-inch wheels fill the arches quite well but the ride is on the firm side and the steering feels a bit numb rather than crisp and communicative, but that’s mid-size-plus SUVs for you. And the tyres are broad, so expect tyre roar to intrude on coarse chip seal. As for the black-on-black-on-black theme for our test car, it is probably ill-advised but the RS did look great when beautifully groomed for collection…

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HONDA CR-V RS

ENGINE 1996cc 4-cyl turbo

POWER 135kW @ 6100rpm

TORQUE 335Nm (with e-motor)

TRANSMISSION CVT auto

DRIVETRAIN Front-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.70m

WEIGHT 1770kg

WHEELS 19-inch alloy

TYRES 235/55 (f, r)

0-100km/h 7.9 secs

FUEL CLAIM 6.4L/100km

PRICE from $67,000

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