Gloriously dirty

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Text and photos by Aries B. Espinosa

AFTER over two decades — and four generations — of this pioneering compact crossover SUV from Honda, the CR-V finally has gotten some dirt on it. Not because it’s now powered with what our old-timer, sun-baked jeepney drivers once called krudo, the diesel fuel that not so long ago failed miserably in every smoke emission test sprung up by ambush smoke-belching patrols in the Metro, but because this iconic vehicle that has long been a fixture of well-paved city and country roads has finally demonstrated real grit, an admirable measure of toughness, and that willingness and capability to hold its own off the beaten path.

It was this rugged nature of the vehicle that Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) showcased on a ride-and-drive activity held on Jan. 29-30, which used six units of the all-new, fifth-generation, diesel-powered, seven-seat CR-V.

The event’s route, which started from Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, through the North Luzon and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressways, and onto the twisty, narrow roads of Bataan and Subic Bay, was meticulously planned by the joint team of HCPI and the motoring tour crew of George Ramirez. The highlight of the drive was an off-road course along a stretch of beach in a themed resort in Bagac, Bataan, where the top-of-the-line diesel CR-V, the SX Diesel 9A/T AWD powered by a 1.6-liter i-DTEC turbo engine, demonstrated its power, stability, and drive technologies on abruptly changing surfaces and elevations — mud, compact dirt, loose sand and concrete.

At the off-road course, the SX Diesel 9A/T AWD provided a glimpse of its arsenal: The oomph of its 300Nm of torque; the stability of the MacPherson Strut front suspension and the new E-type multi-link setup at the rear; the larger tire size for better grip on all surfaces; the 208 millimeters of ground clearance; the enhanced real-time all-wheel drive system to better manage all surfaces (the system can now transfer 10% more torque to the rear wheels when needed); the safety and driver-assistive feature Honda Sensing with adaptive cruise control and Low Speed Follow, and; the standard safety features such as the vehicle stability assist, hill-start assist, Agile Handling Assist and ABS with EBD to help prevent over- and under-steering on high-speed corners.

mud track

HCPI President and GM Noriyuki Takakura, who was on hand to witness the driving exercises, said: “Today’s test-drive event has allowed us to demonstrate the power, capability and fuel efficiency of the all-new CR-V’s highly anticipated diesel variants, advanced features, and ride comfort along the drive through the different highways and off-road course. This showcases how the all-new CR-V is a strong contender in the growing seven-seat diesel SUV market here in the Philippines.”

Mr. Takakura also revealed sales figures provided by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) that showed HCPI’s remarkable growth in 2017 compared to 2016.

”The introduction of the all-new CR-V [diesel and gasoline variants] greatly contributed to HCPI’s success in 2017. In only five months in the market, the CR-V was able to garner 2,799 vehicle sales since customer deliveries started last September. With this, HCPI set a record-breaking sales performance with a total of 31,758 vehicles sold compared to 23,199 in 2016, a 37% increase, surpassing the 18% industry growth by CAMPI,” Mr. Takakura remarked.

The two-day ride-and-drive event also saw the other diesel variant, the S Diesel 9A/T, showing off its premium and refined interior, flexible legroom and ample headroom, reduced noise, vibration and harshness levels, and flexible cargo area that can accommodate 472 liters of cargo with the third-row seats folded down (expandable to 972 liters with the second and third rows folded flat).

HCPI also released the retail prices of all the variants of the new CR-V under the country’s new taxation scheme. These are: P2.086 million for the SX Diesel 9A/T AWD; P1.835 million for the S Diesel 9A/T; P1.671 million for V Diesel 9A/T; and P1.648 million for the five-seat 2.0 S CVT.