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Honda New Zealand is continuing its resurgence this week with the launch of its eagerly awaited Civic Type R, the Civic hatchback range and a next-generation CR-V medium SUV.
It is the first time the company has sold the insanely quick and track-ready Type R in this country. The first shipment of 30 cars has already been sold.
The Type R is being promoted as part of the Civic line-up that now includes three new hatchback models to join the sedan models introduced a year ago.
However the CR-V is likely to become the company’s biggest-selling model in this country, and is now available with either five or seven seats.
The CR-V aims to be sporty and spacious, and to express “functionality in a modern way”, with the company claiming benchmark steering precision, and the highest level of quality and driving refinement.
It is one of Honda’s most important models, and is likely to eventually take over from the successful smaller HR-V SUV as the brand’s biggest-selling model in this country.
Honda has produced a CR-V just 15mm higher than the previous model, and 35mm wider. However it looks much larger than its predecessor, which sold out in New Zealand showrooms in March.
The new seven-seater models have a third row of seats placed above the full-sized spare tyre compartment.
Using a series of manoeuvres, the back row is pulled up into place, or folded down to make way for more storage space in the SUV.
With the thirdrow down, the CR-V has 1880mm of flat floor storage space, and a load capacity of 100kg.
Four models are available.
The entry-level CR-V Touring two-wheel-drive will sell for $37,900; the CR-V AWD Touring for $40,900; the CR-V 2WD Sport 7 will be priced at $44,900; and the top-of-the range CR-V AWD Sport Sensing model will sell for $47,900.
Among the standard specifications across all models is a new 1.5-litre DOHC VTEC turbo engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, an electric tailgate, an in-built navigation system, keyless entry and an engine stop/start button.
Photo / Libby Law
All models have cruise control, intelligent automatic headlights and LED daylight running lights.
They also have a multi-angle reversing camera, a lane-watch camera, hill start assist and a walk-away lock function which automatically locks the vehicle if the driver walks away with the key in his or her pocket.
The new engine puts out 140kW of power at 5400 rpm, and 240Nm of torque.
Honda says it does this by improving turbine performance, with the new motor having nine turbo blades rather than seven in the Civic.
Honda says there are significant improvements in steering and handling, and the new models are less noisy inside the cabin, which also has less vibration than its predecessor.
A 80km drive through part of the Waikato this week revealed an agile CR-V, with precise steering and a surprisingly smooth progression through the six-speed CVT automatic gearbox.
Photo / Libby Law
The new design means the front corners of the CR-V are visible from the driver’s seat, which is unusual in modern vehicles that favour designs that slope down away from the driver’s sight.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent, helped by thinner A pillars.
The vehicle has bold wheel arches, a long hood with an aerodynamic front-end, a short rear overhang, and increased ground clearance compared with its predecessor.
The general manager for marketing for Honda New Zealand, Nadine Bell said the third and fourth generation CR-Vs had been developed mainly for the North American market, where they had been particularly successful.
However the fifth-generation CR-V had been developed globally, with more muscular styling and improved performance and comfort.
The new models would be available in seven colours — passion red, white, silver, black, olive, blue and modern steel.
Honda New Zealand was targeting 1500 sales in the remaining eight months of the financial year, and aimed to sell around 2000 units during the next 12 months.
Photo by John Cowpland
The Type R builds on Honda’s motorsport heritage, and is described by the company as “the perfect sports machine for the road and the track”.
It is the sixth generation of the Type R, and the first to be offered by Honda New Zealand.
Previous models have been specially imported.
The new model is wider, longer and lower than its predecessors, has short overhangs and a muscular appearance.
Honda says a new single mass flywheel coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox reduces clutch inertia weight by 25 per cent, and combines with a 7 per cent lower final gear ratio to improve response under acceleration.
The gearbox’s rev-matching function smooths shifts, eliminating undesirable transmission ‘shock’ associated with excessive or insufficient revving.
Photo by John Cowpland
Inside the car are red sports seats and an aluminium gearshift. Three driving modes, comfort, sport and +R, set the car up to perform on the race track.
Peak power output from the Type R’s 2-litre VTEC turbo engine is 228kW at 6,500rpm, and peak torque is 400Nm.
Honda says the Type R will race from zero to 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 272km/h, making it the fastest accelerating and the quickest car in its class.
Many of the technological advances available on the Type R have been incorporated into the new Civic Hatch models, which start with the Civic SX Hatch, the Civic SX Sport and the top of the line RS Sport Turbo.
Driven is road testing the Civic Type R, the Civic Hatch and the CRV in coming weeks.