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We had a chat with Koji Hirano, Assistant Large Project Leader of the 2017 Honda CR-V, and found out why it's an SUV buyers will definitely want to consider.

19 Sep 2017

Introduced in Japan in 1995 as a concept, the CR-V was Honda's first in-house designed Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) by Hiroyuki Kawase. It's Honda's mid-range utility vehicle, which sits above the HR-V in the marque's lineup. In Singapore, the CR-V that enjoyed the most success was the third iteration 2007 model, which was a common sight on our roads in the last decade.

However, the CR-V is a name that's been pretty quiet in the ever growing SUV segment for quite a few years now. In its dearth, rival models like the Mazda CX-5 and the Subaru Forester have been gaining popularity, but all that should change with Honda's all new 2017 CR-V. This time around, the CR-V hews closely to Honda's winning formula and boasts some key improvements, namely a new downsized turbocharged engine and the option of seven seats.

We managed to meet up with 54-year old Koji Hirano, Assistant Large Project Leader of the new car, who also developed the Honda S2000 powertrain. He explained to us in detail how Honda has improved the CR-V to make it once again a segment leader. Here are four of our favourite aspects of the car, which should entice potential car buyers.

The new car is slightly longer, wider and taller than the previous generation CR-V and has the option of seven seats
1. New offering

You can now opt to have a CR-V that's able to seat seven people in total.

This is the first time that a CR-V has more than five seats, and it joins the Nissan X-Trail in playing the 2-3-2 formation. Hirano-san revealed that the decision for a seven-seater is backed by very strong demand in Asia.

It wasn't simply just upsizing the five-seater car's dimensions, either. A ton of ingenious nip and tucking, such as lowering the base of the car, a large split cargo area and flexible seating was done to ensure that a seven-seater configuration could fit in the same frame as the five-seater, while remaining to be spacious and comfortable.

Both the second and third bench are reclinable; with the former also being able to slide fore and aft, and tumble fold out of the way to provide easier access to the third.

A maximum power output of 190bhp and 243Nm of torque is available from the CR-V's 1.5-litre turbocharged engine
2. Smaller engine

The CR-V is the first Japanese car in the segment to be powered by a turbocharged engine of this capacity. Compared to the naturally aspirated 2.4-litre engine of its predecessor, this new turbocharged 1.5-litre offers the same amount of power, but more torque and more importantly promises better fuel economy.

The CR-V's new engine is closely related to the L15B7 in the Honda Civic. However, thanks to a larger turbocharger and a more free-flowing intake and exhaust system, Honda has managed to bump power figures up for the CR-V to 190bhp and 243Nm, helping the five-seater and seven-seater cars sprint from 0-100km/h in just 9 and 9.4 seconds, respectively.

It's the most powerful production example of this engine family to date by Honda and Hirano-san believes that with advancements in technology, even more power can be extracted from this 1.5-litre unit in time to come.

The system measures the frequency and severity of steering inputs to gauge the driver's level of awareness
3. Safety systems

The all new CR-V is the first Honda here to have the Driver Attention Monitor, a safety system that alerts you and recommends a break should your driving behaviour suggest that you are tired.

When driving, the system studies the input from the electric power steering to measure both the frequency and severity of the driver's adjustments, to gauge his or her level of awareness.

Other safety features include a Honda LaneWatch, a blindspot monitoring system found also on the Civic and only available on the seven-seater CR-V, and Vehicle Stability Assist, Honda's version of Electronic Stability Control.

Unfortunately, the Honda Sensing suite found in the Honda Legend, which features Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, isn't yet available on the CR-V here.

Hirano-san says Honda's determination to put some excitement back into its products manifests in the CR-V with excellent chassis dynamics and sharp steering
4. Improved driving

Apart from the powerful turbo engine, Honda has also done other things to ensure that CR-V owners enjoy the driving experience. According to Hirano-san, while the overall product was targeted to be as all-rounded a package as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda looked to the BMW X3 for dynamical inspiration.

In that sense, CR-V owners-to-be can expect a new steering system, which offers a much more direct, precise and communicative experience than the outgoing model, improved handling thanks to revised suspension and chassis configurations, and also stronger braking performance. At the same time, the cabin of the car has also been designed to be more driver-focused than before.

In doing all that, has Honda really been able to create a CR-V that's as fun to drive as the BMW X3? Only a proper road test will tell, so stay tuned to our Car Reviews section next month to find out!

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