A spot of sport - Honda CR-V AWD Sport Premium
Prior to the recent arrival of the revised for 2021 CR-V, the main reason to opt for the top model was its safety fit-out, being the only variant to offer Honda’s suite of active features.
These include AEB, lane keeping, auto high beams and active cruise. However, with the mid-life refresh, Honda has done the good thing and made these standard on all variants. There are other things to tempt you into spending up large on the $51,790 Sport Premium, like the 19-inch alloys, panoramic sky roof, LED lights, privacy glass and leather trim with seat heaters up front.
Along with improved refinement levels thanks to additional sound deadening and chassis modifications (which all revised CR-Vs gain), Honda says it has added sport suspension to the Sport Premium model. The information was pretty light however, only revealing that the SP gains ‘exclusive suspension, steering and electronics settings to ensure the highest levels of comfort and control with the newly equipped 19-inch alloy wheels’. Previously it rolled on 18s. This sports tuning probably has more to do with sway bar settings as the ride quality doesn’t suggest Honda has rammed the dampers with stiffening agents. But you can throw it into a bend and the transition of the weight is better controlled, it doesn’t lean over, nor lurch from corner to curve. It’s a keener steer than we remember. The tyres might generate a mild hum at speed, but make sure it sticks in the bends.
The CR-V’s 1.5-litre turbo (now standard fitment across the range) won’t challenge the traction, as AWD is a feature of the top model. The turbo generates enough power but you’ll never accuse it of having too much. If you’re testing the sportiness of this CR-V Sport Premium, best to go for the Sport mode setting of the CVT trans. It ensures the engine is kept spinning above 2500rpm when you are off the throttle, so that when you step back on, the engine is quicker to perk up. When giving it the lash, it’s more of a Sport when the tacho strip lights up the numbers past 3500rpm, and from 4000 it picks up noticeably as you munch into the meat of the power.
But 98 per cent of the time CR-V is likely to be rambling around town. And compared with the 1.5-litre turbo in the Civic, the engine has been tuned to deliver more low-end torque in the SUV, with much of the 240Nm being on stream before it peaks at 2000rpm. And around that point is usually enough for mooching about in town.
If you’re in a genuine hurry, the turbo can seem lethargic until it hits 3500rpm; it’s not a stop light racer this Sport. But it’ll return between 7 and 8L/100km as an average, depending on how many motorway miles you can include, and only requires 91 octane.
As mentioned, the sports suspension doesn’t ruin the round town ride; it’s still passable given the 19s. CR-V gets a quick steering rack, with bugger-all turns required between the locks, which helps not only when parking but for general ease of use.
Do you need AWD? Probably not. We drove a 2WD version last month and for us urbanites at least, this suffices. There’s minimal torque steer to quell and the benefits of AWD would only be required where snowy weather is a possibility.
Some of the updates inside include a Qi pad, though a decent-sized phone won’t quite fit. There are some easy-to-get-at USB charge points as well, but not the USB C ports newer devices require. But best to leave your cell in one of the generously sized storage locations about the cabin and minimise the distraction. The infotainment system is still a sore point - the less said about it the better - but it does allow for smartphone link up.
CR-V is still a good size, with generous back seat room. The only slight annoyance is the centre seat belt hanging from the roof. It’s big sunroof doesn’t rob headroom however. Load space is a selling point, the boot floor at a low load height, and the area well shaped. Fold the rear seat (split 60/40) and the squabs sink down so that when stowed, you’re presented with a flat load area. And a big one at that; it’s cavernous for this class of vehicle.
It’s always nice to go for the top model, but if your budget doesn’t allow, there are many things going for the $39,990 Touring, which is now a great value machine given the specification they have thrown at it, including the 1.5 turbo engine.
Model Honda CR-V AWD Sport Premium Price $51,790
Engine 1498cc, IL4, T/EFI, 140kW/240Nm
Transmission CVT, on-demand AWD
Vitals 8.76sec 0-100km/h, 7.4L/100km, 168g/km, 1576kg