If you, like us, have enjoyed the comfort and utility of Honda's CR-V while being a bit annoyed at the lack of vooma in the petrol model, worry no more. The 2.0-litre unit has been blown into the weeds with the introduction of a very competent 2.4-litre engine.
And prospective 2.4 i-VTEC owners will have whining reef drivers to thank for the honour. The 2.0-litre, which was relatively lackluster when tested at the coast, was hopefully underpowered at altitude. Thankfully, having the Swindon plant on speed dial soon cleared up that problem...
Developing 122 kW at 5 200 r/min and 220 Nm at 4 200 r/min (power and torque are up by 11- and 16% respectively over the 2.0-litre unit), this 2.4 i-VTEC unit makes for entertaining transportation.
Apart from the fact that, as evidenced before with the petrol 2.0- and turbodiesel 2.2-litre derivatives, the CR-V's cabin remains wholly comfortable, the bigger powerplant just adds that something extra.
More powerful, as comfortable
Sedan-like comfort levels and the utility of a traditional SUV? Indeed - but now without the exasperating lag in the low-to-mid range and with more than enough accelerative power for quick overtaking manouevres. It also makes for more comfortable cruising.
As before, CR-V makes do with a smooth shifting six-speed manual gearbox, while an "intelligent" five-speed automatic that "familiarises" itself with a particular pilot's driving idiosyncracies is available too.
This particular transmission also features gradient logic control - a boon when barreling down hills and braking on steep descents, where it modulates brake pressure.
Standard, too, is Honda's Realtime four-wheel drive system that operates with a front-wheel bias until slippage is detected, when the rear wheels are automatically coupled. This was highlighted on a series of fast gravel tracks in the Southern Cape where the CR-Vs bumped and bobbed their ways across the landscape with very little dramatics.
Changes to entire CR-V range
It is also worth noting that while the 2.0-litre petrol engine is no more, the entire CR-V range has been overhauled at the same time. Nothing changes on the exterior, although inside the cabin there are significant specification upgrades on both the RVI and RSVI models.
Most notably, the RVI now joins the rest of the range with six airbags, up from two. Active head restraints, Isofix child seat mountings and automatic and selective locking have been added to the model's features list.
RSVI adds a full leather interior, electrically adjustable driver's seat, an all-electric sunroof and rain-sensing windscreen wipers as standard.
Owners of the i-CDTi turbodiesel apparently wanted an even higher grade of specification, and this will now be sold with a full leather interior, electric sunroof, auto and selective locking for doors, rain-sensing wipers and a full-sized spare wheel.
All models now come standard with VSA vehicle stability control and TSA trailer stability control.
The latest changes and additions have necessitated price increases.
2.4 i-VTEC RVi manual - R285 700
2.4 i-VTEC RVi auto - R296 700
2.4 i-VTEC RVSi manual - R319 500
2.4 i-VTEC RVi auto - R330 500
2.2i-CTDi - R338 000
Service intervals are at 15 000 and 10 000 km respectively for petrol and turbodiesel models.
All models are sold with service plans - five-year/100 000 km for the petrols and five-year/90 000 km for the turbodiesel.
All models come with a three-year/100 000 km warranty.