Honda's latest-generation CR-V has been bolstered with the addition of a 2.2 i-CDTi powerplant, which also marks the first time a turbodiesel has been made available for Honda in South Africa.
Poor quality diesel fuel has traditionally meant that Honda's award-winning turbodiesel units have been excluded from the local line-up. But when the introduction of ultra-low sulphur diesel (50 ppm) prompted the green light by Japanese engineers, Honda SA leapt at the prospect of introducing a diesel-powered model in South Africa.
Given the opportunity to jump the queue by intercepting some Ireland-bound consignments also means that local turbodiesel aficionados can get their hands on a model about six months ahead of what was originally planned.
"I hate diesels"
When Honda's chief engineer Kenichi Nagahiro, a known diesel detractor, was tasked with the creation of the manufacturer's first turbodiesel, he set about changing everything he disliked about diesel engines.
The creator of marvels like VTEC and the NSX engine and also the man responsible for the development of the V8 engines used in the Indy Car programme, Nagahiro wanted to create a diesel engine that wasn't as noisy, smelly or dirty as "traditional" engines.
The resultant lightweight all-aluminium engine is constructed using a solid casting process at Honda's Takanazawa facility in Japan.
The four-cylinder common-rail unit with direct injection produces 103 kW at 4 000 r/min and has a meaty peak torque figure of 340 Nm available at 2 000 r/min. Fuel consumption, according to Honda, is 6.5 l/100 km on a combined cycle. Top speed is quoted at 187 km/h. The powerplant is only mated with Honda's six-speed manual transmission, though an automatic is said to be in development.
Apart from the turbodiesel's more robust performance and low-down grunt (and the towing capabilities that go along with it), very little sets this model apart from its petrol-powered derivatives. However, several adjustments have been made beneath the metal to counter the turbodiesel unit's noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
And I can attest that Honda's 2.2 i-CDTi - being introduced here in the CR-V - takes everything you would associate with turbodiesel engines and annihilates it. This unit is whisper quiet with hardly any turbo lag, is relatively high-revving and vibration-free. It's the perfect addition to the generally pleasing CR-V experience.
At idle, there's no shuddering or low-level pitching associated with some turbodiesels and rather than growl, this unit emits a pleasing purr that is really only noticeable in the lower rev ranges. At cruising speeds, the only sound you're likely to hear in the cabin is possible tyre roar from those beefy 17-inchers slapping a rough road surface.
Added safety equipment on the i-CDTi includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSA), Trailer Stability Control (TSA) and a full complement of airbags.
Other differences from the petrol model include a rear parcel shelf that basically splits the luggage area to make loading easier and a space-saving spare wheel.
The turbodiesel CR-V costs R326 900 and comes with a five-year/90 000 km service plan and a three-year/100 000 km warranty. Service intervals are at 10 000 km.