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The latest CR-V drops from R286 000 to R279 000 for the 5-speed manual version, while additional specifications improve its value by R7 500. The 4-speed auto comes in at R290 900.

Significant among the changes is a revised electronically-operated multiplate clutch in the drivetrain which now kicks-in much faster to convert the car from front-wheel drive to 4x4, improving its off-road ability immensely over the previous model.

The car also gets a limited slip differential at the rear to further improve its ability.

Other changes outside include squarer bumpers, a new grilled, and revised headlamp clusters featuring three-beam projector-style lights. The high-mounted taillights now have clear indicator covers and a larger reverse light.

There are 16-inch tyres mounted on new alloy wheels, and bumpers, mirrors, door handles and side mouldings are all colour-coded. Other features include an electric sunroof and a hard cover for the rear-mounted spare wheel.

Climate control

There is also full climate control, along with dual side and curtain airbags, an alarm, leather steering wheel and fuel consumption meter.

Steering wheel mounted cruise control has been included in the manual version, and remains standard in the automatic.

Inside upholstery is of better quality - although we wonder how it will fare under rough use - and other changes include damped grab handles and chrome trimmed vent and heater control surrounds.

Rear visibility is improved by the introduction of "teardrop" type rear seat headrests, which do not obscure rearward vision when fully retracted. Noise insulation in the cabin area has been improved.

The handbrake is incorporated into the dashboard architecture, freeing up space between the seats, where there?s a flip-up/flip down utility tray.

The tandem distance - the measurement between the hip points of front and rear passengers - is 1 007 mm (with the sliding rear seat at the rearmost portion of its 170 mm travel).

Mountain bikes

The CR-V retains its ability to carry a pair of full-sized mountain bikes with wheels fitted thanks to the tumble fold ability of the rear seats.

In normal conditions the CR-V is front-wheel driven, which aids fuel efficiency by not driving the rear wheels.

Left: The CR-V cocks a wheel in the air

However, as soon as the system senses front wheel slippage, the CR-V's Dual Pump technology automatically takes over - even before you realise you need it

This happens more rapidly than the previous version, thanks to an improved, higher-pressure hydraulic control system.

When you return to a more predictable road surface the CR-V reverts to front-wheel drive just as quickly to save fuel.

Sky-high wheel

We drove the CR-V on quite rugged terrain, including a couple of "axle-twisters" that saw one rear wheel high in the sky - and it coped perfectly.

However, we would have liked more torque from the 2-litre i-VTEC engine - at times we had to slip the clutch to get around some of the obstacles, whereas we would have preferred to have been able to creep slowly forward in-gear.

That said, in normal conditions the car is a lively performer, with the standstill to 100 km/h dash in under 10 seconds.

Engine output remains unchanged at 110 kW and 192 Nm.

Included in the price is a three year / 60 000km maintenance plan, a three-year/100 000 km warranty, and a 1-year roadside assistance programme. Service intervals include an oil change every 10 000km with a full service every 20 000 km.

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