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New B-segment crossover joins market

DRIVEN | Honda aims to Elevate its stock

Brenwin Naidu Motoring editor, reporter and presenter
The Honda Elevate is assertive without being polarising.
The Honda Elevate is assertive without being polarising.
Image: Supplied

Could the Elevate be the product that Honda needs in order to boost its SA volumes?

We headed to Cape Town for the day to test the latest addition, over sweeping mountain roads and through blustery weather conditions.

So, it was that we caught the 6am red-eye flight out of OR Tambo International to evaluate the new Honda. That meant arriving at 5am. Which meant leaving the house at 4am. Which meant barely snoozing.

In fairness, being presented with a product that appears rather well-resolved makes the task of a sleep-deprived car critic a little easier.

From the outset, there is no denying that the Elevate is an attractive vehicle. It has the right proportions and the ideal mix of cues suited to the genre, but without appearing contrived, over-the-top.

It is 4,312mm long; 1,790mm wide and 1,650mm tall. Ground clearance is quite decent, at 199mm. Honda is especially proud of the luggage capacity and we can see why: 458l is hugely impressive, given that this is a B-segment product.

Looking at the claimed unladen weight of 1,216kg also gets one thinking: this is a relatively hefty vehicle. That translates into quite an assured, surefooted feel on the road, as we would learn.

But you should keep your hopes in check for the powertrain. Were you expecting a turbocharged-petrol or something?

Interior quality is difficult to fault.
Interior quality is difficult to fault.
Image: Supplied

Being a car designed for global, emerging markets, the brief was to keep things largely uncomplicated. That means the proven 1.5-litre, normally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol serves in both Comfort and Elegance model grades.

The Comfort makes use of a six-speed manual and the Elegance offers a continuously variable transmission (CVT). There was a Comfort grade present but we were told we could not drive it. We look forward to testing it at some point.

The Comfort starts at R369,900. Fare is pretty basic, including two airbags, four speakers, steel wheels with covers and an interior with fabric upholstery. Thankfully it has stability control and traction control too. 

You may as well get the Elegance for R429,900; replete with just about everything the average buyer wants. That includes alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, six airbags, six speakers, automatic headlights, wireless smartphone charging, even a sunroof. Another nifty feature we discovered after our midday coffee stop was remote starting, initiated via the key fob.

Infotainment duties are handled by an eight-inch screen (same as the Comfort); which works as well as can be expected. But the Elegance has a partially digitised instrument cluster in addition.

On the road, the Elevate feels like a grown-up product. The suspension dealt with varying Western Cape undulations sufficiently well, while noise insulation was not found to be lacking. Perceived interior quality is high, with upmarket textures and a solid feel from an assembly perspective. It exudes the substance of a true Honda.

And if you drive the Elevate in the manner that the average owner would (leisurely); then your complaints might be kept to a minimum. But we should obviously mention that coastal altitudes have a more flattering effect on performance. Up in Johannesburg, with a full load, the 89kW/145Nm is likely to perform differently.

The CVT is not bad, as far as gearboxes of this variety go. Claimed consumption is 6.1l/100km, but our car settled around the 8l/100km by the time we were finished though to be fair, we were not driving with particular care for efficiency and encountered severe traffic on more than one occasion.

Pricing on both models includes a five-year/200,000km warranty and four-year/60,000km service plan.

Neat proportions conceal large luggage compartment.
Neat proportions conceal large luggage compartment.
Image: Supplied

The B-segment crossover market is hotly contested. The Elevate has no shortage of rivals, a great number of which undercut it in price, while offering punchier turbocharged engine options.

But in the Honda context of things staying mindful of long-standing brand faithfuls it makes complete sense.

This would serve the growing family wanting to get out of their Jazz or Fit and into something with superior ride height, plus extra space.

It would appeal to the aged CR-V owner who might be seeking to downsize, but without sacrificing the quality and overall experience that the Honda brand has delivered.

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