Does it make sense for Honda to test waters in India with the CR-V Hybrid at the cost of the diesel engine?
The fifth-generation Honda CR-V debuted in Europe at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show in hybrid and petrol avatars only, unlike the previous generation CR-V, which was available in Europe with a diesel engine as well. With only the petrol and hybrid powertrains announced for Europe, Honda has, reportedly, ditched the diesel engine altogether, which could be owing to a drop in the sales of diesel-powered cars.
The hybrid powertrain in question is the same that Honda offers with the new tenth-generation Accord and the ninth-gen model that is currently being retailed in India. Honda’s Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid system features a 2.0-litre i-VTEC Atkinson cycle petrol engine and two electric motors, mated to an E-CVT (Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission). It puts out same figures as the Accord - max system output is 215PS and fuel efficiency stands at an impressive 20kmpl (4.8l/100km, China-spec SUV).
Can Honda also do the same for India?
Honda showcased the fifth-gen CR-V in India at the 2018 Delhi Auto Expo in February 2018 and is expected to launch it later this year. The new CR-V will be getting a diesel engine and 7-seater option for the first time in India. Diesel motors are still the preferred engine type for SUVs in our country and hence, chances of Honda ditching it seem slim.
But does Honda CR-V Hybrid even make sense for India?
It does, at least, alongside the diesel for now. The new feature-rich, seven-seat CR-V is expected to be more expensive than the current model (Rs 24.39 lakh - 26.68 lakh ex-Delhi) with diesel variants likely to be the dearer ones. A range-topping hybrid model will only make CR-V’s package stronger in the country.
Thanks to being a petrol-only offering for all its life in India, the CR-V has always been a niche product in a pool of diesel SUVs. That said, it could also cash in on the silent hybrid model's diesel-like fuel efficiency coupled with its renowned refinement, fit and finish and low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). And that, along with the CR-V diesel in the lineup for people willing to compromise on NVH and refinement (relatively) would make perfect sense. Moreover, unlike the Accord, the CR-V will be locally assembled in the country and the Hybrid’s prices, if launched, might not be unquestionably high as is the case with the sedan.
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