Make cars desirable and the buyers will come - to paraphrase Kevin Costner in that magical baseball movie, Field of Dreams.
We all know that our first reaction to a car is a visual one — as in it has to trigger in the beholder that all-important “wow” factor. This response may be limited to supercars, as in the sharp intake of breath that follows a sighting of a white Lamborghini Gallardo with black graphite wheels.
A Lambo like that carried probably the biggest wow factor for me out of all the cars I have driven over the years. But in the real world of cars — that is, the world that most motorists populate — I think it is still essential that designers go out of their way to make cars desirable: remember, a little of what you fancy does you good!
This does not mean that the prerequisite is that the car is flashy. Beautifully designed cars today are thin on the ground because most of them follow 21st century design lines common to all. The distinctive scoops and curves for many of the world’s cars devised by the Italian design company Pininfarina is a “look” that has become the benchmark for car design.
Today you could line up a row of superminis of various makes and they would have design lines familiar and repeated in each model, however differently they are badged.
The Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment has gone from a niche market to a full-blown, highly lucrative mass market in a couple of decades. There was a time not so long ago when some of these same-named SUVs were pretty naff looking. They probably had the substance — reasonable engines and engineering plus passable mechanical parts - but they most certainly did not have the style.
That shortcoming in the SUV segment has now been rectified with some cracking looking and very desirable cars on the market today.
I count the new Honda CR-V among these new smarter SUVs. Now the CR-V has baggage - it was introduced as far back (in modern car terms) as 1995. It has proved a winner for Honda, selling some five million CR-Vs worldwide since the mid-Nineties.
Winning formula or not, I think the CR-V was well due a new look. And I think what designers for the Japanese carmaker have at last done is make the new 2014 CR-V a motor car that people will want to buy.
To repeat my version of the Costner mantra, make them desirable and buyers will etc, — and Honda has done just that in this new generation CR-V. This SUV has a bit of swagger about it, a bit of self-confidence, a certain rakish style that is imperative in today’s market. All this adds up to a confident stab at a difficult and competitive segment. And just beneath this new attractive exterior, the CR-V is a very good car.
The test car, a CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SR 2WD manual came in White Orchid Pearl. I am not saying that the colour did the trick for me but it gave the car a seriously sexy look that might have been a bit wanting in CR-Vs of the past.
But the new show did not stop at the outside: the interior too was luxuriously comfortable and appealing for a car whose top-of-the-range model costs just on £34,000. You could be expected to pay considerably more for a car with this kind of class.
Honda has come up with the marketing line for the CR-V — “reliable, capable, reassuring”. This appeals to those that have come to respect Honda’s good name for quality. I would add to those three words, the words “stylish and desirable” with regard to the CR-V, which is exactly the direction Honda should be going with all of its models.
Car tested: Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SR 2WD Manual
lOn-the-road-price: £27,815, includes pearlescent paint, £500
l Safety: 5-star EuroNCAP rating
lCR-V is available with 1.6 i-DTEC Earth Dreams Technology and 2.2 i-DTEC diesel engines as well as the 2.0 i-VTEC petrol. Plus with a choice of 2 and 4 Wheel Drive versions.
l Economy: 60.1 mpg (combined cycle)
l 18in Alloy Wheels
l Privacy glass
l Premium audio system with DAB
l Heated front seats
l Half leather and Alcantara
l Bi-High intensity discharge headlights