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    Honda Elevate First Drive Review

    Authors Image

    Bilal Ahmed Firfiray

    52,743 Views
    Honda Elevate Right Front Three Quarter
    Honda Elevate Right Front Three Quarter
    Honda Elevate Right Front Three Quarter
    Honda Elevate Right Front Three Quarter
    Honda Elevate Right Front Three Quarter
    Honda Elevate Right Side View
    Honda Elevate Right Side View
    Honda Elevate Right Side View

    Why would I buy it?

    • Comfortable to live with
    • Easy-to-drive, no-fuss SUV
    • Spacious and practical cabin

    Why would I avoid it?

    • Plastic quality in some areas isn't on par
    • Lack of powertrain choices
    • New-age features are given a miss

    What is it?

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The Honda Elevate comes as the eighth offering in India that you can consider in the highly competitive C-SUV segment. Based on the City, the Elevate has its work cut out for it. But Honda claims a lot of engineering has gone into the Elevate. And there's surely a steer amongst car buyers seeing Honda finally entering the ring. Before the launch and sales commence in September, we spent time with it to see if the Elevate is a case of 'better late than never' or 'too little, too late'.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    In terms of appearance, the Elevate's design took some time to grow on me, which was unexpected. The front looks imposing with its upright, squared-off grille and flat bonnet, but it’s the rear that caught me off-guard as it appeared to be smaller than it actually is. In fact, the Elevate matches and even outsizes its rivals. But I realised the proportions are well sorted.

    How's the cabin of the Elevate?

    Dashboard

    It’s a characteristic Honda cabin as soon as you step inside. The front seats are borrowed from the City and are immensely comfortable. The seating ergonomics are also spot-on, just like the sedan. Not only do you get great visibility all around, but the controls like the gear lever, AC knobs, touchscreen, and even cupholders are also easy to reach, even when driving.

    Front Row Seats

    You still have those Honda-specific shortcomings – the phone isn't visible when kept on the charging tray, the slots next to the handbrake are barely useable, and the floating touchscreen (although new) isn't something you can flaunt. But on the upside, there's a nice wooden insert on the dash, soft-touch materials all around, and a useable armrest space. We also liked the meaty steering wheel (again from the City) with many buttons on it as it feels just right for the Elevate's stance.

    Second Row Seats

    Despite 220mm of ground clearance, getting in the second row is quite easy. Honda has managed to make the seat of the right height and the wide-opening doors work in its favour. Once inside, there is plenty of legroom on offer even if the front seats are pushed all the way back. With scooped headroom, large window area, and rear-quarter glass you get a sense of space despite the absence of a panoramic sunroof. Again, the seats here are comfortable, offering good cushioning along with an adjustable headrest. For practicality, rear passengers get segmented seatback pockets, door pockets, AC vents, and a foldable armrest with cup holders. Sitting three abreast here would be a squeeze but not necessarily inhumane. And the middle passenger also gets a soft backrest, which is surprisingly nice.

    Bootspace

    Lastly, the bootspace at 458 litres, is best-in-class. It is also quite useable with a squared-off space offering a deep length and little to no intrusions. We stowed four cabin-sized bags and there was still plenty of room to spare. You do get 60:40 split seats here, but they don't fold completely flat. I still wish that Honda would have offered their trademark ‘magic seats’ in the Elevate.

    Infotainment System

    As for the touchscreen, it's simple but basic with just a shortcut panel for what you'd need. You do get wireless phone integration though. The feature list isn't very long but ticks all the practical ones you'd use on a day-to-day basis like auto AC, push-button start, auto headlamps, auto-dimming IRVM, sunroof, Honda's lane watch camera, and ADAS. Some feel-good features commonly offered like a panoramic sunroof, electric seats, a 360-degree camera, and ambient lighting are given a miss.

    How is the Elevate to drive?

    Right Front Three Quarter

    In a segment where you get diesel, turbo-petrol, strong hybrid, and AWD, Honda is sticking with just one engine option and two gearbox choices for the Elevate. It’s the familiar 1.5-litre iVtec from the Honda City. As expected, it is extremely silent and vibration-free when idle. On the move, the charm of this naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine is felt as it picks up revs nicely and linearly.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Although the peak power is higher up in the rev range, the peak torque comes in at around 4,400rpm. So, you never need to wring the engine all the way to the redline to get the most out of it. The strong low and mid-range grunt is ample enough for everyday driveability as it’s very tractable.

    Right Side View

    The engine also sounds fantastic, natural, and pure compared to any forced-induced counterpart. But the Elevate is 100kg heavier than the City. So, don’t expect quick acceleration timings and a large grin every time you slam on the throttle. Rather, the Elevate is all about smooth and comfortable driving, be it in the city or cruising on the highway.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Complementing the engine is the six-speed manual we drove for this review. The clutch travel is smooth and light. And the gear action, although not very slick, has a good mechanical feel to it. Even if you are in a gear too high, the engine’s low-end grunt won’t let the engine stutter. We drove over steep inclines and around twisting roads, and this powertrain managed to hold a steady climb in third gear thanks to its strong low-end grunt. This means there’s no need for continuous gearshifts, thus inducing less fatigue when you have to spend long hours behind the wheel.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    As for the steering, it has a good weight to it. It’s not light or feels highly assisted. But it’s not particularly quick either. So around winding roads, it requires a more turn-in from the driver. However, the steering in itself is linear and progressive and the steering returnability is equally sweet. Honda has also set up the Elevate to offer a comfortable ride. It’s pliant and manages to round off sharp road irregularities nicely.

    Right Side View

    There’s a good amount of suspension travel absorbing undulations but this also results in some amount of body roll. Over speed breakers or bumps, you might notice vertical movements before it settles down. But it's far from making the occupants uncomfortable, even when cruising at triple-digit speeds over various road surfaces.

    Should you buy the Elevate?

    Front View

    The Honda Elevate comes in as homemade dal-rice in a market full of shawarmas and momos. It’s comfortable, easy to drive and will be a good companion in the long run. The Elevate won’t excite you as much as, say, a spicy/cheesy taco. But the Elevate would satiate your hunger without you having to think twice about calories or fats.

    Right Side View

    When it arrives in September, Honda could price it on par with the City (at least the introductory pricing). It would surely be popular amongst Honda purists who didn’t have many choices of late. But buyers would find the Elevate to be safe and reliable, while also being handsome to look at, spacious and practical on the inside, and easy to drive. It might not offer a lot of character or wow you much, but will always be easy to live with. The Elevate arrival then, is surely ‘better late than never’.

    Rear View

    Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi

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