The SUV segment in the Indian market has seen an exponential growth, mirroring the global trend. And frankly, Honda India has been surprisingly absent from this segment and missing out on a significant piece of action. Sure, it had the WR-V, which sold quite well, but, then, it wasn’t really a proper SUV. So now, to change this, Honda has come up with the made-for-India Elevate, which is set to be launched in September, just before the festive season begins in India. Now, with the well-established players like the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos in the upper segment, and the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota Hyryder catering to the value segment, the following question comes to mind: does the Elevate have a chance of success in the Indian market? Well, we spent a long day in rainy Udaipur to find out exactly that.
Honda Elevate Review: Solid Presence
One look at the Elevate is enough to tell you that it has quite a pleasing design. I must add that Honda’s design team has done a tremendous job. The big grille gives the Elevate an imposing look, and the restrained use of chrome also helps here. And at just over 4.3 metres long, the proportions of the Elevate are very well balanced, well complemented by the 17-inch wheels on the top-of-the-line ZX variant – the one we tested. The headlights and taillights are both LEDs, with the latter featuring a full width look; however, only the side elements are illuminated. With its large doors and large glasshouse, the Elevate cuts a pleasing figure, and I think most people will like how it looks.
Step inside the Elevate’s cabin, and you are in for a pleasant surprise. The elegant look of brown leather on the seats, dashboard, and doors immediately catch your attention. Everything inside exudes quality, the levels of which are on par with, if not better than, the best in the segment. Both front and rear seats are large and exceptionally comfortable – in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are the best-in-segment. However, that’s something we’ll confirm once we get our hands on the competition for a direct comparison. Overall, the design of the interior is quite simple and clutter free – not as flashy as its competitors. But the overall quality levels are excellent, and even the way the doors close exudes a sense of solidity and finesse.
Honda Elevate Review: Hits and Misses
Now, given the massive levels of standard equipment that its competitors offer, it would be natural to have a lot of expectation from the Elevate, and in this aspect, while the Elevate hits some marks, it also misses a few. Our top-spec test car had Level 2 ADAS as standard, which worked quite well and was not overtly intrusive. Honda also seems to have upped its safety game with a strengthened structure of the Elevate. And while Honda hasn’t mentioned anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are aiming for a 5-star safety rating for the Elevate in crash tests.
The Elevate also gets climate control, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as digital screens for both multimedia and the instrument cluster. All of the other equipment that you would expect from a well-equipped SUV is also present on the Elevate. However, you do miss out on some features that the competition offers – standard sunroof instead of a panoramic one, no ventilated seats – but I think that should not be too much of a deal breaker for most people. Interior room is also quite good, with the capability to seat six-footers and even taller passengers in the rear seat with ease. At the same time, with its 2,650mm wheelbase, the Elevate also offers a large boot, which should make road trips or airport runs a breeze.
Honda Elevate Review: Petrol only
One of the surprising aspects about the Elevate is that for now it will be available only with a petrol engine, which is surprising to me, considering that in the City and other cars, Honda has readymade Hybrid technology also available. But due to packaging, and I suspect pricing reasons they dropped the Hybrid option, and by 2025, Honda will launch an EV variant of the Elevate in the Indian market. The current engine is a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC unit that comes with the option of a six-speed manual and CVT automatic gearbox options. Due to a paucity of time I could only test the CVT variant, and to be honest, with its 119bhp and 145Nm, I was a bit apprehensive about how the Elevate would perform.
Now, long-time readers will know my disdain for CVT gearboxes – I hate the rubber band effect – but in this case, the Elevate surprised me quite a bit. Sure, the rubber band effect of the gearbox has not been totally eliminated, but this is by far one of the best CVT gearboxes that I’ve sampled in recent times. The engine also performs well, and whether it is in urban traffic or on the highway, the Elevate drives really well. You get a decent amount of the feedback from the steering, and high-speed stability is also quite good. But, while typically most Honda products are very enthusiast friendly, the Elevate is a bit conservative. Sure, the engine revs well, makes a nice sound and the Elevate is quite responsive to drive, but if you’re a petrolhead with a need for speed, the Elevate is not for you. Some of its competitors offer up to 40bhp more from their engines, so this is aimed more at the chauffeur driven client or customers who are not in a tearing rush to get somewhere. Mind you, it’s not slow, and is very pleasing to drive, but pedal to the metal is not the Elevate’s jam.
Honda Elevate Review: Verdict
In a nutshell then, the Elevate does some things really well – it’s spacious, comfortable, has great seats, big boot and feels like a very well-built product. At the same time, it drives very well and offers a mature experience to the occupants, even the audio system sounds quite good. I also think the Elevate is very maturely styled – inside and out – and customers will quite like it. Of course, the Honda loyalists – and there are many of them – will instantly take to the Elevate, but there are a couple of flies in the ointment. One, it does miss out on a couple of features that would’ve been a good addition – such as ventilated seats – and the other elephant in the room will be its pricing. If Honda can price the Elevate well – read as competitive and not overshooting its competition – I think customers in the market will have a very competent offering that will give them excellent space, decent driving appeal, and most importantly the famed Honda name. All we have to do now is to wait till September when Honda announces the pricing of the Elevate and also starts deliveries.
- Honda Elevate
Engine: : 1,498 CC / In-Line 4
Fuel: : Petrol
Transmission: 6-speed Manual / CVT
Power: 119bhp @ 6,600rpm
Torque: 145Nm @ 4,300rpm
X-Factor: Honda finally gets into the SUV game with a product that has all chances to be a sales hit!