Honda Elevate CVT replaces our 2017 Maruti S-Cross: Ownership review

Our garage, therefore, makes me happy now; this Elevate and the XUV300 TurboSport.

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Our 2017 S-Cross Sigma with the 1.3L MJD engine has been replaced by a golden brown Honda Elevate ZX CVT in October 2023. The replacement was occasioned by the fact, primarily, that my father was getting tired of driving a manual around town on a daily basis. Our garage, therefore, makes me happy now; this Elevate and the XUV300 TurboSport (I’ve written about that here: (Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport | Ownership Review).

Here's what I think of the Elevate.

  • The much-marketed lane watch camera is useful but really isn’t as useful as you think it might be. The number of use cases is too few – going close around a kerb/ footpath, changing lanes in particular circumstances, and some kinds of parallel parking. However, in the parallel parking, it doesn’t come on automatically and I haven’t actually tried using it, because the reverse camera is on mostly. In the darkness, the lane watch camera doesn’t deal very well with headlights and you see more glare than video. We picked the ZX for the 6 airbags, and this is a nice feature to have which I’d have been happy without. The reverse camera is satisfactory.
  • Considering that I do most of my driving on a really torquey small-capacity turbo petrol, it took me a bit to understand that the 1.5 i-Vtec isn’t as sensitive in terms of fuel efficiency to driving style. If you don’t understand this, you tend not to get the most out of the engine, particularly with the CVT gearbox, and begin to believe that the engine simply lacks torque in the bottom and middle. If you manipulate throttle inputs just right, with a firm but not too firm beginning from a standstill, to later ease out on it as the car picks up speed, the pull will surprise you. It isn’t exciting and doesn’t give you a kick in the pants or anything, but it is more than sufficient for normal conditions. Mated to the CVT, this isn’t an enthusiast’s choice at all. The i-Vtec’s zone is said to be at the top, but I don’t see us using that often. To get about the city, it is good enough.
  • Having said all that, fuel efficiency in choc-a-block Bengaluru traffic is disappointing at about 8.5-10 kmpl with the AC on and the vehicle on at all signals. But this is the worst of Bengaluru traffic.On the highway, cruising at about 100-110, I got about 15 kmpl.
  • There is an abstract sense of comfort about the whole experience of the car. My father, who is the primary driver of the car, took a few months to get used to our S-Cross in 2017 and then would whine about it a bit throughout its life. The S-Cross isn’t that hard a car to get used to. In the Elevate, however, he took only 10 minutes to get used to it and praised its comfort immediately. I call this comfort abstract because it isn’t clearly attributable to any one dimension of the car: It is remarkably easy to drive and doesn’t demand too much attention, the ergonomics are great and everything is exactly where your hands expect them to be, the aesthetics of the interiors are calming, and the car just generally makes you breathe slower, which is a good thing. It isn’t quirky in any way and doesn’t require you to get used to it. It is just as it should be; it seems to adjust to you and doesn’t expect the opposite.
  • The telescopic steering adjustment is available more in form than in substance. It simply doesn’t have enough range.
  • As others have pointed out, the front passenger footwell doesn’t have enough flat ground before the incline for the wheel well, the front passenger seat is too low, and under-thigh support is hopelessly insufficient on both front seats. While some have complained about too much lumbar support on the front seats, as a rather thin man with a history of some problems with my spine, I am very happy with it.
  • The official review describes the suspension as being soft with a firm edge, and I fully agree. It is extremely good at handling potholes and bumps but does certainly have an undertone of firmness.I think the ride-handling balance is about as good as you can expect from a car of these dimensions. There is body roll (markedly more than in the XUV300 TurboSport) but I suppose the two cars have different use cases and philosophies. I like the steering.
  • The dark golden brown colour is a dust magnet but looks fantastic. It seems like it is more than one colour
  • There are some disappointing things. First, there is now a light sound from some vibration in the dashboard when the vehicle is at idle. Second, cabin insulation is simply not sufficient. It is true that the engine is extremely refined. However, at higher speeds on the highway, tyre/ road noise can get annoying. Vibration and harshness are, however, sufficiently contained. Third, the rear armrest doesn’t get a flap with which to pull it out of its slot. Fourth, the child lock seems to get on rather easily. I think it gets on almost every time our car is cleaned.
  • The sales experience was reasonably good. We bought our car from Dakshin Honda, Lavelle Road, Bengaluru. Our SA was Shri Farhan. We made the booking online on the first day early in July. The vehicle was ready for delivery in early/mid-October. We chose not to take delivery then because of pitru paksha/ mahalaya paksham, and ultimately took delivery in late October. Did a PDI, and Dakshin Honda was extremely cooperative with that. There were no hassles. The PDI went off very well. The car had only single-digit kilometres on the odometer then. Shri Farhan also has been extremely helpful. He has never dodged a phone call, never lost his patience with our persistent questions, seemed always available, and remained cooperative with us much after the delivery until he ensured we received our RC a few days ago. Dakshin Honda sold us a PayTM FasTag and he is now helping us out by changing to a different provider consequent to the muck PayTM finds itself in. The only time he tried something dodgy was to ask us for full payment in advance if we wanted a cancelled booking car to be allotted to us. We didn’t agree because we refused to pay in full before the PDI. To be fair to him, he didn’t persuade us any further. However, we promptly got a car allotted to us the next week. So, I wonder what was going on there. We paid ₹2 lakh before the PDI. Overall, a good experience.
  • Service is, of course, through Wheels Wisdom. I have nothing but nice things to say about them. After the first service, the folks at Whitefield Honda put a sticker on the car that is rather impossible to get off. I have no idea why they did this, and it doesn’t seem appropriate at all. Wheels Wisdom told me that it was to indicate that work was complete. I don’t find that a satisfactory explanation to do that. Here’s a picture of that sticker:

  • As to missing features, I really think they should have offered TPMS with the car. Honda charges I think about ₹12,500 for that as an accessory which is clearly overpriced. The dashcam is also a single-channel camera with no dual-channel option.
  • I know that the Koreans are probably better at this, but I think the touch and feel of materials inside the cabin is, overall, very good. I like the brown theme and entirely appreciate all the aesthetic choices that Honda has made here. One day, I was searching for something I had dropped in the driver’s footwell and was pleasantly surprised by the lighting in the footwells – a nice touch. I also really love the design and usability of the instrument cluster.
  • The ADAS features are annoying. I haven’t figured out if I can use cruise control without the adaptive bit yet. The adaptive cruise control is extremely defensive in that it leaves too large a gap between you and the car in front of you. It is also extremely aggressive in its braking and acceleration. The lane keep assist is a useful feature, but the lane departure warning system can get annoying if you want to weave through traffic on the highways (which, I suppose, you shouldn’t be doing). Collision mitigation braking is an annoyance within the city, but I would rather have it on.I now understand why people complain about the absence of that one button (as in the City e:HEV) to turn off the ADAS features.
  • Visibility is outstanding, particularly on the front. Permits precise manoeuvres and is confidence-inspiring. Makes parking easy.
  • Overall, it is a Honda. Nothing remarkable, nothing wrong. It is doing well. Close to 3,000 kms thus far.

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