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HAVING achieved over 10,000 sales in Australia just once since 2008, the Honda CR-V has posted resurgent sales numbers in 2018, already setting an all-time local registration record with two months left in the year.

To the end of October, Honda’s medium SUV competitor has recorded 13,610 new sales, a whopping 86.6 per cent increase over the 7295 from the same period last year. It is also enough to make it the best-selling model from Honda in 2018 ahead of the Civic small car (11,339) and HR-V small SUV (10,313).

If the trend continues, it will be the first time since 2014 that the CR-V has finished as the brand’s top-selling model. It is also largely responsible for the 16.9 per cent lift in overall Honda sales in 2018, with the Civic down 1.5 per cent and the HR-V up 4.8 per cent.

Having first gone on sale in 1997, the CR-V’s previous best sales year came in 2000 when it recorded 12,866 sales, albeit against a smaller pool of competition that came from the likes of the Toyota RAV4 (8413), Subaru Forester (8049), Suzuki Grand Vitara (2051) and its HR-V stablemate (2099).

Nowadays, competition in the medium SUV segment is much hotter with 174,094 sales to the end of October (up 7.5 per cent), making it the most popular segment in the market ahead of small passenger cars (169,757 sales) and 4×4 pick-ups (143,193).

With 20 entrants now competing in the medium SUV segment, the CR-V currently sits fifth behind the Mazda CX-5 (22,185), Toyota RAV4 (18,500), Nissan X-Trail (17,589) and Hyundai Tucson (16,713). At its current rate, the CR-V will finish 2018 with around 16,332 sales – far and away the most successful year on sale in Australia.

Honda Australia says it is targeting 50,000 total sales by the end of 2018, with the CR-V to make up at least 30 per cent of that volume – equating to about 15,000 sales.

The CR-V shot out of the blocks in the first quarter of 2018 with 4538 units sold, and closed out the financial year with a whopping 2232 sales in June, the largest monthly figure for the CR-V ever, and the first time it has cracked 2000 monthly sales since August 2000.

In the second half of the year sales numbers have cooled slightly, with roughly 1100 monthly registrations since July.

On the up: For the first time, the Honda CR-V has recorded over 13,000 sales, with two months still left in the calendar year.

Honda Australia general manager of customer and communications Scott McGregor said the CR-V’s unprecedented performance in 2018 has been due to the brand focusing on the medium SUV market’s buyer type and what appeals to them.

“We’ve spent a lot of time understanding the CR-V target customer and how they like to consume content and focused on providing them the right information at the right time depending on whether a customer is in or out of market,” he said.

The fifth generation of CR-V launched in Australia in mid-2017 with a range of variants including a seven-seat version, which competes only against the Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace in the medium SUV segment.

Motivation in the new range primarily comes from the 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four cylinder also found in the Civic hatch, developing 140kW/240Nm teamed to a continuously-variable transmission.

In September this year, Honda also introduced a new affordable entry point to its range in the form of the $28,290 plus on-roads Vi (or $30,990 driveaway), which undercuts all offerings in the medium SUV segment with an automatic transmission except for the ageing Suzuki Grand Vitara – no doubt aiding the CR-V’s bottom line in a segment where value is crucial.

Currently, the most affordable seven-seat CR-V variant is the $38,990 VTi-L, however Honda has announced it plans to introduce an entry-level three-row offering next year with the turbocharged engine for under $35,000.

Mr McGregor said Honda focused on providing variants with strong value instead of discounting to help spur more sales.

“Honda is very focused on private buyers and given the strength of our brand we focus more on creating value rather than discounting,” he said. “We have a driveway entry grade Vi that starts from $30,990 which we introduced in September and opened CR-V up to a new audience.”

He stopped short of saying the CR-V will continue breaking records next year, but should perform strongly with value-oriented changes around the corner.

“We’re confident in the success of CR-V and have plans to add incremental customer value throughout 2019 so we believe CR-V will remain strong,” he said.

“It is our number one vehicle with family buyers and with a strong market shift towards SUVs it remains a leading priority in our local line-up.”

By Robbie Wallis

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