2015 Honda CRV Review

CRV 2015

As a long time automobile enthusiast I’ve often looked at global auto trends and compared them with the local market here in Kuwait. The most glaring difference is in the area of best sellers in both sedan and Crossover categories. One of these is the Honda CRV. Honda has three SUVs in their  portfolio starting with the MRV, the CRV and the HRV and I’ve seen all three vehicles even in Dubai but in Kuwait they don’t appear on the roads as much.

Last week I got an email from my contact at Honda asking if I’d like to take out the 2015 CRV for a spin. It was a great coincidence as one of my colleagues was looking to trade in his 2007 CRV and get the new one. I spent a weekend with the car and here’s my review on it but with a little difference this time.

Up until now I’ve only reviewed the sedans from Honda and this is the first Crossover I’ve received to review. I’m a married man and father of two kids and we’re a single car household so a crossover makes pretty good sense for a family man. I’ve had my own Outlander for 7 years now and it’s perfect for my kind of use.

2015 Honda CRV 09

Whats new in the 2015 CRV?
Externally the CRV has undergone changes to the front that brings it more in line with its Honda siblings. The front grill and the headlights have styling elements that’s common in the Honda lineup. The new front is an improvement I must say, I didn’t like previous generation CRV that looked like it was missing something in the front bumper. The rear though is a love it or hate it affair and I’m not a big fan of the bulbous look. It may be functional in terms of increasing load area but looks-wise its not for me.

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2015 Honda Accord – 3.5 Sport

Accord Badge

I was pleasantly surprised a couple of weeks ago when AlGhanim Honda asked me if I’d be interested in test driving the 2015 Honda Accord. I was even more surprised when I was handed the keys to see that I got the top of the line 3.5 v6 Sport model for the whole weekend!

Accord Front Offset

OK, now I’m going to deviate a bit from my regular style of reviewing since this is a special car. I usually get family sedans for testing and they’re almost always focused on utility and small features that makes life easier for the driver. I’m not going to do that all, instead this post is going to be about how happy this car makes you feel.

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Honda City 2014 – Review

City 01

A couple of weeks ago the local Honda dealer contacted me asking if I wanted to take out the new 2014 Honda City for a test drive. So I picked up the car first thing on a weekend morning and used till noon for some personal errands.

First Impression:
Now the Honda rep informed me that the new 2014 was a radical change from the previous model but I  thought it was just the usual marketing jazz. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The 2014 model looks leaner and with each iteration it’s catching up to the design cues of its bigger siblings.

City 02

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Chevrolet Cruze 2014 – Review

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Last week I got the 2014 model Chevrolet Cruze for a test drive from Alghanim Automotive, Kuwait. They said I could use it all through the weekend and return it on Sunday which should give me enough time to get to know the car and give an opinion on how it performs.

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First impression:
To the untrained eye there may not be much to differentiate the 2014 model from the previous one but if you look closely you’ll find that they’ve changed the front fog lamp designs and the overall front look of the car now is inline with the new Chevy grills. I took a walk around the car to see if there was anything else that stood out as exceptional but it was the familiar Cruze that most people are used to.

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Honda City 2013 – Review

Front

Last week I had contacted Alghanim Honda Kuwait to find out if I could test drive some of the 2013 models and they provided me a brand new Honda City EX to use for the whole weekend. I used it from Thursday evening to Saturday mid-day and covered approximately 200 Kilometers so this post is all about my experience over that time.

First impression: I’m familiar with the Honda City for the past 2 generations when it made its debut in the South East Asian markets and its quite popular in markets such as India. This new 2013 is quite different from the first model and has gotten quite sleeker. From the front it has a small resemblance to the Civic Type R (UK Model) and the rear has a new taillight cluster that sets it apart from the outgoing model.

I know this is a compact entry level sedan but the model I received, which is the EX spec full option model, clearly didn’t feel or look cheap. The model provided by Alghanim Honda Kuwait was a Carnellian Red Pearl and the quality of the paint and exterior finish was quite good.

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Design:
Since I had the car for the whole weekend I was able to get a good feel of both the interior and exterior of the car. Honda has given a face-lift to the new City and now it has the same design cues in the grill as the rest of the vehicles in Honda’s stable, like the Accord and Odyssey. The front section has the aggressive wedge shape that we’d initially seen on the Civic Type R concept when it made its debut. I took some shots of the car from various angles and it has a pleasing look from the side profile to the rear three quarters.

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The Interior too has an ‘upmarket’ feel that lacking in some of the budget sedans today. When I received the vehicle the seat and steering controls were obviously adjusted for the previous driver but it took me only a couple of minutes to adjust the seat and steering to my preferred driving position.

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One of the things I like about the Civic and Accord is the driver oriented controls on the dashboard and the same design philosophy is employed in the City. All the controls on the steering and dashboard are easily accessible and takes virtually no time at all to get accustomed to the layout. The instrument console is easy to read and you’re not bombarded with too much information on the central display.

Steering and controls:
The steering wheel is not leather wrapped but covered in a rubbery material that provided adequate grip and allowed for damping of feedback from the road when driving on rough sections. The gearshift knob was covered in a similar material and it felt ok when shifting to Drive and Reverse.

The EX version that I drove featured Audio controls on the left of the steering and Cruise control buttons on the right. It was easy to use and within a short period of driving the car I didn’t have to look at the steering to know what buttons I was pushing. I was also surprised to find out that it also had paddle shifters on the steering.

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Driving:
The car felt nimble and light and it was easy navigating it through narrow roads in Shuwaikh area. The turning radius is around 5 Meters and was a breeze making a quick U-turn. The City has a 1.5 Liter iVTEC engine that is not shy to reach its rev limit and is responsive when you put your foot down on the throttle. The 5 speed automatic gear box has evenly spaced ratios and if driven enthusiastically you can even do 120 easily in the same pace as a larger sedan.

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Engine and Transmission:
I took my family to Saravanaa Bhavan on Friday for a weekend brunch and it felt solid and confident on Road #40 towards Fahaheel. I used the cruise control to maintain my speed at 115 and the engine was ticking over at just around the 2500 RPM mark. This VTEC engine redlines somewhere around 6750 RPM so staying at 2.5K on the highway felt relaxed.

On the way back we did experience some very strong crosswinds but the car felt stable and it didn’t take much effort to maintain the car in the lane at high speeds. The City I drove rode on 185 / 55 R16 tires and they felt sure footed on tarmac.

Air conditioning:
This is one area a few friends commented on and wanted my feedback as there is a general perception that small Japanese cars would have trouble keeping passengers cool in Kuwait’s climate. We spent close to two hours for brunch and all the while the car was parked out in the open parking lot at 40+ degrees heat. On the return journey home I set the A/c to the minimum and blower on full blast. The City does not have rear A/c vents and it took about 5 minutes before my wife and kids felt comfortable in the back seat.

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Rear seats:
The rear seats have a 60/40 split configuration and also reclines to a certain extent. Leg space is more than enough if you’re less than 6 feet tall and in my family’s case they were comfortable on the long drive to Fahaheel and back. There’s a central armrest with cup holders for the rear passengers which can be stowed away if not required.

Luggage space:
Coincidentally a family member was leaving on vacation during the weekend and so I used the City to make the airport run and transport luggage. She had a total of two large trunks and one soft duffel bag and they all fit in the rear of the car. For longer pieces of luggage you can also flip down the rear seats to increase your storage area.

boot space

Creature comforts:
1. Paddle Shift on the Steering wheel
2. FM Stereo with USB and AUX input
3 . Glove box and center console storage
4. Map lights in front for driver and passenger

Specs:
Maximum power – 118 BHP @ 6600 RPM
Torque – 14.8 Kg/m @ 4800
Body: Monocoque chassis , 4 doors
Engine: 1.5 Liter
Transmission: 5 Speed AT with Manual controls option
Seats: 5
For detailed specs you can check this [link]

Overall Conclusion:
I had the car for the whole weekend and covered almost 200 Kilometers and by the end of my review I had no doubt in my mind that this car should be strongly considered for a first time buyer or for someone who has a limited budget but wants a quality Japanese car.

I’d like to thank Alghanim Honda Kuwait for providing the test car and for sales inquiries you can contact them directly on the contact information provided below.

Honda Kuwait [website] You can also follow them on [Instagram] and [Twitter]
Showroom: Al Rai Safat Alghanim Mall, Al Rai, 4th Ring Road,  P O Box:6474, Zip:70458 Shuwaikh Phone: 24964000

The Samsung Galaxy Offer – Scam 2012

During last weekend a member of my family received a phone call from 22255949, from an Arab individual, who claimed to be from Alghanim Xcite. He offered congratulations and announced that we had just won a Samsung Galaxy phone and gift coupons worth 35 KD. Fortunately for us we’d heard about this scam and politely declined the prize.

My curiosity got the better of me and I called back on 22255949 to have some fun with the guy and this is how our conversation went;

Galaxy guy: Salaam Aleikum, Alghanim
Me: Salaam, haathe Xcite?
Galaxy guy: Ee naam, Alghanim Xcite, shinu mobile number maal ente?
Me: 66612247 (gives fake number)
Galaxy guy: Wain makaan? Fee gihaz Samsung Galaxy ‘brize’, baad khamsa thalatheen dinaar ‘cow-bon’ (thats how he pronounced it and my wife heard it first as cow born)
Me: *starts to chuckle and switches to half English* Ok right, anaa eeji bil showroom
Galaxy guy: Laa laa, bes hathinee address, mandoob eegi wa jeeb mobile
Me: *controlling laughter* laa hajji, anaa eeji bil showroom. Just tell me which one, Safat? Avenues? Farwaniya?
Galaxy guy: *getting frustrated* Laa baba, ente ‘brize’ winner. Driver come to you, you give money 25 KD and collect mobile and 35 KD cow-bons from driver.
Me: Which showroom?
Galaxy guy: Alghanim Hawally
Me: ok khalas, anaa eeji bukhra *laughs and hangs up phone*

I Googled this phone number and found a post on Indians In Kuwait about this scam and on further inquiry I found out that someone known to my family has actually paid 25KD to the scamsters and received some lousy Chinese mobile phone. I also sent a message to Alghanim (the real one lol!) and received a reply as follows;
X-cite by Alghanim Electronics- Kuwait: Hello Mathew, Thank you for taking the time and speaking with us, We are aware of these calls, we would like to inform you that it is not Xcite Alghanim who is calling. Thank you and have a great day.

Now what I don’t understand is why I didn’t hear about this from any of the local blogs? Are the scammers targeting only the expats or have others been duped as well?

Ordering from Xcite.com

Earlier this week I made my first purchase on Xcite.com to try out their e-Commerce site.

The whole process is simple and once you’ve got all the items in your cart you can check out and pay with either your K-Net card of Credit card. Like most other shopping sites you have the option to save and choose from more than one shipping address so you can send the items to whichever location you choose. Shipping is free for orders above 20 KD.

One of the features I found useful was the product comparison where I could compare up to 5 items and this helped me make a quick decision on my purchase. Once you’ve made your choice and the payment is complete you can print out the online invoice and then wait for the delivery team to give you a call. I placed my order on the evening of March 19th and the complete order was delivered today, March 21st.

This is pretty good service and I must say I’m impressed. My future purchases of all larger household items might be done online since I find that its more convenient than a store visit.   One feedback I have however is that the delivery vans must be equipped with GPS coz its kind of a hassle having to explain your location to the driver if you’re in the middle or work or in a meeting.

Xcite [homepage]

If you have any queries about their service you can ask them on Facebook and they’ll answer your questions in a short time.

Xcite on [Facebook]

Xcite goes online

This afternoon I received an update via Xcite’s Facebook page that they’ve launched an all new online shopping system (in Beta phase) so I created an account for myself to check it out. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be buying anything at the moment since I already have some items picked out from Flipkart and some other items are on my wishlist on Amazon.

Signing up just takes a minute and you have access to manage you shipping and billing addresses, track your orders, create a wishlist and even review the products that you’ve bought. Overall the site looks good and is very contemporary by local standards and by that I mean has an edge over Sheeel and Blink. Some of the offers they have today like the iPhone 4S for KD 229.900 is great and I hope they price items reasonably in the future.

What would have been nice is if they’d had migrated their customer information database so that you can access the same list the salesmen sees at the POS terminal. I’ve been an Xcite customer for many years now and there should be some way to link my store profile to the online store account.

Xcite [link]

Fujifilm Z300 – Touchscreen camera

My wife got this camera recently and I spent some time going over the features and controls. The first thing that came into my mind when I took it out of the box was “where the hell are all the buttons?” then I realized that this is a touch screen camera.  Here’s the review;

Whats in the box:

Fujifilm z300 camera, battery, charger, stylus, lanyard, software CD, instruction booklet and a USB cable

Specifications:

10 Megapixel sensor, 5 x optical zoom, 3 inch touch screen, Lithium ion battery

User experience: To be honest I didnt like it that much, I mean I love buttons on a camera and this thing works like an iPhone or an iPod Touch. This may make some people happy but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. Performance wise its adequate for small gatherings or outdoor shots, while dark environments will result in some grains. It can go up to 1600 ISO but the pictures look like its from a mobile phone. Feature wise it packs in some useful features like in-camera editing and touch up and many other gimmicks that will impress the average camera user. As a point and shoot camera for ladies I guess this is enough.

Available at Alghanim Xcite.