Honda South Africa launched its new Honda Elevate SUV in Cape Town this week. Recharged was in attendance, which was our first official introduction to the brand.

The Elevate is a small crossover positioned as a volume seller for Honda, alongside the BR-V and Fit e:HEV. It is competitively priced, starting at R369 900 for the Elevate 1.5 Comfort 6MT; and R429 900 for the Elevate 1.5 Elegance CVT.

For the launch event in Cape Town, I drove the Elevate 1.5 Elegance model, and I will focus on that in this piece, unless otherwise specified.

Honda Elevate Quick Look

  • 1.5L i-VTEC engine; CVT
  • 89kW and 145Nm of torque
  • 6.1L/100km consumption; 40L tank
  • FWD; 17″ Alloy wheels
  • 8″ infotainment screen; 7″ instrument cluster
  • 458L boot capacity; sunroof
  • R429 900


The Honda Elevate has an eye-catching look, featuring a boxy design. I like the presence it has, especially in the bright colour-ways as you can appreciate the design a bit more. It is available in six colours: silver, grey and red metallic ones; and then orange, blue and white pearlescent. Both models have LED lighting in the front and back, and daytime running lights, but the Elegance has LED front fog lights and automatic headlights.

Honda Elevate

From the side, you can see its bold square wheel arches, with the Elegance model sporting colour coded lower door finishes, and a 17″ dual tone alloy wheels. In comparison, the Comfort has 16″ steel wheels.

It is 4312mm long, 1650mm in height and has ground clearance of 2650mm. The Elevate is based on the Ballade platform, and it is built in India. However, the South African models are specced according to the local market; we do not receive the ones that are sold in India. Honda says the Elevate is also exported from India to Japan.

First Impressions

The cabin feels spacious and the buttons and placements are not overwhelming. It feels ergonomic, with the 8-inch infotainment screen positioned in the middle on top. I found there to be sufficient leg room as I’m tall, and I didn’t feel cramped.

The steering wheel is comfortable, the instrument cluster clearly visible, and plenty of small storage slots all over. We used the cup holders in the centre, had juices and snacks stored in the door, along with other bits. The keys were stored below the hand brake as there was space for that, to. The vehicle has a start/stop button.

For the launch drive, it was very chilled, we drover over 110km split between two. There was a little bit of traffic, open roads, highways, driving through suburbs – the usual Cape Town drive. I enjoyed cruising along in the Elevate.

Because of its continuously variable transmission (CVT), it can get a bit noisy when you are going uphill, which I did not experience a lot. This model has paddle shifters if you prefer to control gear ratios.

The CVT is the more fuel efficient model, when compared to the Comfort 6MT base model, at 6.1L/100km. I was impressed with my limited time in the car, considering what the Elevate costs.

All things tech

The 8-inch infotainment display has physical buttons next to the screen to go into menus quickly. It does not have built-in navigation, you would have to connect a smartphone and use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay for that, which is what we did for the launch drive.

An addition of a wireless phone charger is cool if you really want one (Elegance), I appreciated it more as a storage slot for my phone. Wireless chargers by default are slower, and your phone can heat up so I avoid using them. It fit my power bank and phone perfectly while driving.

There is an inclusion of two USB-A ports, which feels a bit dated now that both ends of an Android and iPhone cable are on USB-C. Fortunately, the car supports wireless CarPlay, which is how I connected my phone as I don’t carry cables around (my powerbank has built-in cables).

The car’s sound system has 6 speakers on the Elegance and 4 on the Comfort. Windows are electric, as are side mirrors.

In terms of safety, the car has vehicle stability assist, ABS, hill start assist, rear view cameras, rear parking sensors, seatbelt warnings on the front, ISOFIX child seats on the rear, alarm, immobiliser, keyless entry, and walk-away unlocking.

When it comes to airbags, important to note that the Elegance has dual front, front sides, and side curtain, however the Comfort only has dual front ones.

Final thoughts

The Honda Elevate is a good looking compact SUV, a perfect starter couples or family car with a bunch of tech included. It drives comfortably most of the time, is spacious and has 60:40 rear split seats. Given my experience and drive, it feels like a lot of car for your money.

For peace of mind, the Elevate has a 5 year/200 000km warranty,  and 4 year/60 000km service plan at 15 000km intervals. AA roadside assist is included for three years. I don’t have a lot of experience driving cars that are made in India, but the Elevate impressed me.