What are Japanese SUVs looking for in Cantacuzino Castle? I did a Honda HR-V test and went to Grigore Cantacuzino’s old residence to see an exhibition of very valuable Japanese prints. We invite you to know the strengths of the Japanese model, but also what Japanese prints are.
13 degrees at the end of February? This is an unusual winter! Nothing predicts the strong sun that we will discover in Postini. Just as no one expected the surprise that the car we went there with will surprise us. We chose a model that is not very popular in Romania, but that is capable of turning future customers into lifelong Honda fans.
The Japanese brand is said to have a group of very dedicated fans, attracted by the quality of the models. After about 400 kilometers with the new Honda HR-V, I’m starting to understand that.
The new Honda HR-V arrived on the Romanian market recently. So she was still in an acclimation period. A good reason to make it feel at home, while on a foray into the Prahova Valley, inside one of the most beautiful castles in Romania. Don’t rush to say that the new Honda HR-V has nothing to look for in a castle with neo-Roman architecture, like Cantacuzino. Because our story today is bigger than that.
From November 2021 to April 2022, the castle built by Prince Gregory Cantacuzino, called Napoleon, hosted an exhibition of Japanese prints. Hence the idea of giving the Honda HR-V an unexpected experience in Romania.
Hybrid SUV in Napoleon Castle
We left Bucharest in the morning and sped along the highway to Ploechte. We had to make the most of this part of the road as possible, because it was Friday and the Prahova Valley was going to quickly turn into the Valley of Weeping.
The HR-V mumbled a bit unfortunately as we got close to the speed limit, because the 131-horsepower hybrid feels better in the city. But I walked steadily and did not take into account the consumption, which is slightly higher at such speeds (about 8 liters / 100 km). It should also be noted that the tank has a capacity of 42 liters, so refueling will be required more often.
The weekend air was already buoying at Cantacuzino Castle, as many tourists tried to cram in phone screens the lavish panorama of the mountains and the view of the building completed in 1911. It increased.
It must have been very nice back in the day, when the snow was thicker. Unfortunately, Gregor Cantacuzino, aka Napoleon, was unable to see many changes of the season in his majestic castle in Busteni, because he passed away two years after its opening.
Interior design with noble materials, clean habits
Inauguration with pomp, because the erection lasted 5 years, and the interior another year and a half. However, everything was decorated with noble materials: Roman mosaics, murals created by Venetian artists, Murano glass, oak ceilings, doors of the same wood, stairs of Carrara marble.
And the development of the new generation of Honda HR-V spanned several years. However, the wait was worth it because despite the lack of Carrara marble and Murano glass, the interior of the HR-V is a very welcoming place, with carefully selected materials. You will find soft plastic only in a few areas, but it is necessary, because there you interact tactfully with the interior.
The rest of the finishes are centered around Japanese precision.
On the equipment level we tested, ie the Advance Style, the car benefited from white faux leather upholstery, along with the textile areas, a combination that lit up the entire cabin. By the way, by default you have a white faux leather insert on the dashboard.
A perfect castle, a perfect car
At the time of its opening, Cantacuzino Castle was famous because it was technological and made use of electricity, a sewage system, and drinking water. Even if it seemed trivial to us, it was very important at the time.
Along the same lines, the Honda HR-V promises to be one of the most technologically advanced models of the Japanese manufacturer, offering a digital instrument panel and a 9-inch center display, which are included in the standard equipment. It now has a better sense of touch and an intuitive menu. Not to mention the fact that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto offer wireless connectivity, which is kind of “drinking water” today.
The history of Cantacuzino Castle also includes a less joyous period. In 1948, the building came under the management of the Ministry of the Interior, which turned it into a sanatorium and painted the walls where many craftsmen worked. Only after the revolution was the castle returned to the descendant of the Cantacuzino family, who opened it to the general public and especially to art lovers.
Since 2015 until now, the castle has hosted many cultural events and works. This way we reach the goal of our visit with Honda HR-V: visit the Japanese Print Show.
What were the Japanese prints?
The castle guide greeted us at the souvenir shop and then walked us down a wooden staircase to the first floor. I discovered here a gallery of the 60 Japanese prints, part of an impressive collection of 1,800 items, by a Bucharest lawyer.
The prints depict images from Kabuki theater, a current that emerged in the early 17th century, in Japan’s notorious neighborhoods. Attractive women performed erotic performances accompanied by musicians. After a long time, women were outlawed, with roles played only by men with very elaborate wigs and makeup that had been put on in more than an hour.
The prints were nothing more than posters of these plays, an indication that the Japanese laid the foundation for artistic promotion 400 years ago. To create an image, there is a complex process. An artist paints a scene. Then it was carved in cherry wood. Only then were bamboo leaves or rice paper applied, which were pressure-printed. Thus several hundred pieces were printed, and then distributed to the public. At first, the prints were black and white, but along the way, once colored, it was necessary to carve several cherry wood molds. One for each colour.
As a color analogue, the Honda HR-V can be ordered in 7 body colors, most of which are cool and discreet, with the exception of luxurious Crystal Red and Sand Khaki Pearl. The good part is that this color costs the same, i.e. only 450 euros. In fact, it is one of the few options you can choose from the Japanese SUV, given that the two available machines are generously configured.
The specimen I knocked on at the castle gates was painted white Platinum Sunlight Pearl. This means it has contrasting black mirrors and ceilings. By the way, in the menu you can also choose a silver ceiling and mirrors.
The propeller is as complex as the art of typography
Therefore, fingerprints are generated through a complex process, and amazing results. Fixed as it happens under the hood of the new Honda HR-V. The Japanese-designed hybrid has a complexity that not many customers will seek to understand. Despite this, as we all know, Honda fans are very loyal to the brand.
Under the hood we have a 1.5-liter gasoline engine, equipped with two electric motors and a battery. There are three driving modes: electric, hybrid, and motor. The car runs on electricity most of the time in the city. In fact, Honda tells us that 91% of the city’s mileage, at 0-40 km/h, will be done solely on electricity.
When the battery power is low, the car switches to hybrid mode and begins to hear the sound of the gasoline engine running. However, it does not power the wheels, it only charges the battery. Propulsion is also done with the help of an electric motor.
The third mode is called the motor. We used it when we traveled on the Bucharest – Ploiesti highway. In this way, all the engines shake hands, and the conventional engine starts sending resources directly to the front axle. It is also the moment when the sound of a conventional engine begins to be heard in the passenger compartment. If I confuse you with a lot of technical details, I will try to summarize: in the city, the Honda HR-V has been working for a long time with electricity and can record urban consumption between 4 and 5 liters / 100 km. It’s amazing for an SUV.
Europeans are famous for the Japanese press
It is also surprising to know that Japanese prints became mere art objects when they arrived in Europe. They were used by the Japanese for packing various items. As a newspaper, if you want to draw a peer. Europeans were amazed at the artwork and thus became very valuable. For example, the world’s most valuable character, called “The Great Wave of Kanagawa”, was recently sold for $1.6 million.
Cantacuzino Castle also hides some artwork that you can’t see from a distance. You need to get close and see the skin of Cordoba with your own eyes where life-size portraits of 12 descendants of the Cantacuzino family have been painted. The frescoes are unique in our country and of course very valuable.
The new Honda HR-V is also a great value, which is not at all on the same level as other small SUVs, when it comes to price. Admittedly, the interior is undoubtedly a compact SUV. This is how the price starts at 32,500 euros, and the next level of equipment adds another 3,000 euros. Thanks to the Riblah program, the car should benefit from a total discount of 3000 euros, which is not bad at all.