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First Drive

First Drive: Honda CR-V

The story:
Honda’s big SUV has decided to streamline its engine offering and it is diesel that has had the chop. This petrol model will be joined by a hybrid version in early 2019.
Category:C-SUV
Key rival:Volkswagen Tiguan
Honda CR-V 1.5 VTEC turbo FWD manual
Price:£25,000 (estimated)
MPG:44.8 mpg
Emissions:143g/km
On sale:September 2018

 

Diesel isn’t as dead as the headlines might suggest, but it is in the eyes of Honda where its new CR-V is concerned. The mid-sized SUV is to be offered with the choice of only petrol or hybrid powertrains.

The latter doesn’t go on sale until early 2019, so the first version available is the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol. There is only the one engine offered, but it will be available with two different power outputs. The more powerful of the two, the 193hp version, will have a CVT automatic gearbox as standard, while the 173hp manual model is the more efficient, and the step down in outright grunt doesn’t prevent the CR-V from feeling surprisingly sprightly. It will pull happily if you keep the revs up, but it will also sit at around 1000rpm in sixth at impressively low speeds. Both come in front- or four-wheel drive form.

First Drive-25th July 2018-Honda CR-V-Image 6The CR-V’s driving experience is, like the outgoing version, perfectly competent and unremarkable, which is good for this sort of car. The steering is solid, it corners without much body roll and the ride dealt well enough with the decent quality of road on our test route to suggest that it should be up with the class standard on the worst of the UK’s surfaces.

There is a seven-seat option for the first time, but the rearmost seats are really for occasional use only – to get any foot space you need to ask the middle-row passengers very nicely to move their seat forward as far as it will go. Go for the seven-seater and you also lose a notable 89 litres of boot space.

On the other hand the five-seater is a triumph of practicality, with vast amounts of head and legroom front and back.

Petrol brings advantages over diesel – the engine noise is practically non-existent if you keep the revs down, thanks also to a noise-cancelling system – but it has its drawbacks. The most economical front-drive version is only capable of an official 44.8mpg and emissions of 143g/km are not what you’d call compelling for those thinking of their tax bill.

tom webster

The verdict

The new CR-V takes some impressive steps forward – particularly in cabin refinement – but the petrol model doesn’t offer impressive enough economy for the corporate market.