One for the committed Honda fans

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Honda CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC

By Andy Enright

The Honda CR-V is one of those vehicles that might not jump off the page at you when you read a review but more than earns its crust as an ownership proposition. Most UK buyers will want the version on test here, the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel, which comes only with four-wheel drive.

The compact 4x4 market is changing fast and Honda needs to work hard to keep pace. This might be one that will appeal mainly to committed Honda fans.

With this diesel, there’s a four-wheel drive chassis on offer, which might be just as well given that this engine generates a hefty 350Nm of torque compared to the petrol engine’s 192Nm. It gets to 62mph in a respectable 9.7 seconds. Peak power is rated at 150PS. Yes, this engine has been tweaked to improve its emissions but this 2.2-litre powerplant has been around a good while.

I guess that’s the essential nature of the Honda’s compromise. But when you look at its performance as a whole, it’s still a vehicle that will generate big sales.

The four-wheel drive CR-V sends all of its power to the front wheels when you’re driving on road, and there’s no need to mess about with extra gear levers or buttons.

It does all the thinking for you, diverting drive to the rear wheels only when it feels that the fonts might have a little too much to do. Honda believes that the majority of CR-Vs sold will continue to be all-wheel drive models and with a run of bad winters behind us, it’s easy to see why.

The hydraulically activated “dual-pump” system of the third generation CR-V has been replaced by an electronically activated system that provides a faster response when a loss of traction is detected. It also reduces weight by 17 per cent and minimizes internal friction by 59 per cent.

This MK4 CR-V has a lot of cleverness inside, for example you can take the rear seat folding mechanism. This is something you’ll get benefit from day in, day out.

Pull a little fabric handle and the seat base tumbles forward, the seat back dips down and the rear headrest tuck in snugly. Even with these rear seats in place, there’s a cavernous 589 litres of space, so there really is room for five and their luggage in this car.

Drop the rear seats and within seconds you have 1146 litres at your disposal. The load length has been increased by 140mm to 1570mm, while the height of the load lip has been reduced by 25mm to make it easier to load heavy or awkward items. The boot of the CR-V can now accommodate two mountain bikes or four sets of golf clubs.

The Honda CR-V emerges as a strong contender in it’s category because of its sheer utility. This is a design where end use has clearly been an overriding design parameter.

As such, you’ll find the CR-V extremely easy to live with and you’ll grow to love small design touches that probably wouldn’t catch your eye the first time you mooch round the car in a showroom. In that regard, this Honda is a bit of a grower, a car that you’ll own and wonder how you managed without. It’s why so many CR-V buys are repeat purchases.

Honda have tried to make the styling a bit more extrovert and should gain quite a bit of success from this. The CR-V finds its market share being attacked from all sides by some very impressive rivals.

However, Honda is counting on buyers taking a measured view and weighing up its overall balance of qualities but in a sector when new and shiny often win sales, the CR-V is up against it. That’s a shame because when it comes to sheer substance, there’s very little that can touch it. Especially in diesel form.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Honda CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC

PRICES: £25,095-£32,650 - on the road

INSURANCE GROUPS: 27-29 [est] - 1-50 scale

CO2 EMISSIONS: 154-180g/km

PERFORMANCE: Max Speed 120mph / 0-62mph 9.7s

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 48.7mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, vehicle stability assist, trailer stability assist, ABS, electronic brake assist, front seat belt pre-tensioners, rear seat belt monitor, active front head restraints