Latest Honda CR-V first drive


Honda CR-VNow heading for UK Honda showrooms is the significantly revised five seater CR-V Sports Utility Vehicle which is built in Britain for European markets at their Swindon Plant.

With global production of Honda’s new generation 2017 Civic range being moved to the Swindon plants late next year following a £200-million new investment, future production of the CR-V will be in their Ontario plant in Canada which will be our loss because the CR-V is very popular in the UK. Honda Jazz production is also being moved out of the Swindon factory to be built in Japan in the future. 

Honda says more than 515,000 CR-Vs were sold last year marking it the best selling SUV in the world with 50,000 of them sold in Europe and almost 16,500 of them to UK buyers. 

Historically retail customers take up two thirds of CR-V sales in the UK, 67% choose a diesel version , 60% choose an automatic and 53% choose a 4WD model over a 2WD version. 

Pricing for the revised 2015 Honda CR-V range starts at £22,345 for the 2.0 i-VTEC petrol manual 2WD and rise to a hefty £34,120 for the top of the range 1.6 i-DTEC EX auto 4WD. 

In the new line-up the old 2.2-litre 150hp turbodiesel engine has been replaced by a 1.6-litre, 160hp turbodiesel unit which offers the same amount of torque of 350Nm from 2,000rpm as the unit it replaces. Fuel economy is improved to 55.3mpg and CO2 emissions reduced to 139g/km with the new 9-speed automatic gearbox or 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 133g/km for the 6-speed manual gearbox model, both with 4WD. There is also the option of a 120hp version of this turbodiesel engine for 2WD models with fuel consumption from 62.8mpg and from 115g/km of CO2 depending on the specification. For customers who want petrol power there is a revised version of the 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine with 2WD/4WD and manual/auto transmission options depending on the specification level chosen. The lowest CO2 emissions for this petrol engine for the entry level 2WD version are 168g/km and the best fuel consumption figure is 39.2mpg. 

Depending on the engine/drivetrain chosen the latest CR-V specification line-up is S, SE, SR and EX. City Brake Active is now standard on all models to protect from minor urban accidents and it will lower insurance by up to four groups. Depending on trim the latest CR-V is also a big step towards autonomous driving with the i-ACC world first system which incorporates cruise control with real-time all-round radar and camera system to monitor and anticipate traffic movements and accordingly adjust speed to reduce the likelihood of accidents from other vehicles suddenly cutting in front. Inside a redesigned dashboard includes a new 7-inch touch screen with Garmin navigation and Honda Connect android compatibility for mobile phone, internet and entertainment. The CR-V’s cabin is now 6% quieter than its predecessor thanks to better insulation and improved door seals. 

The latest CR-V remains a very roomy five seater with increased legroom and better visibility. The 60-40 split rear seats fold down easily increasing the large boot space from 589 to 1,146-litres. CR-Vs are popular with owners who want to tow caravans or boats so the braked towing weight for 2WD models is 1,700kg, 2,000kg for manual 4WD versions and 1,500kg for automatic 4WD versions.

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Styling changes are minimal with mainly new front and rear bumpers and wider wheel arches to accommodate the increase in front and rear track dimensions used to improve stability. A new steering ratio is used for a more engaging drive. The ride is also smoother with new front and rear suspension settings and the centre of gravity is lower to reduce cornering body-roll. 

At the UK media launch Honda showcased the latest CR-V with the new 1.6-litre, 160hp turbodiesel engine together with the new 9-speed automatic transmission mated with 4WD and all wrapped up with the top of the range EX specification. The cost of this vehicle was a hefty £34,120. Honda’s PCP purchase plan means a customer can have this model from around £320 a month for 36-months. Other versions start from £279 per month. The EX spec is fully loaded though with full leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, power operated tailgate, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry with push button start and alloy door sills. These are in addition to items from lesser spec models such as 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, roof rails, heated front seats, active cornering lights, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, front fog lights, power folding door mirrors, climate control and high spec sound system. 

Full of class-leading technology and driver support aids I did find the three information displays a bit distracting and they still suffer from reflections and were not always legible. The information read-outs initially were not that intuitive to use but spending more time in the vehicle should overcome their less than logical operation. 

Otherwise the revised CR-V is easy to drive, visibility is first class helped by the sensors and cameras and above all it is roomy and comfortable to travel long distances in. It also has considerable kerb appeal. This version might look pricey but you get what you pay for so it is worth the money to have the new engine, the new auto gearbox and the high-tech safety and driver support systems and residual values are forecast to make the latest CR-V a good sensible financial proposition. 

The auto gearchange lever is mounted high on the lower fascia and moves through a short gate but you can also ease it though the gears with column paddles indicating the particular ratios. With so many gears to hand the changes are both quick and clean and you can soon end up in top even on a main road at comparatively modest speed. 

With the new 1.6-litre 160hp engine the impressive 9-speed auto helped us get an indicated 48.2mpg on a test drive over country and motorway roads, down on the official 55.3mpg figure but not by that much. This new engine with its twin phase turbocharger provides good low down torque and when the second phase turbo boost takes over mid range this made the engine really responsive despite the relatively small engine capacity for a large SUV with 4WD. More power than the old 2.2-litre turbodiesel but with the same high torque, better fuel economy, lower emissions and it is quieter and smoother says it all. 

There is a weightier feel to the steering than before but with sharper turn-in and it felt less vague in its feedback. The brakes are well balanced while the ride was compliant even with the 18-inch wheels although there is still noticeable body lean in tight corners and the ride became unsettled over patched road surfaces. 

Competition in the larger SUV sector is strong both from 2WD ‘Crossovers’ such as the slightly smaller Nissan Qashqai or the more premium brand Audi Q3/Q5 models but the Honda CR-V, especially with the on demand 4WD models and this new 160hp turbodiesel engine plus the on-board technologies, makes it well worth considering whether it is a retail or a business purchase. 

MILESTONES: Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC 160hp, automatic, 5-door SUV with EX specification. Price: £34,120. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, twin phase turbocharged diesel, 160hp, 350Nm of torque from 2,000rpm, 9-speed automatic, on demand 4WD. Performance: 122mph, 0-62mph 10.4-seconds, 55.3mpg (48.2mpg on test), CO2 139g/km, VED road tax £130, BIK company car tax 25%. Insurance group: 27E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,605mm, W 1,820mm, H 1,685mm, boot/load area 589 to 1,146-litres, braked towing weight 1,500kg auto or 2,000kg manual version. For: A significantly improved overall package with its new 1.6 turbodiesel engine, smooth auto gearbox, driver support systems, comfortable and roomy, low-ish for taxation costs, high residual values. Against: This version looks expensive despite the high specification, jittery and unsettled ride at times, some cornering body roll. Miles Better News Agency

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