customers have been saving money on purchase and running costs by moving to smaller sized cars or in some cases staying with a larger car but opting to choose smaller, cleaner and more fuel efficient engine sizes.
The latest smaller engine option is the 1.6-litre turbodiesel introduced by Honda into the line-up of their family sized SUV five seater CR-V which until now has only had the options of 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre turbodiesel units to offer. The drawback for some buyers will be that the 1.6-litre diesel is only available with 2WD whereas the 2.0-litre petrol has 2WD and 4WD versions and the 2.2-litre diesel are all 4WD. There is also no automatic transmission option for the 1.6-litre turbodiesel but there is for both the other units.
However the 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit scores in terms of lower running costs including taxes. The CR-V with its 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit is available with S, SE and SR levels of specification and costs from £22,800 to £26,880. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel costs from £24,710 to £31,555 and the 2.0-litre petrol from £21,505 to £29,465.
With CO2 emissions of 119, or 124g/km depending on the spec level, the new small diesel model costs £0 for VED First Year rate road tax and then £30 or £105 for the second year onwards depending on the specification. The 2.2-litre diesel with CO2 emissions of 149 to 180g/km costs between £140 and £335 for VED First Year tax reducing to between £140 and £220 for year two onwards. The 2.0-litre petrol has CO2 emissions ranging from 168 to 179g/km so again VED road tax is much higher at £285 to £335 for the First Year rate and £220 to 220 for year two onwards.
For company car drivers the 1.6-litre diesel unit will save them significant sums in Benefit-in-Kind tax, 18% in this case against at least 24%, depending on the spec, for the 2.2-litre 4WD diesel and 25/26% for the 2/4WD petrol. In terms of official fuel economy figure the new 1.6-litre diesel engine in the Combined Cycle will return 62.8mpg, the 2.2-litre diesel around 50.4 to 48.7mpg and the 2.0-litre petrol between 39.2 and 37.2mpg depending on spec. Insurance is group 24, more or less than same as the petrol versions and around two groups lower than the 2.2-diesel.
So all the figures add up to the fact that the new 1.6-litre addition to the CR-V range makes sense financially. Since its launch in September the new 1.6-litre engine has taken 21% of total CR-V sales in the UK with 40% of those going to fleet and business customers. The 2.0-litre petrol is the choice of 37% of customers and the 2.2 diesel 42%. The CR-V has UK sales of around 15,000 units so far this year. The CR-V and its new 1.6-littre engine are built in the UK at their Swindon factory.
Those are the figures but do they add up in terms of performance and driveability? The CR-V is a very popular roomy SUV seating five adults in comfort with a boot space of 589-litres going up to 1,669-litres with the clever folding rear seats stowed away to give a flat load floor. It’s most obvious competitor is the new highly rated Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv 2.2-litre diesel which has more power at 148bhp rather than the 118bhp of the Honda 1.6 diesel but the same low 119g/km CO2 emissions with the 2WD option and it is a little cheaper to buy.
The Honda 1.6-litre four cylinder lightweight aluminium turbodiesel unit develops 118bhp which sounds a bit week for a family car of this size especially as the 221lb ft of torque is developed from 2,000rpm which is a high rpm level for a modern diesel engine. The powerband for responsiveness is quite narrow so it’s just a well it is mated with a slick six-speed manual gearbox because there is plenty of gear-changing needed to keep it in its happy zone. The first four ratios are well chosen to give it punch for low to medium response but then there’s a noticeable gap to the more ‘overdrive’ fifth and sixth gear ratios used for optimum fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. On the open road cruising along the engine performs well enough and on motorways it’s relaxed and quiet. But drop below 50mph or 1,500rpm and it’s a trip down the gearbox to get the engine to respond in a reasonable manner and under load the engine does become noisy.
I have just had a spell 1.6-litre SE specification version with the optional T grade which adds sat/nav. This model costs £25,425, or £24,660 without the T upgrade. Officially this version will return 62.8mpg in the Combined Cycle and my test drive figure was a very impressive real-life 54.3mpg and that included town driving, country roads and motorways so I feel that is a realistic figure. Not as good though as one of my motoring colleagues who got the same CR-V 1.6 diesel to achieve an incredible 77.6mpg over a 500 miles test route. But I’m told much of it was motorway travel at 50mph, not typical driving but it just shows what can be achieved if so boringly minded.
More impressive in real-life terms for a comfortable family or business car of this SUV style and size is the £0 cost of First Year rate road tax which only goes up to £30 for year two onwards. If I was a hard-taxed company car driver then the 18% Benefit-in-Kind tax is a relatively small price to pay.
Some of this cost saving is down to Honda’s latest engine technology which is being brought to market under their Earth Dreams programme but by ditching the 4WD system it has saved weight which has also improved efficiency. Other changes include a reworked suspension system which sharpens up the handling with its front wheel drive layout. Ride comfort is not the CR-Vs strongest point when passing over patched road surfaces the ride becomes unsettled and on motorways there is a noticeable amount of tyre roar.
For the record the SE specification includes cruise control, dual zone climate control DAB radio, front/rear electric windows, electric door mirrors, 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth, computer with multi information display, sat/nav, rear view camera, front fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers and that sat/nav in the T upgrade option.
In all other respects the additional 1.6-litre diesel version of the CR-V is the same as the 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel models. Its big, its roomy, its very well put together and it’s an easy car to live with. The amount we see on our roads proves that. If you can live with just having 2WD it’s probably worth going down the 1.6-litre route.
MILESTONES. Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC, SE-T, 2WD manual. Price: £25,425. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, direct injection turbodiesel, 118bhp, 221lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-speed manual, front wheel drive. Performance: 113mph, 0-62mph 11.2 seconds, 62.8mpg (54.3mpg on test), CO2 119g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 year two onwards, BIK company car tax 18%. Insurance group: 24. Warranty: 3-years/90,000 miles. For: British built, lower running costs and taxes, good real-life fuel economy, same roomy space, specification and family-friendly use as the more powerful models. Against: Only available with 2WD, noisy engine under load with a narrow powerband, tyre noise intrusion over poorer road surfaces. Miles Better News Agency