Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC

We drive the efficient new Honda CR-V crossover to see if it can take on the Mazda CX-5 and Skoda Yeti Greenline

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

While it comes with certain dynamic compromises, the new 1.6 CR-V is a vast, practical family car that is now more affordable to run than ever. Shedding weight has improved the handling, and although the new engine is not as refined or punchy as the 2.2-litre unit it will be a lot cheaper to buy and run – which should broaden its appeal and make it a hit with both fleet and private buyers alike.

Crossovers get more efficient with every new model that enters the market so to make sure the CR-V can keep up Honda has launched a new clean diesel version.

Fitting the 1.6-litre diesel engine from the Civic and removing the four-wheel drive system means this model is 116kg lighter than the 2.2-litre i-DTEC and Honda claims that this means it is also now more fun to drive than ever before.

Honda

On paper it certainly stacks up well, with the company claiming an impressive combined economy of 62.9mpg and CO2 emissions of just 119g/km – equaling the more powerful Mazda CX-5 – and giving the CR-V a theoretical range of over 800 miles. Engine stop-start is standard and there is an ECON button to make the air-conditioning more efficient.

Losing all that weight also means the suspension has been tuned for better grip and less body roll in corners with softer springs at the front and a stiffer setup at the back for improved agility. Drive it along a winding road and you can definitely hustle this CR-V along a bit more easily than the 4x4 version and it stays flatter in corners too.

However the new engine does not work quite as well as it does in the Civic. The CR-V still feels like a big, heavy car to move around and you have to constantly flick between closely-spaced gears to keep it in the narrow power band because if you dip below 2,000rpm throttle response is sluggish at best.

Pulling up steep inclines or going for a quick overtake also exposes the other problem with this 1.6-litre engine - at 2,500rpm the engine noise becomes really rough and intrusive, only settling down again once you are back at a steady cruising speed.

The ride is also a little firmer than the more powerful models and while the Honda still feels more comfortable than some rivals on a bumpy road it can jostle you around when driving over smaller bumps and crests.

Even so the CR-V remains one of the most practical cars in its class with a huge 589-litre boot, which swells to a vast 1,669 litres with the rear seats folded. Passengers travelling in the back also get acres of head and legroom and while the cabin design is quirky in places, the materials are classy and feel solidly made.

There will be three trim levels to choose from when the newcomer arrives in October – but it looks identical to the standard car from the outside – and with prices expected to be around £22,000 for the mid-range SE it should undercut the entry-level Mazda CX-5 diesel too.

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