HONDA has pulled the plug on diesel engines for its new CR-V.

The choice now is between a 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to a hybrid system or a 1.5-litre petrol unit.

The introduction of a hybrid version and dumping of diesel is big news for Honda because we’re talking here about the world’s best-selling SUV, and this is the company’s first hybrid SUV to go on sale in Europe.

There’s no doubt about which way the wind is blowing when one looks at the fall in diesel car sales and the rise in electric-powered cars, and this new CR-V Hybrid strikes a happy medium between the plug-in electric cars and conventional petrol offerings.

In the case of this hybrid, the engine is mated with two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery to produce a hushed powertrain.

The engine works in conjunction with the two electric motors - one for propulsion and the other a generator motor – to offer seamless performance in three driving modes.

Matched with either two or four-wheel drive, the technology provides for a smooth, hushed ride that will appeal to those looking for a reliable, spacious hybrid of high quality with diesel-like fuel economy and the ability to perk up when the need arises.

When compared with the outgoing model, it is plain to see that Honda has gone for a sportier look. Hence, the broader, muscular wheel arches, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, sleek LED headlights and double honeycomb grille at the front.

The sportiness is enhanced by the first deployment of a shutter grille system that improves aerodynamics and therefore fuel efficiency.

Honda boasts that this CR-V also delivers improved ride quality, steering response and body control, together with more comfort, convenience and connectivity.

It certainly feels plush in the tested SR version. Apart from the naff faux wood inserts (a silver option is available), everything looks and feels of premium quality and those plump seats are a joy to sit in.

It comes as no surprise to learn that the-new CR-V is slightly larger with a wheelbase longer by 30mm and wider stance because the cabin space is generous and there’s a wider, deeper boot with a longer load bay. There’s a hands-free power tailgate too, plus better storage in the cabin, and the 60/40 split-fold rear seats come down in a jiffy.

Honda has rationalised the screen layout so that you now get one central touchscreen in addition to the seven-inch driver information interface visible through the steering wheel.

Drive selector controls for the hybrid model are positioned in the centre console, with a design that uses a compact switch-style transmission selector rather than a conventional lever. Drive, Park and Neutral functions require a button push, while Reverse requires a pull-up action. A Sport mode enables a more responsive throttle input. If there is sufficient charge in the battery, a short-range pure EV mode is also available, providing a zero-emissions range of about 1.2 miles, but even then it will depend on the driving conditions and battery charge.

Ahead of the steering wheel sits the new instrument binnacle, flanked by battery charge status and fuel-level gauges.

It features a digital speedometer and content zone, which the driver can scroll through to choose from a variety of information. It also features a graphic of the current power flow, indicating the vehicle’s power source at any given moment, status updates on if the battery is being charged, and an eco guide to suggest more efficient driving techniques.

Honda’s clever technology intelligently and automatically switches driving modes to provide the best efficiency. These modes comprise: EV Drive, where the battery supplies power to the electric propulsion motor directly; Hybrid Drive, where the engine supplies power to an electric generator motor, which in turn supplies it to the electric propulsion motor; and Engine Drive, where the engine is connected directly to the wheels via a lock-up clutch.

In most urban driving situations, the CR-V Hybrid will shuffle between Hybrid Drive and EV Drive for optimum efficiency. In Hybrid Drive, excess power from the petrol engine can also be diverted to recharge the battery via the generator motor. EV Drive permits pure-electric propulsion and gives the CR-V a zero-emissions range of about 1.2 miles. The Engine Drive mode is the most efficient set-up for cruising at higher speeds

At a 40mph cruise, the CR-V Hybrid will typically run in EV Drive for more than half of the time. At 62mph the car will be in EV Drive for about a third of the time.

The software ‘brain’ of the system decides when to shuffle between these modes to maximise efficiency, without requiring any further thought or input from the driver.

Honda has put a great deal of thought into minimising engine noise, introducing a noise cancellation system that employs a mix of technology and physical barriers to ensure occupants enjoy a quiet ride..

The CR-V’s off-road capability is also improved as it offers higher ground clearance than its predecessor with no impact on the centre of gravity.

Honda Sensing uses a combination of radar and camera information, plus sensors to warn and assist the driver. It includes a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition that can adjust the vehicle speed to that indicated by the last road sign, cross traffic monitor to warn the driver of approaching vehicles when reversing and a rear view camera.

It’s all clever stuff, brilliantly executed in a beautifully constructed package.


Honda CR-V Hybrid SR 2WD

Price: £31,015 (CR-V range from £25,995)

Engine: Atkinson-cycle IC engine working with two electric motors

Transmission: Auto driving two wheels (AWD available)

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 8.8 seconds; top speed 112mph

Economy: 53.3mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 120 g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: *****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ***