Head over the parapet and best foot forward
That power is adequate if not exceptional; this engine feels perfectly at home in the CR-V, but when you consider it’s a 2.2-litre block, it should be putting out 170bhp-plus and offering a much greater torque range.
Another positive point about the CR-V is the ride quality, which is remarkably composed. Initially we pitted it against the rugged terrain of suburban Dublin’s vertiginous ramps. Some of these have been known to make agricultural suspensions wilt, but the CR-V soaked up the pitch and toss, and seemed to have more left. Where others were practising the usual ritual of brake-climb-overaccelerate-brake, the CR-V could be left at a steady 50km/h and would soak up all the problems. It boded well for a trip to the west – few if any potholes got the better of this Honda. The seats might not be amply cushioned but at least the car is.
Then there is the four-wheel-drive system; not quite Land Rover Defender territory but smart enough for a car in this class – and in the murky quagmire of an equine field it showed no signs of getting stuck.
The price is contentious. For reasons known only to the upper echelons at Honda, the car firm has opted to launch with the 2.2-litre and save the more economically sound 1.6-litre diesel for autumn next year. Trying to make sense of this, it’s probably about putting your best foot forward. Unfortunately, it’s a foot shod in expensive leather when the market is eager for value above all else. In a market where car firms struggle to get their voices heard, it risks the new CR-V being written off as too expensive before the actual market-maker arrives on forecourts. When it comes it should carry a far more financially competitive sticker price.
The CR-V is a surprisingly smart, comfortable and competent mid-size SUV that will please those who give it a chance. The question remains, though: are there enough of those to make a difference? In an exceptionally tough market I fear the demand will not meet the levels this car deserves. For the sake of a one-of-a-brand rich in automotive pedigree, I hope I am wrong.
Honda CR-V: The lowdown
Engine: 2,199cc diesel putting out 148bhp @ 4,000rpm and 350Nm of torque @ 2,000rpm with a six-speed manual transmission.
Performance: 0-100km/h in 9.7 seconds.
Fuel economy: 5.6 L/100km (50.4 mpg).
Emissions: Manual 149-154g/km (€330 motor tax); auto 174-180g/km (€677 motor tax).
Features: Honda’s Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system; 17in alloys; dual-zone climate control; cruise control; electric windows; alarm; LED daytime running lights; stability control; six airbags; hill-start assist; USB connection for iPod/iPhone. ES versions add: Bluetooth; front foglights; parking sensors; auto lights and wipers; leather steering wheel; electric folding mirrors. ES Sport add: leather/Alcantara upholstery; heated front seats; 18in alloys; Bi-xenon headlamps; active cornering lights. EX versions add: full leather upholstery; Sat-Nav; panoramic glass roof; power tailgate.
Price: ES version €39,495 (SE starts at €33,785).