Honda’s UK built and engineered CR-V with the 9 speed auto box was a fairly impressive and refined machine when tested last summer. How does the 4wd 160Ps car with conventional manual gearbox fare in the Urban jungle and what’s the full Honda package really like?
For a car that I once dismissed as boring and lacking in soul, my mind was changed once I spent some serious time with one. I drove an automatic 1.6 diesel around Norfolk last year and then spent three hours trapped on the M25 on the way back with only a bottle of mineral water and a moaning missus for company. The CR-V is one of those things in life you ought to appreciate more than you do… but you don’t – like those expensive training shoes buried at the back of the wardrobe or an old leather jacket, always there, always ready, always comfortable.
Perhaps that analogy is a tad unfair, but what SUV car these days is in your face exiting or sexy? There you go… but the CR-V is arguably one of the most under appreciated cars of its type… or is it… they’ve sold well over 3/4 of a million units since its launch back in 1997. The reason for this is a simple one… its a bloody good car all round. Let me take you back to the first paragraph. After that aforementioned journey from hell when the pair of us were so tired and in a desperate need to spend a penny when the traffic finally eased, my better half remarked about what a nice vehicle it was to travel in.
This is flattery of the highest order – why? Well that’s best described simply that she demands excellence, as indeed most people do these days, standard fare in a new car. If a car is rubbish she’ll tell me… or worse still complain or moan like a blocked up hoover, If a car is average or good she’ll say nothing. To make a positive remark about a car some good going in our household… and we certainly have more than our fair share of new cars on the driveway. The manual 4wd version I have just tested brought the same positive remarks – especially about the running boards and chunky alloy wheels. The added bit of bling transforms the CR-V from a fairly average looking car into an almost funky one.
It has the same superb level of practicality, performance and quality we all have come to expect of a 21st century Honda – British built too! The auto version was impressive be it round town, in the dales or on the highway, the very same applies to the manual. Get up and go is really quite remarkable – I’ve made the point before about the power and torque of the Honda 1.6 diesel… its a belter of a plant. Smaller engines, when mated to manual gearboxes, often tend to show up any deficiency in low down torque. Seemingly not so with the 6 speed 4wd CR-V. Providing the revs are over 1200rpm the 160Ps dual stage turbo D simply digs deep and pulls with a level of guts and determination some larger engine often fail to manage – 360Nm of torque from a 1.6 is incredible.
A couple of days into the loan a problem emerged from one of the front tyres, a call was made to a local dealer (Gatwick Honda) and the car went in for attention, it was during this visit another Honda plus point was duly noted. Rival volume brands like Ford or Vauxhall might offer similar types of vehicle, but the devil is in the detail. A smart bright showroom, happy staff, contented and quiet customers in the waiting lounge… a perfect environment. I spoke to a member of the sales team who had joined from a Volkswagen outlet some months earlier who told me it was: “one of the best dealers with the nicest customer base” he had worked for. Half an hour and a coffee later all was fine… no fuss, no faff, back on the road – perfect you might say.
This makes me reminisce back to a time a few years ago when I ran a 2.2 diesel Civic as a company car. Despite the fact I was a high mileage fleet user, my dealership at the time (JCB Ashford) treated me like royalty and a friend who has recently purchased a brand new Honda from the same dealer concurs with my sentiments. Everyone likes a good deal these days, as we all do, but some other important factors of car ownership are also very important – perhaps more so. Customer satisfaction is paramount these days and Honda not only make fine cars… they also offer the full package of reliability, superb dealers and very impressive customer care. Personally, this means more to me than hammering the salesman into the carpet for another £500 off the deal sheet and some free floor mats.
The CR-V in top flight EX trim is not cheap though at a whisker over £33,000 but before you suck in to inhale through clenched teeth… may I warn and ask you to consider the following. In my honest opinion that comes of over 20 years experience of the motor trade, there is no such thing as a cheap car – new or used. The Honda CR-V may not set the world on fire in terms of brand appeal to the masses, but as an all round package that gives you a deep down gut feeling of total reliability and security… its worth every penny in my book!
Model Tested: Honda CR-V 1.6i-DTEC 4×4 EX
Produced By: Honda UK Manufacturing Stratton St Margaret nr Swindon
Price: £33,060 excluding options
Driveline: 1.6 Turbo D with 6 speed manual & electronic part time four wheel drive
Power / Torque: 160Ps / 360Nm
Economy: *55.3mpg combined (48.8mpg on test)
Performance: *0 – 60 in 9.7 seconds
Co2 / VED: 133G/Km / Band E
* Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
THE HIGHS: Superb performance – Good economy – Refined when cruising – Nice ride comfort – Tidy handling – Well equipped – Amazing use of interior space for both people and packages – Clever one touch rear seat folding – Super comfy seats.
THE LOWS: A bit dull inside – Steering lacks communication and feel – Not cheap in top trim level – Thin rimmed and ugly steering wheel.
Full 1.6 diesel CR-V review by clicking HERE
For more information on the Honda range click HERE