OVER the last decade or so many of us have been won over by diesel - more economical to fuel, plenty of deep-down power and more refined than of old.
SUV buyers are particularly partial to oil-burners. So it was interesting to try out the latest Honda CR-V with a two-litre petrol engine under the bonnet rather than the more common 1.6-litre diesel.
Despite the big stride forward by Honda in producing the efficient new 158bhp diesel unit which I have driven extensively, it was immediately apparent just how much quieter and smoother the 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine is.
For lower mileage, private users it might be the better option, although there's a noticeable gulf in official fuel consumption. The diesel is listed as achieving 55.3mpg combined, while the petrol gets 36.7mpg.
I found that during every day running 32-33mpg was a more realistic figure - about 12mpg less than I generally achieved in the diesel.
In typical Honda style, the engine spins freely and smoothly with never a grumble as revs mount. It isn't hugely endowed with torque but if you are happy rowing through the six-speed gearbox a bit, progress is rapid enough with 62mph coming up in 10.2 seconds.
The gear lever is mounted high, close to the driver's left hand and the change is fast, light and slick.
Despite relatively compact dimensions of 4,065mm long, there's loads of room in the CR-V both for passengers and cargo. The rear boot carries 589 litres of luggage before the 60-40 split rear seats are folded down, when this area expands to a capacious 1,648 litres. The operation is so simple - just a single pull of the handle does the trick.
Even entry level models get alloy wheels, climate control and electrically adjustable mirrors. And the top line EX is also treated to heated front seats, driver's seat with electronic memory, panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera and DAB radio.
One ‘luxury' I could live without though is the power tailgate which closes and opens far too slowly for my pace of life...and for that of others, too, I'm sure.
The cabin has a premium class appearance which is appropriate since with a price tag of just over Â£31,000 it must compete with products from Audi and BMW. The dash is smart, well laid out and utilises high grade plastics. The seating is covered in quality leather - a standard feature in the EX version.
Although Honda is rightly recognised for its performance cars, the CR-V is clearly more family orientated. Handling is surefooted and sound with enough suspension movement to provide a cosseting ride without provoking excess body roll. Intelligent four wheel drive comes into play when required as a valuable safety net over muddy or slippery surfaces.