Honda CR-V 1.6 EX

Honda CR-V, static above
Honda CR-V, action full front
Honda CR-V, action front
Honda CR-V, dashboard
Honda CR-V, boot 2
Honda CR-V, action rear
Honda CR-V, static side
Honda CR-V, side night
Honda CR-V, boot

THE list of car models built in Britain will drop by one by the end of the year when production of Honda's CR-V moves from Swindon to Canada.

Not to worry, though, for the UK then becomes the sole global base for Honda's latest Civic range in popular five-door form and your new CR-V SUV will then arrive by boat from North America.

The Canadians will inherit a car that has won many admirers over the years and in several guises, all of them capable of getting so far under an owner's skin that as one was retired a newer one took its place.

The secret of success has always owed (much) more to solid practicalities than fancy flights of imagination. Not for a CR-V owner the blandishments of catwalk style and fancy features.

They might sell some cars, but this Honda was more grounded in reality. Like a build quality, from the way the panels fit tight together to switches without a bit of slop in them, that promise a long and trouble-free life.

Also appreciated by CR-V owners is the way the car seems to grow on them as the miles pile up. This is a car that seems to fit the bill better the longer you're together.

Even an 800 miles journey had the better-by-miles effect, turning what seemed like a solid but a bit dull car into something I was sad to see go at the end.

The CR-V is never going to set the pulses racing, it's not that sort of car. You might think it more important (lots do) that it simply transports you and the family in comfort and safety for a very long time into the future.

Hidden away with in the latest revamp of the CR-V were small but important changes to the suspension; the sort of thing keen engineers spend weeks on but scarcely ever reap the recognition they deserve.

So well done all round. The car is considerably smoother to drive, with a more relaxed feel on bumps and sharper steering.

Thicker door seals and upgraded carpets (that's attention to detail) have made the interior quieter than before, while the rear seats now fold flat with a single lever pull, producing the sort of loadspace that makes the CR-V a natural choice for owners with lots of stuff to shift.

Under the bonnet of most new CR-Vs beats a 1.6-litre diesel engine, smaller than the 2.2 that did the job for years but more than capable of hauling this chunky machine along at a respectable pace. There's a 155 horsepower 2.0-litre petrol on offer too, but it is a rare beast.

The diesel comes in two strengths, 120 and 160 horsepower and the more powerful version managed 45.6mpg over the 800 miles of this test, which took in a lot of economy-sapping town work.

That counts as a decent result from an engine that sounds gruff at low revs but fades nicely into the background as the speed racks up. On the better roads this latest CR-V becomes an ideal long distance cruiser.

FAST FACTS

Honda CR-V 1.6 EX

Price: £35,280

Mechanical: 158bhp, 1,597cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 113mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 53.3

Insurance Group: 25

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 90,000 miles

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