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Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC review (2013 onwards)
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC: summary
Honda’s smaller, cleaner 1.6 turbodiesel CR-V crossover delivers efficiency improvements, but it still lags behind the best in class on performance
What: Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC
Where: Prague, Czech Republic
Date: July 2013 Price: £22,000 - £23,000 (estimated)
Available: On sale autumn 2013
Key rivals: Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX5, Volkswagen Tiguan
We like: claimed efficiency, practicality, sweet manual gearbox
We don’t like: interior lacks flair, narrow useable engine power band
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC: first impressions
Most manufacturers offer a smaller capacity, more efficient turbodiesel version of their crossover contenders, but until now, Honda hasn’t had the means to do so.
That’s all changed following the arrival of the firm’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine, debuting in the Civic hatchback last year – it was a long time coming, but at last Honda has applied it to its CR-V off-roader.
The manual gearbox feels slick and nicely mechanical
And on paper, at least, it looks promising. 120hp and a useful 221lb ft of torque are teamed with 119g/km CO2 emissions, two-wheel drive (to help keep the latter number down) and a six–speed manual transmission.
So, for the school run and pootling down to Sainsbury’s, the 1.6 diesel CR-V’s improved efficiency over the 2.2-litre version and identical unwavering practicality means it should be a success where it matters most. But does the downsized engine deliver enough performance?
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC: performance
The answer is, just. Maximum pulling power comes in at 2,000rpm and delivers a decent amount of urgency – but there’s nothing much below this point, meaning you can get caught out on the exit of tighter corners if you’re not in the right gear.
The CR-V grips better and wants to lapse into understeer less
As a result, you often have to work the gearbox, which is no bad thing at all, as the shift action feels slick and nicely mechanical – although a wider spread of power would be nice.
The engine gives the majority of its performance by 3,000rpm (even though maximum power is produced at 4,000rpm) at which point revving it harder just creates more noise rather than any great increase in acceleration.
The 0-62mph time is respectable at 11.2 seconds, and it genuinely is surprising how quickly you can hustle the CR-V along with only 120hp, but for a similar price, you could also have a more powerful and faster 150hp 2.2-litre Mazda CX5.
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC: ride and handling
The new 1.6-litre diesel is the lightest engine in its class, according to Honda. It’s 47kg lighter than the larger 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit, with the omission of the CR-V’s four-wheel drive system for this car cutting the kerb weight by another 69kg. This lack of mass is entirely noticeable.
The car feels keener to turn in, with the reduction in weight slung out over the nose less eager to draw it away from your chosen line. It grips better and wants to lapse into understeer less.
Space, practicality and comfort are the big Honda's three main virtues
This has been brought about by increasing the suspension damping at the front and the stiffness of a few vital components at the back. It reduces roll and yields a flatter cornering platform, while remaining safe and secure all the while.
The CR-V focuses on practicality and flexibility – and in 1.6 diesel guise, even greater efficiency, too. But while it is improved dynamically, it’s still not that exciting to drive. The new powertrain is well integrated, but there are no flourishes to elevate your pulse rate.
That said, just like its larger-engined sibling, it is comfortable and relaxing to punt around town, with good levels of road and wind noise suppression making it a strong motorway cruiser, too.
In a similar fashion to the two-wheel drive petrol model Peter drove back in August last year, 99% of the time you won’t notice the difference – even in the wet, thanks to a glut of stability systems.
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC: interior
This is where the CR-V really wins ground on its rivals. Space, practicality and comfort are its three main virtues, with the Honda boasting 589litres of boot space, rising to a maximum 1,648 litres of luggage capacity with the 60:40 split rear seats folded.
The CR-V will return 62.8mpg combined with 119g/km CO2 emissions, meaning £30 road tax per year and a claimed range of 802 miles per tank
Dropping them is easy, too, and reveals an almost fully flat load space. Thanks to a low boot lip and a uniform space, packing anything from heavy, rigid boxes and cases to squashy overnight bags or shopping should be simple.
The dashboard is best described as functional; everything feels solid and reliable, but just not that special. That’s partly because it doesn’t look it, either. While it’s superbly comfortable in the front and in the rear – thanks to plenty of head and legroom – the cabin lacks flair.
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC: economy and safety
Economy is the point of the 1.6 CR-V and it succeeds here. It’ll return 62.8mpg combined with 119g/km CO2 emissions, meaning £30 road tax per year and a claimed range of 802 miles per tank.
The newest CR-V inherits the 2.2’s Econ mode, which modifies the throttle and climate control settings to help minimise fuel consumption, as well as an Eco Assist system – showing drivers just how fuel efficient they are behind the wheel – and stop-start as standard.
As a variant of Honda’s current, fourth generation crossover, the 1.6 diesel CR-V receives the same five–star Euro NCAP crash safety rating as the rest of the range.
Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC: the MSN Cars verdict
The new 1.6-litre car is the sweet spot in the current CR-V line-up, offering huge levels of practicality and decent efficiency – for the majority of CR-V owners the engine will be perfectly adequate, too.
But next to some of the competition it lacks grunt. Mazda’s 150hp 2.2-litre diesel CX5 emits the same 119g/km CO2, is two whole seconds quicker to 62mph, offers similar practicality and is priced from £22,995 – exactly where Honda is pitching its new CR-V.
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