Smaller engine makes a big difference – €7,000 to be exact
Man proposes; God disposes. There I was all set for a wicked week of long journeys with this brand new super-economical engine under the bonnet of the CR-V. I was looking forward to seeing how the 1.6-litre diesel would do on consumption because Honda claims it can do up to 62.8mpg.
I ended up getting to do one long drive and several, I mean several, tough grinding sessions in and around Dublin. The type of drives that have you at the wheel for hours and the engine working at its least efficient. A good test though, I hope you agree.
The CR-V is a roomy, comfortable SUV/crossover. The big story now, though, is that they have put this new 1.6-litre diesel in it – before this there was a 2.2-litre (fine motor in its own way).
And because the 1.6-litre is smaller, lighter, easier on the juice and emits fewer noxious gases, the price has plunged. Any day you can knock more than €7,000 off the price of a new car is a good one. That's a lot of money in one fell swoop.
The devil is in the detail. For example, the engine is 48kg lighter – that's the equivalent of a smaller passenger's weight. The car overall has shed 116kg – that's two smaller passengers.
And with road tax down from €390 to €200, this is an all-round decent proposition for a big, roomy motor that doesn't bother any more with 4WD (only in 2.2-litre versions now).
You would want to be super sensitive to notice the tweaks they've made to the suspension but the steering was a bit crisper, no doubt about that in my mind.
So far, so good, but I felt there was a price to pay for all the frugality. You will accuse me of nit-picking but I noticed it so it goes down on the debit column.
There was no doubt the engine was a bit flat at motorway speeds in fifth and sixth gears. I had to change down too often for my liking to pick up power for overtaking or just greater speed. Alright, I had a reasonable load on one leg of the longer journey, but even when it was just myself I detected it too.
I didn't have to do that at all in most of the drives in and around Dublin And, frankly, it is not much of a price to pay for that lower cost of purchase.
We had lots of room and there is a fine boot. We had to lower the back seats and by golly did that give us an idea of the sort of space you can exploit.
It was not nearly as sharp a handler as, say the Ford Kuga, but all of a sudden having a 1.6-litre diesel casts this in a serious new light against the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi Outlander, Audi Q5 or BMW X3.
Sadly, I didn't get anywhere near the sort of fuel consumption Honda claims is achievable on combined urban/rural driving. They reckon it is possible to get 1,280 kilometres on a full tank (58 litres).
All I can say is that, aside from one or two relatively minor complaints, the smaller engine has made a big difference.
So may I propose you put it on your shopping list if you're in the market for a family crossover in 2014?
1.6-litre diesel SUV/Crossover, 2WD (120bhp, 119g/km, €200 road tax, claimed 62.8mpg, 4.5litres/100km).
Price from €31,995. ES version on test: €33,995. Remember delivery and related charges are extra.
Standard equipment includes cruise control, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys, electric windows, USB connectivity, folding rear seats, stop/start, daytime running lights and remote audio controls. ES grade (from €33,995) adds front fogs, automatic lights and wipers, reversing camera, parking sensors, Bluetooth HFT and electrically folding mirrors. ES Sport spec (from €37,495) adds leather seats, Bi-HID headlights, 18-inch alloys, heated front seats, active cornering lights, roof rails and DAB radio.