CR-V comes on stream as Honda forecasts 25pc boost in sales
Honda's latest CR-V goes on sale here this Friday. Always one of the more sought-after 'soft-roaders', it now has an electronically activated 'All Wheel Drive' (AWD) system that gives better grip more quickly when it detects a loss of traction.
I'm told it is quite a decent traveller in moderate off-the-road conditions.
They've also cut emissions by 12pc (from 171g/km to 149g/km) for the manual version, and from 195g/km to 174g/km for models with five-speed automatic transmission.
It is a bit lower (30mm), but cabin space is not affected at all. And they have fold-down rear seats which makes it possible to transform it from a five-seater to a big-load carrier at the tug of a handle.
At the moment the tried-and-trusted 2.2-litre diesel provides the power, but by this time next year you can expect a new 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine as well as two wheel-drive options.
As I said, the CR-V is popular with 7,000 sold since its introduction in 1996.
This has a high level of standard equipment which includes intelligent AWD, 17ins alloys, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, idle stop (manuals), remote audio controls, LED daytime running lights, six airbags, hill-start assist, USB and aux plug-in points for iPods.
Despite a depressed market, Honda haven't done badly at all. They have increased sales by 10pc -- an achievement of some magnitude when you consider the overall market is down by roughly 14pc.
If there is one car driving that boost, then it has to be the Civic which was introduced here in January. Here, the Civic 1.4-litre petrol's sales dominated (see diesel vs petrol debate in this section), although the Band A 2.2-litre diesel also accounted for 28pc of sales.
When you consider that 75pc of total market sales are diesel, the fact that the Civic did so well on petrols is testament to its pulling power too.
The new 1.6 diesel I mentioned will certainly shake things up. Its Band A emissions of 94g/km are hugely competitive. And it slots into the Civic range in January.
That will make a huge difference, with analysts at Honda forecasting a 40pc increase in Civic sales next year to 800.
They are also predicting a 25pc increase in Honda registrations next year in a market widely expect to be around 75,000 sales in total.