Gareth Butterfield drives Honda’s new hybrid CR-V
THERE’S a lot to like about the Honda CR-V. It’s a stylish, practical, comfortable and refined SUV that has evolved well and has become one of the best options on the market.
But there’s no longer a diesel version. Instead, Honda is now offering this, the CR-V Hybrid, which draws a little bit of its propulsion from an electric motor. This lightens the load for the petrol engine and, in theory, reduces fuel economy and lowers emissions.
Honda were pretty much pioneers of this technology, believe it or not, and gave us its first hybrid car back in 1999, so we’ve had a surprisingly long wait for its SUV variant – but has our patience been rewarded?
Firstly, this isn’t a plug-in hybrid system. The two-litre Atkinson cycle engine takes on the bulk of the work and also charges up batteries that provide an electric range of 1.2 miles.
I know what you’re thinking, that won’t get you to the shops and back, but that’s not really the point.
Conventional hybrids use their motors to provide a little extra oomph, a short burst of electric-only driving, or just to harvest energy from the movement.
In the CR-V’s case the motor is connected to the wheels, when it’s called upon, through a single-speed transmission and this connects through an automatic clutch to the front wheels.
In its full EV Drive mode, you can use just the motor, but you can switch all the electrics off in Engine Drive mode – or mix it up in Hybrid Drive.
The joy of hybrids is that they suit several aspects of the average daily commute. On the motorway, the engine does the hard work, but as you hit traffic, or enter the urban sprawl, the motor will cut in and use up the energy you’ve been storing on the faster stretches.
Honda’s system is as good as any I’ve tried. And while hybrids do make more sense in urban settings than on the open road, you will find it’s possible to average 50mpg, depending on your driving style and the journey you’re on.
So unless you’re a die-hard diesel fan you probably won’t miss it. Here’s a new option that’s quieter, as cheap to run, cheaper to tax, and far better for your environmental conscience.
Apart from a series of buttons that replace the gear lever, and some instrumentation on the new LCD instrument display to let you know how the battery’s doing, there’s very little difference inside the hybrid CR-V compared to the conventional versions.
The infotainment screen isn’t the best on the market and the driving experience isn’t exactly exciting, but the CR-V has always been focused on comfort and refinement and it still delivers that in spades – especially while you’re whirring along silently in EV mode.
You can still opt for a two-wheel-drive or four-wheel drive version and build quality is generally top notch.
Prices for the hybrid version command around a £3,000 premium over their purely petrol counterparts, so you’ll have to crunch some numbers to work out if it’ll pay its way for you. But company car users are likely to find its costs appealing.
Don’t choose a Honda CR-V Hybrid for excitement and you’ll not be disappointed. CR-V buyers tend to stay loyal to the tried and tested formula because they seek comfort, reliability and practicality with a little bit of individual style.
And now you can have your favourite recipe served up with a little less of a thirst. That’s what hybrid vehicles are all about.