24 May 2002

HONDAS ALL-ROADER GETS A REVAMP

Hondas CR-V gets a useful

upgrade, but theres still

no diesel on offer, says

John Henderson

THE looks may be from the same mould as the other Japanese SUVs, but are more stylish than the old car and give it a stronger road presence. Inside, the old cars acres of dull grey plastic have been evicted in favour of well-finished black in interesting shapes, offset by brushed chrome trims and combined with better quality fabrics.

Yet the old cars practicality remains, with plenty of useful stowage, a fold-down tray between the front seats and a watertight underfloor stowage bin in the back. Its top doubles as a picnic table, which is larger and easier to use than before.

Though the car is only 45mm longer than the old one, it has more interior space for people and luggage. The split-fold rear seats can also be slid forwards for more load space while carrying passengers and the minimum load volume rises from the old cars 374 litres to 527 litres.

Power is from a quiet 2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine, which uses the latest generation of Hondas variable valve timing and lift system. Power is up 3bhp to 150bhp, but, more significantly, torque is up 7lb ft to 141lb ft peaking 500rpm lower at 4000rpm. 98% of that is available from 3000rpm making it a lot more flexible at low speeds than the previous model, suggesting better towing and off-road characteristics. Honda has not yet decided whether to have a diesel.

Honda sees the CR-V as more all-roader than off-roader. Though its 205mm ground clearance is on a par with a Discovery, it has no low ratio gearbox or traction control. The car is normally front- driven but if the fronts start to lose grip, power is automatically, progressively sent to the back and vice versa. It reacts quickly enough to enhance on-road handling and should cope with all but the muddiest tracks. But you rely on ABS alone to come down slippery slopes.

The CR-V will not replace the farms workhorse Defender or pickup, but it combines a refined, fun road car with a practical load carrier with enough off-road ability to save you going back to the yard when all you want to do is check a fence.

&#8226 Models SE and better equipped Sport SE.

&#8226 Engine Four-cylinder, 16-valve petrol, 1998cc.

&#8226 Output 150bhp @ 4000rpm; 141lb ft @ 4000rpm.

&#8226 Transmission Five speed manual or four-speed auto (£900), no low ratio box.

&#8226 Drive Full-time intelligent 4WD with automatic torque distribution.

&#8226 Brakes Discs, ventilated at front, ABS.

&#8226 Unladen weight manual 1485kg, auto 1515kg.

&#8226 Payload 425kg.

&#8226 Towing capacity manual 1500kg, auto 1200kg.

&#8226 Fuel consumption (Combined) manual 31mpg, auto 30.4mpg.

&#8226 Warranty Three years, 90,000 miles.

&#8226 Price SE £16,695, SE Sport £17,995.

2 litre petrol engine gains more power, but theres still no diesel on the horizon.