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All-new Honda CR-V gets European debut – we almost don’t notice

Published: 06 March 2018

► New Honda SUV for Europe
► Twin-motor hybrid power
► Clever seats, lots of space

This is the all-new Honda CR-V, getting its European debut at the 2018 Geneva motor show. Honestly, it really is. That genuinely isn’t a picture of the old one.

Honda says the new CR-V ‘raises the bar in terms of interior quality, refinement and spaciousness’ – let’s hope that’s right, because at first glance it certainly isn’t raising any pulses.

Oh come on, it can’t be that dull…?

Ok, ok, there are important changes here. We’ll gloss over Honda’s claim that it has ‘a fresh and sophisticated exterior design’ and instead concentrate on the fact it ‘boasts slightly larger exterior proportions’.

Rear view of the 2018 Honda CR-V - looks a little bit... Vauxhall?

This, combined with a longer wheelbase, means there’s more room inside for passengers and luggage, while the thinner A-pillars mean it’s easier to see out. These also contribute to improved aerodynamics, helped by the new bumper design, carefully crafted undertrays and Active Grille Shutters.

More significantly still, the new CR-V will be the first Honda SUV with hybrid tech sold in Europe.

So the new CR-V is a Hybrid?

Not exclusively, but it does get Honda’s latest Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid system, which pairs a 2.0-litre (downsizing who?) i-VTEC petrol running the more fuel-efficient Atkinson cycle with two electric motors.

This system doesn’t use any kind of conventional transmission, but instead features a fixed single gear ratio much like a pure electric car. Honda reckons this is both smooth and economical. We admit it: we’re intrigued.

Front view of the 2018 Honda CR-V - have you spotted the difference yet?

Before the hybrid arrives in 2019, however, the new CR-V will first go on sale in late 2018 with a 1.5-litre VTEC petrol turbo – which promises strong performance and class-leading fuel economy (although quite what’s meant by ‘class’ here isn’t yet clear – it surely won’t match rival diesels).

This is available with a standard six-speed manual gearbox or an optional CVT automatic. We strongly recommending you choose the former.

Is the new Honda CR-V four-wheel drive?

Both the regular petrol and the hybrid CR-V are front-wheel drive as standard, but they can both be upgraded to Honda’s latest all-wheel drive system.

Called ‘Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System’ – this is not only exceedingly snappy, it’s properly followed by a TM no less – this is said to give the CR-V ‘genuine all-terrain capability’.

All versions of the new model get a 38mm increase in ground clearance, so this may not be quite as hyperbolic as it first appears. Greatest ground clearance of all is 208mm for the AWD 1.5-litre petrol.

What’s the new Honda CR-V’s interior like?

Honda’s claiming best-in-class space efficiency, with increased room for people and a longer, wider boot. This gets a two-position floor and a hands-free powered tailgate that can be programmed to avoid low ceilings; not a mistake you’re likely to make twice.

Honda CR-V 2018 interior - dual 7.0-inch screens ahoy

The dashboard features twin 7.0-inch displays (seems a little small for a car launching in 2018) plus a dedicated air-conditioning cluster that’s described as ‘simple’ – a neat riposte to the crazy touchscreen obsession some rivals seem to be suffering with.

More exciting still, there’s ‘three-mode’ centre console storage (what?) and single-action ‘dive down’ 60:40 split-folding second-row seats.

Behind these a third row of seating is also offered, complete with ‘exceptional leg room and heel step height’ and a comfortably angled seat back. This is the first time third-row seating has ever been offered on a petrol CR-V.

I’m detecting a suspicious lack of the word ‘diesel’ here…

Too right. Honda has so far made absolutely no reference to diesel engines in this new CR-V.

That’s not to say an i-DTEC won’t make an appearance at some point, but we strongly suspect Honda will be pushing hybrid sales pretty hard.

Honda CR-V 2018 - will there be a diesel?

We drive the new CR-V very soon. In the meantime take a drool over the Honda Urban EV electric city car concept, which has just been given the green light for production during Honda’s 2018 Geneva motor show press conference.

Honda Urban EV: form a disorderly queue

A-Z of the Geneva motor show on CAR magazine

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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