Yes, it’s a Honda CR-V with a downsized diesel engine displacing a measly 1598cc. Our test car didn’t even have four-wheel drive to salvage fractional off-roading kudos. So, be still your beating heart, right?
Well, with five million CR-Vs sold since 1995 – and a fair few still tooling around, we’d wager – a cheaper, more economical, eco-friendly version of a bona fide sales winner is no bad thing. And since the 2.2 i-DTEC CR-V recently triumphed in CAR’s family 4x4 Giant Test, this new £22,800 CR-V-lite could turn out to be an unsung working-class hero. Read on to find out.
A 1.6-litre derv in a whacking great Honda CR-V. Do the numbers add up?
On paper, the numbers look fractionally the right side of ‘that’ll manage’. The 1.6 i-DTEC develops 118bhp and 206lb ft: that’s 30bhp and 15lb ft down on the 2.2 i-DTEC, but, the 1.6 has more in its arsenal than top trumps. Peak torque is on hand (or under foot) from 1750rpm – 250rpm lower than the bigger diesel, so the little brother’s not going to sprain its crankshaft every time you call for an opportunistic A-road overtake. More impressively, Honda’s new 1.6 is the lightest diesel engine in its class – its aluminium block helps deliver up to a 47kg saving versus the 2.2-litre.
I’m not convinced…
That’s not the end of the weight-saving tactics. The 1.6-litre CR-V is only available in front-drive configuration – don’t bleat, you were never going to green-lane it anyway, yet alone try and master the Dakar. Binning the rear driveshafts and adaptive all-wheel drive gubbins saves a further 69kg, meaning a total weight of 1543kg. That’s around 100kg less than a diesel Accord Tourer. For a full-size family crossover with a 1669-litre loadspace, we’d say that’s a good result for the entry-level CR-V.
Must make for decent economy too?
Indeed it does. Honda undermines its achievements with a typically optimistic 62.8mpg figure, which is as attainable outside of a laboratory as a CR-V reaching Everest base camp. However, in mixed driving, our test car cracked 49.6mpg, with a motorway cruising consumption of better than 50mpg. For comparison, our long-term 2.2-litre CR-V averages 40mpg. Factor in the 1.6 i-DTEC’s £30 road tax bill – compared to the 2.2’s £140 charge – and the weeny engine really starts to make a case for itself. As long as it’s decent to drive…
So, is the engine up to the job?
In a word, yes. There’s enough torque low-down to keep the CR-V flowing in regular traffic without ever feeling truly underpowered, even when merging onto motorways. If you’re used to the urge of the larger motor, you might miss it, but in isolation the 1.6 gets away with its diminutive outputs in everyday driving. The positive action of the six-speed manual gearbox is a real boon here too – it’s very easy to stay in the engine’s sweet spot. Unlike other downsized dervs, this one doesn’t appear to suffer a refinement deficit either. Sure, it’s still an uncultured, vaguely agricultural-sounding mill if you’re goading it, but in truth it’s no more vocal than the four-banger in the nose of a BMW X1 20d.
What’s the rest of the CR-V like?
Good without being remarkable, but certainly good enough. You can enjoy CAR’s video review of the Honda CR-V here, or click here to read its Giant Test victory against the likes of Toyota, Ford, and Land Rover. Meanwhile, CAR’s Jesse Crosse is running a CR-V as his long-term test car – it’s fair to say we’ve got Honda’s soft-roader covered off. Suffice to say it’s car-like in the extreme, from the driving position to the control weights and even the handling balance, and for the CR-V’s intended audience, that’s bang on the money. The cabin lacks any pizazz (The Power Of Dreams here is the snore-inducing design) but feels sufficiently family-proof.
Our test car was, somewhat inexplicably, given its August loan period, wearing a set of cold weather tyres. The squidgy rubber causes more sidewall-roll and an earlier transition to understeer than a summer-booted CR-V, and a touch more road noise. In any case, a good set of winters is a far superior cold weather companion than the adaptive all-wheel drive, regardless of what the brochure might have you believe.
>> Click here to read CAR’s back-to-back winter tyre test, including CR-Vs driven on summer and cold-weather rubber
And the price?
The most basic CR-V 1.6 costs £22,800: £1295 more than a 2WD petrol model and £1910 less than the cheapest 2.2-litre diesel. Our test car was a top-spec SE-T, which starts at £25,425. For the extra outlay, you get sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and leather touches inside.
So, you’ve made it to the end of a Honda CR-V 1.6 diesel review. Your reward? To know that this version isn’t just a worthy addition to the CR-V range – it’s the pick of the bunch. One caveat – try a diesel-fired Mazda CX-5 first. It’s more engaging to look at, sit in, and drive, if not as frugal as Honda’s UK-made effort.