herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

green giant

FIRST DRIVE: After 25 years, the latest CR-V stays true to its original form, writes Ian Mallon

HOW can you improve on perfection? Well, quite easily, as it happens.

The Honda CR-V is now an astonishing 25 years old, making it one of the world's oldest compact SUVs.

As it celebrates its quarter-century, it is also enjoying a rebirth in an ongoing evolution that continues to define style and sophisticated driving from the unsung creators of the best-build cars in the world.

The latest generation is the best-looking yet, improving on the previous, which, to be honest, was a little bit of a stylistic let-down.

This time around there's a stonking new front bumper and grille and wrap-around headlamps with uniting chrome that surrounds the foglamps up front and on the tailgate.

beauty

The new alloy design is perfection itself, adding to this overall look of aggressive beauty.

These design tweaks have produced a far more intelligent and beautiful looking car, and that style inside is improved as well, with softer furnishings and a more attractive dash.

Honda has been jumping up and down a little about its Connect touchscreen audio and information system which it says makes it "The Connected Car".

I am a big fan of tech, and when car manufacturers get this right on board it truly gladdens the heart.

However, in this case it was only okay, and for some reason I couldn't get Bluetooth connected on my new iPhone6+.

I also found the radio and entertainment unit a little user-unfriendly, but I am a bit fussy when it comes to these things, so others might find it fine.

Quibbles over, let's get down to the drive experience, and there can be no complaints here.

There is greater stability and increased responsiveness; add in the improvements to suspension and the feel of the CR-V on the road is excellent.

Honda has made some dramatic changes with this car, changing the dated 2.2 i-DTEC powerplant and replacing it with a tried and tested 1.6 i-DTEC burner.

So what does that mean? Well, more power and improved emissions, which add up to cheaper tax bills - €390 down to €270.

There is a 2WD model, a 4WD two- stage sequential turbo- charged version and a new 9-speed automatic version, though I have read reports of its sluggish response, but I have not driven it myself.

As a practical family carrier, the CR-V does all the carrying bits with ease. Lots of room on board for humans too, and a nice big boot for the extras.

Being the original of the SUV species, the fourth generation CR-V is staying true to form when it comes to practicality.

The clever Magic Seats which both fold up and flat make carrying awkward loads a doddle, while the cabin is peppered with cubby holes and massive door bins that can carry anything from litre bottles of water to colouring books or, as you're more likely to have these days, tablets and DVD players.

Other highlights include a panoramic glass roof, front and rear parking sensors and camera, rain-sensing wipers, warning lights on the wing mirrors and cruise control.

So, in this milestone year for the Honda CR-V, this is a car truly deserving of its place as a pioneering world leader.

The Honda CR-V starts from €31,995.

To celebrate the arrival of the new C- MAX, Ford is offering free parking packs for the Zetec and Titanium which include fold mirrors and parking sensors - a saving of €350.

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