Why would anyone choose a petrol-powered Honda CR-V? Actually there have been some grounds, none more compelling than the fact that, model for model, the petrol car is more than £2000 cheaper than the 2.2-litre diesel.

If, therefore, you were a low-mileage user, wanting the elevated seating position of an SUV but as little of the expense as possible, a petrol CR-V may have made a great deal of sense. However, all this was before the dawn of the 1.6-litre diesel. It asks for another second and a bit to get to 62mph, but it will reward you by travelling more than 20 miles further on each gallon of fuel while chucking in a free tax disc for good measure.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
In this class you want predictability and security, which the Honda delivers

For many, however, the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel motor will still be the one found slotted under the bonnet. As we shall see, it is not only more frugal than the petrol version but also, less predictably, given that it has more weight and less power, offers better performance.

That sounds like a mathematical impossibility, but it’s not. The petrol motor may have three extra horsepower but that paltry advantage fades to total nothingness when you consider that it develops just 141lb ft of torque at 4300rpm compared to the substantial 258lb ft made by the diesel engine at fewer than half the revs.

Not only does that make the diesel fractionally faster on paper (0-62mph is 9.7sec compared to 10.2sec for a petrol all-wheel drive CR-V), in the real world there’s really no comparison. While you’re wondering just how many gears you may need to drop to clear some traffic in the petrol CR-V, the diesel has already gone.

On the subject of gears, the five speed automatic transmission is determinedly old-school and, like all such gearboxes, therefore extracts a heavy price for its installation not only when you buy but every time you put you foot down or pull up to the service station. Acceleration to 62mph for the 2.2-litre diesel increases by almost a full second to 10.6sec with a commensurate increase in fuel consumption.

Top 5 Crossovers

  • Nissan Qashqai
    The Nissan Qashqai gets a new look and more functionality in an effort to attract a new generation of buyers

    Nissan Qashqai

    1
  • Ford Kuga
    Ford's targeting a class above with its bigger Kuga

    Ford Kuga

    2
  • CX-5's exterior has been shaped using Mazda's 'Kodo - soul of motion' design

    Mazda CX-5

    3
  • If the new CR-V looks more crossover than old-guard SUV it may be because the roofline is 30mm lower than before

    Honda CR-V

    4
  • Kia’s well priced compact soft-roader has been given attention-seeking looks

    Kia Sportage

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Lavishly-equipped, rugged-looking Peugeot 508 estate is a pleasant drive, but there are many more recommendable alternatives
  • 308 GT 1.6-litre petrol is priced from £24,095
    First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Peugeot's given the 308 the engine from the 208 GTi 30th and some chassis upgrades; we find out if the changes bring a bit of old-school Peugeot hot-hatch magic to this likeable family hatch.
  • Car review
    26 March 2015
    Does Suzuki's new city runabout have what it takes to succeed?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    Collins Performance has given the Fiesta ST 270bhp and 265lb ft, but has our favourite fast Ford been ruined in the process?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    The Seat Leon X-Perience is the closest thing to an SUV that you can buy with a Seat badge for now, blending estate practicality with off-road ability