Diesel adds to FR-V's six appeal

We like the FR-V. Unless you really need seven seats, Honda’s take on the Fiat Multipla is our first choice of medium-sized people carrier; somehow two rows of three seats works better than the two-three-two formation.But where the FR-V really delights is with its staggered layout. The middle seat in both rows can slide, giving a double V layout. This increases legroom all round, encourages communication between front and rear passengers, and the passenger in the front middle seat can imagine they’re driving a McLaren F1. Expect family arguments over who sits here.If that wasn’t enough, the FR-V has a fine ride quality combined with an engaging drive. Convinced yet? Well, to seal the deal the FR-V now gets Honda’s impressive 2.2 diesel. Already doing sterling service in the Accord and the CR-V, it works well in the FR-V. It’s smooth, free-revving and out punches its rivals for torque, so it’s curious that the claimed performance isn’t better – the Ford C-Max and Mercedes B200 CDI beat the FR-V to 60mph.As with the installation in the CR-V, the diesel unit has lost some of the Accord’s refinement. The mechanical configuration is the same, so this must be caused by a reduction in sound deadening. Although the engine is vocal at high revs, the problem starts when you initially apply the throttle, when there’s a loud rushing, whirring mechanical sound unlike the normal turbodiesel whoosh and altogether more intrusive. Generally, though, the 2.2 is a fantastic engine and a sensible addition to FR-V range.Downsides? That eagerness to rev harms economy – 44.8mpg is a bit below the class average – and there’s no auto option. As with the petrol models, two versions are available: the SE for £17,205 and the Sport for £17,905. These prices match those of rivals, although you won’t get the discounts which are available on some competitors. The extra cash needed for the FR-V does, however, buy a better car.Jamie Corstorphine

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19 February 2008

"44.8mpg is a bit below the class average"

Tell me a Honda that isn't thirsty (Jazz excepted)?

Where has all Japanese design went to?

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