On show at the Frankfurt motor show, the CR-V Hybrid Prototype is a precursor to the production model that will go on sale in mid-2018.
The Hybrid Prototype also shows the new styling of the broader CR-V line-up for the first time in Europe.
The fifth-generation CR-V, which rivals the Volkswagen Tiguan, will first go on sale with Honda’s 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo petrol engine with a six-speed manual or CVT transmission. The hybrid powertrain will be introduced later.
Honda has ditched a diesel engine option for the model in Europe, explaining that the move was because the focus of its "R+D activity, investment and expertise is away from diesel and towards electrification. The first example of which is the launch of new CR-V".
It added: "From this point onwards, all new Honda models launched in Europe will feature electrified technology."
The new hybrid has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors – one electric propulsion motor and one electric generator motor - fitted with a single fixed-gear ratio, all of which Honda said creates “a seamless feeling of power and torque”. No power figures have yet been provided.
It uses a system called Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD). This, Honda claims, determines how to use fuel and electrical energy in the most efficient way, meaning drivers do not need to adjust between the three driving modes: EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive.
i-MMD can use as many as all three motors in its quest to produce the most fuel efficient propulsion. The main motors are a 2.0 litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine, a powerful electric motor and a separate generator that occasionally doubles as a motor to provide the 2.0 with an efficiency enhancing load.
It's an ingenious system designed to allow the Atkinson engine to operate within its optimal power range as often as possible. Atkinson engines are very efficient, operating close to the ideal fuel:air ratio, but do not produce strong low-end torque, this compensated for by the electric motor.
Honda has yet to release power outputs, performance and consumption figures, but they should be good. The system is also compatible with plug-in technology, which Honda says it is developing.
The new CR-V is wider, taller and longer than the previous version. It has thinner A-pillars and a larger wheel and tyre combination. There are also sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, and the nose adopts the latest Honda family look with its signature headlight graphic.
The hybrid CR-V will go on sale in early autumn, shortly after the new CR-V goes on sale in the UK. It will replace the diesel in the CR-V range, and is expected to cost slightly more. Europe will be among the first regions to get the hybrid, which will be some compensation for the very delayed introduction of this CR-V generation, which has been on sale in the US for many months. The outgoing entry-level petrol CR-V costs £23,475.
Honda has previously sold four hybrid models in the UK: the Insight, CR-Z, Jazz hybrid and Civic hybrid, none of which are still on sale. The CR-V Hybrid is the first time the manufacturer has offered a hybrid in an SUV.