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.
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”.
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. The system is also compatible with plug-in technology, which Honda says it is developing.