7 July 2004

Honda has revealed its latest alternative to the Renault Scénic, Ford C-Max et al, and it’s called FR-V, for Flexible Recreational Vehicle. It will be sold alongside the six-seat Honda Stream – and joins the Fiat Multipla in featuring two rows of three-abreast seating, a fair amount of versatility and unusual styling. The FR-V is powered either by 123bhp 1.7 or 148bhp 2.0 petrol engines or, from spring 2005, Honda’s acclaimed 2.2 diesel. Both the 2.0-litre petrol and the diesel come with a six-speed transmission. Spawned from the same platform as the CR-V, the FR-V nevertheless employs a completely new floor pressing, to provide both a flat cabin floor and the wider track necessitated by the three-abreast seating. The FR-V’s track is wider than the Multipla’s, though it’s a couple of useful inches narrower overall. The two centre seats can be moved back and forth relative to the chairs flanking them, and both fold flat to form a table, while part of the forward seat’s cushion hinges to reveal a stowage box. There’s also a slide-out drawer below that. The backrests of all six seats recline, and the centre front seat and outer rears have Isofix child seat mounts. The rear-seat backrests fold to form a flat load deck, although their cushions do not lift first to form a protective bulkhead behind the front row. Nor are any of the chairs removable, but there is a decent boot – the pay-off for two rows of accommodation rather than three. Surprisingly, Honda predicts no more than four stars in the Euro NCAP crash test – a knee-threatening ignition lock and no seatbelt warning buzzer lose it a maximum fifth star – but three (out of four) for pedestrian protection. The FR-V will be manufactured in Japan, and will cost between £15-£17,000. Sales start in November and Honda hopes to sell 5000 a year in the UK.

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