What is it?
A new diesel engine from the market leaders in petrol power.
The CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC is a necessity though, if Honda hopes to make a bigger impact in the compact SUV marketplace in the UK and Europe. The lightweight 1.6 i-DTEC delivers 118bhp and 221lb ft of torque, all while returning an official combined consumption figure of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km.
Honda claims it’s not benchmarked its new engine against any rival as the targets would have been too low, although Mazda’s 2.2-litre turbodiesel in the Mazda CX-5 offers the same 119g/km CO2 output yet delivers a healthier 149bhp and 280lb ft of torque.
The four-cylinder turbodiesel unit itself weighs in 47kg less than Honda’s 2.2-litre i-DTEC, while the removal of the four-wheel drive system means the CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC removes a further 69kg from the CR-V’s mass.
What's it like?
That weight reduction has allowed the chassis engineers to sharpen up the dynamics of the Honda CR-V, with mixed results. A thicker diameter rear anti-roll bar, increased toe stability of the trailing arm suspension at the rear allied to softer springs yet firmer damping at the front have added some agility to the CR-V’s make-up. The steering is quicker and more accurate, whle stability and control are also improved. There’s a small pay-off in ride quality, but this greenest of CR-Vs is also the most appealing behind the wheel.
Up to a point, that is. The 1.6 i-DTEC’s improved agility actually highlights the deficiencies in the 1.6-litre engine’s delivery. Peak power comes at 4000rpm but despite the 221lb ft torque figure arriving at 2000rpm it never delivers much mid-range urgency. That makes you busier with the six-speed manual than you would be in a European rival - or that Mazda. Corners you might expect to exit in third often require second, and if you’re after more than just moderate acceleration on the motorway you’ll need to drop a ratio, or two, too.
Adding revs only adds more noise and little increase in pace. If there is a sweet spot in the delivery it’s between 2500-3000rpm, but even there the 1.6 i-DTEC lacks the sort of effortless punch you’d get from its contemporaries.
That’s only likely to be exacerbated when it’s fully loaded, part of the CR-V’s appeal being its spacious cabin and capacious boot. The interior is well considered in its layout, if unremarkable, the short seat cushions lacking under thigh support and some of the plastics feeling a touch insubstantial. Honda has yet to confirm pricing, but the 1.6 i-DTEC will be offered in S, SE and SR specifications with prices anticipated to start at £22,000.
Should I buy one?
That probably depends if you or your company are paying for it.
It’s difficult to ignore those headline figures when they impact on your tax bill, but you will miss the easier performance of the 2.2 i-DTEC. Adjust your expectations slightly and the 1.6 i-DTEC is competent enough, though its improved dynamics only highlight the new engine’s relative lack of performance. Its CO2 emissions are matched by several rivals too, not least that Mazda - which knocks two seconds from the Honda’s 11.2 sec 0-62mph time - and costs much the same.