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 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 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.