Good on and off road

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By Nick Jones

Not wanting a large 4x4 folks, then this Honda CR-V could well be just what you do want.

Now in its third generation, it’s much more than your standard compact 4x4, with a raft of technological improvements and styling advances.

I tested the 2.0-litre i-VTEC 150bhp petrol version, perhaps one of the best choices of engine now, although the diesel sounds pretty tempting.

I’ve tried recently the Freelander 2, the RAV4. a few Nissan 4x4’s... and they’re all pretty good – as they have to be nowadays.

In this market, the Honda has much to live up to, and none of them come cheap.

So with 150 horses on tap, the CR-V gets to 60mph in just over 12 seconds on the way to a top speed of 120mph.

My test car had the manual transmission but I would say opt for the automatic for an easier drive and fractionally quicker 0-60mph time.

One thing I noticed is that the VTEC engine loves to be revved to its peak power delivery speed of 6,200rpm.

Should you want more overtaking poke and feel the need to rev the engine less, the diesel (which is more expensive) may well be your preference.

In the emission stakes, the Honda fairs rather well. All the petrol versions emit just 190g/km, while the diesels fair better at 171g/km. On top of that, the fuel returns are generous too; expect 44mpg for the diesel, just under 36mpg for the petrol.

The CR-V is no ‘proper’ 4x4, more like a car that has a four-wheel-drive system that can handle mediocre obstacles along the way... a soft-roader, if you will.

The odd pitted drive or trip up a country lane will pose it no problems but don’t expect it to haul you over rough moorland terrain or to pull a laden horsebox up a sodden field.

If the front wheels start to slip, the rear ones are engaged to provide more traction and the Honda system sends more torque to the rear set, handy indeed if the mud becomes muddier or the snow becomes heavier. Otherwise, front wheel drive is the norm.

It handles rather well, partly down to the independent suspension all round and, not that I noticed but the press pack advised me, the centre of gravity has been lowered by three centimetres.

Lots of different specification grades can be had, so the top ones are distinguished by full body-coloured bumpers, larger alloy wheels and when you peer inside you notice DVD, sat-nav, full leather seats and panoramic roof.

Lower spec cars are actually well-equipped and there is even more room in which to transport luggage, riding tack or dogs around if you are of the tweed set.

More likely you’ll only need the extra space when transporting the family to the ferry for the annual jaunt through continental Europe.

The boot has a double-deck storage system created by a discreet shelf.

You can drop the rear seats down 60/40 if you wish or you can specify a 40/20/20 split arrangement.

This CR-V is a great all-round package and because it’s a Honda it will have solid residuals.

Prices start at £21,455.