The new Honda CR-V, which has been revealed at Geneva motor show, will be offered with the options of seven seats and a hybrid for the first time.
There will be two powertrains available: a 1.5-litre turbocharged VTEC petrol engine, available with either a manual or CVT gearbox, or a hybrid 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with two electric motors - one for propulsion and one electric generator motor - which was previewed by a prototype version at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.
Honda UK boss Dave Hodgetts predicted that an equal split between petrol and hybrid sales in the UK would take three years.
The new model does not get a diesel, a dramatic move given that 60% of current CR-V sales in the UK are diesel. Hodgetts said he believe plenty of people would turn to petrol instead, but added that "higher mileage drivers would wait for hybrid". Deliveries for the petrol CR-V start in autumn, while the hybrid - only available on the five-seat version - arrives in 2019.
The gearbox on the hybrid is a new single fixed-gear ratio transmission, which Honda claims ensures smoother torque delivery. A system called i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) manages the powertrain, so drivers don’t have to switch between the three drive modes - EV Drive, Hybrid Drive and Engine Drive. The Atkinson cycle engine relies on the electric motor for low-end torque, but the motor can also assist the 2.0-litre petrol engine when required.
Honda claims that fuel economy for the petrol-only model will be class-leading but stopped short of revealing official figures; these will be released nearer the car’s sale in autumn. The car’s underbelly has been specially sculpted to improve aerodynamics and improve fuel economy.
The brand describes the CR-V’s chassis as "the most sophisticated" one on the model yet, with the main goals being improved ride quality and better capability off-road.
Honda claims that the CR-V seven-seater with a third row of seats will have class-leading access and leg room for the rearmost seats. Outwardly, it’s grown in every direction to accommodate the extra interior space.
Hodgetts said take-up of the seven-seater would be "lower than you'd think", but added that plenty of customers have previously asked why the brand does not offer a seven-seater.
The car’s ground clearance grows to as much as 208mm for four-wheel-drive petrol cars, contributing to what Honda claims will be true off-road potential.
Tech highlights on the new CR-V include two 7.0in displays - one in place of traditional dials and the other serving as the main infotainment display. A powered tailgate also features, with a system that prevents the door from scraping low ceilings.
The model, which has only had subtle exterior changes, is already on sale in America, but this is the first time it's been seen in European specification.
Prices are expected to rise, given the model’s size increase over its predecessor, meaning a higher entry point than the current car’s £23,475. Deliveries for the petrol CR-V will start in autumn, while the hybrid arrives in 2019. Rivals will include smaller SUVs such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai, as well as larger offerings including the Nissan X-Trail and Ford Kuga.
The CR-V was Honda's third biggest seller in the UK last year, after the Jazz and Civic. Once the new model is on sale, Hodgetts is hoping for sales of 15,000 annually in the UK. He admits the majority of buyers will be loyal Honda customers, but hopes the introduction of the hybrid variant and seven-seat option will bring new buyers to the brand too.