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Honda fends off challengers with new CR-V generation 

THE CR-V has been a huge success for Honda with more than five million sold across the world since it was launched in Japan in 1995 – arriving on European roads two years later.
There have been rising sales in the small SUV sector since the original CR-V made its debut and more and more competitors are now looking for their share of the market.
But Honda has managed to retain the model’s appeal with second and third generation CR-Vs – and this month marks a new chapter in the vehicle’s history.
The fourth generation CR-V has just arrived on UK roads, emerging from the company’s Swindon plant where European production was moved to in 2000 to meet growing demands.
The vehicle has evolved in many ways over the years as new, higher standards in performance, efficiency, comfort, quality and styling are reached.
I got a chance to drive the new – look CR-V before it went on sale and reckon that the changes made will help boost the model’s ap-peal.
It’s a smart, stylish looking vehicle and buyers can, for the first time, get two-wheel drive versions.
The CR-V is fractionally smaller, its length reduced by 5mm and height by 30mm, but interior space has been improved.
Higher quality material add to the roomy cabin’s fine finish and owners won’t be disappointed with what they get at the back.
Loading is made easier with the 25mm lower lip on the massive boot, which increases access to an area of 589 litres.
That’s enough to take two mountain bikes or four golf bags – even with the seats in place.
Another improvement is a one-action fold down rear seat and this increases the flat load area to 1,648 litres.
Emissions and economy are improved in the 2.0 i-VTEC 153bhp petrol and 2.2-litre 148bhp i-DTEC diesel engines while power has increased.
You can get 50.4mpg on combined driving with a CO2 of 149g/km in a diesel model while petrol units return 39.2mpg and 168g/km.
I sampled diesel versions of the new model and found the engine extremely quiet and responsive.
This unit powers the CR-V to 62mph in 9.7 seconds and has a top speed of 118mph.
The SUVs certainly handled as well as many saloons on a rather hilly and winding route.
The six-speed manual gear box is also slick and allowed quick movement up and down when required.
There’s lots of room for driver, front passenger and three in the rear and all round visibility is excellent.
There are four trim levels and standard equipment is generous. On entry S models this includes dual zone climate control, cruise control, one-touch folding rear seats, daytime running lights, 17-inch alloys.
You get quite a lot more for the extra £1,500 you would spend on an SE model and this includes leather steering wheel and gear shifter, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, rear view parking camera, electric folding door mirrors, six speaker stereo and Bluetooth hands-free telephone.
Another £2,400 takes you up to the SR and additional equipment includes half leather and alcantara interior, heated front seats, DAB radio, colour-coded roof rails, privacy glass, dynamic cornering lights, 18-inch alloys.
On the top-of-the-range EX you will get keyless entry and start, electric driver seat with memory, leather interior, power tailgate, panoramic glass roof and sat nav.
With prices ranging from £21,395 to £32,650 (EX with auto), the CR-V’s improvements will help to fend off the ever-growing list of competitors.