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By Jonathan Crouch
Added 27th January, 2017
'Kaizen', the Japanese approach to 'continuous improvement', characterises every aspect of this much improved ninth generation Civic. This car may look similar to the MK9 model we first saw in 2011 but under the skin, it's a far more competitive prospect. The upgraded infotainment set-up, the more comfortable driving experience and the wider range of trim options, plus the availability of an estate bodystyle and a Type-R hot hatch variant - all of it makes a big difference to this car's appeal.
All of these things are welcome, but they didn't dilute the individual appeal of a package that remains distinctively different in its era in the Focus-sized family hatchback segment. The sporty feel of the engines, the brilliant 'Magic Seat' practicality of the cabin and the distinctive looks all continue to underline the way that Honda isn't afraid to go against the grain when designing a car of this kind.
'Kaizen', the Japanese approach to 'continuous improvement', characterises every aspect of this revised tenth generation Honda Civic. The smarter styling is welcome, but otherwise, it's as you were. The sharp handling is a selling point, as in this MK10 model's spacious interior. And it's made a big difference that Honda has finally got its house in order when it comes to petrol power, the 1.0 and 1.5-lite VTEC TURBO units good enough to go up against the class best.
A lot of boxes have been ticked then, yet it's clear that Honda has also worked hard to maintain this car's more characterful approach in this segment. Add in British build quality, a great driving position and strong standards of safety and media connectivity and you've got a potentially very appealing package. Dynamic functionality was Honda's goal in creating this car. They may well have achieved it.
In 2015, Honda's fourth generation CR-V evolved into something cleverer, classier and much more efficient. Targeting family Crossover models as well as small lifestyle-orientated SUVs, it's a strong package if you're looking at petrol power or an entry-level 2WD diesel. What changed with the post-2015-era facelift though was that buyers got the option of hi-tech automatic transmission and the more sophisticated pairing of high performance diesel power and 4WD. In other words, in this guise, the CR-V sharpened-up its act. As a result, it's a hard car not to like as a used buy.
It's easy to imagine yourself as target market for a car like this CR-V. You've a couple of kids, an active lifestyle, a need to haul things around and an aversion to rather dull large estate cars. This fifth generation model is likely to be an extremely easy thing to live with, the kind of car you'll own, then wonder how you managed without. That may not be a recipe for media headlines but it's an approach that other brands could certainly learn from, explaining why so many CR-Vs are bought by folk who previously owned one.
These are people who'll heartily approve of the changes that Honda has made to this MK5 model - the smarter looks, the improved engine efficiency, the classier feel and the seven-seat option for those needing it. All of these things ought to allow the CR-V to reach out beyond its traditional customer base. And probably will.
Honda's HR-V 1.5 Turbo Sport brings a bit of 'hot hatch' to the small SUV segment. Jonathan Crouch tries it
There are so many compact SUV models now available on the used market that you wonder whether any of them can really offer anything different. Refreshingly, this HR-V does. It's a touch more spacious than other cars in this class, with superior practicality you can really make the most of thanks to the brilliantly flexible 'Magic Seat' system that offers MPV-style interior flexibility.
Alongside sophisticated design and class-leading safety, this set-up aims to justify premium pricing and if for you it does, then there's plenty else to like about this Honda. Essentially, this second generation HR-V is everything its predecessor should have been, attractive, refined - and efficient too, courtesy of the diesel engine option the MK1 model ought to have had but never got. That car was very much about style over substance. Here, in contrast, buyers are offered a much more complete product. It will appeal to those in search of the cleverest and classiest car of this kind from its era. For these people, this car will, in Honda's own words, be 'precisely, pleasingly perfect'.
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