GETTING behind the wheel of a Honda these days is a bit sad with the announcement of the closure of the factory in Swindon, which is fixed for 2021.

Relatively new to the Honda line-up is their hybrid CR-V, a pretty good piece of driving equipment.

It is a first for a Honda SUV in Europe and the all-new CR-V is available with advanced hybrid powertrain technology.

The Honda Hybrid Performance system features intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) technology comprising two electric motors, an Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and an innovative direct transmission delivering high levels of efficiency and refinement.

The CR-V Hybrid is equipped with an efficient 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine, a powerful electric motor and a lithium ion battery pack. The maximum output is 184 PS (135 kW) with torque of 315 Nm.

Rather than using a conventional transmission, a single fixed-gear ratio creates a direct connection between moving components, resulting in a smoother transfer of torque.

This format means Honda’s system is more refined than a planetary e-CVT typically found in other hybrid vehicles.

Honda’s unique i-MMD technology is so-named as it intelligently and automatically switches seamlessly between three driving modes to provide the highest possible efficiency.

These modes comprise: EV Drive which draws energy from the lithium-ion battery pack to power the electric propulsion motor and drive the wheels (with the petrol engine turned off); Hybrid Drive where the petrol engine powers a second motor/generator that supplements electrical energy from the battery pack and then Engine Drive which is a lock-up clutch mechanism that creates a direct connection between the petrol engine and the wheels.

In most urban driving situations, the CR-V Hybrid will automatically transition between Hybrid Drive and EV Drive for optimum efficiency.

In Hybrid Drive, excess power from the petrol engine can also be diverted to recharge the battery via the generator motor. The Engine Drive mode is the most efficient set-up for high-speed highway cruising.

At a moderate cruise, the CR-V Hybrid will typically run in EV Drive for more than half of the time, whilst at faster speeds, the car will be in EV Drive for approximately one third of the time.

The control software of the i-MMD system will constantly decide when to shuffle between these modes to maximise efficiency dependent on the situation and environment, without input from the driver.

Engineers on the CR-V Hybrid programme have worked hard to ensure that the transfer between power sources – including the engine stop-start function when stationary – is virtually imperceptible to the occupants. The smooth transfer of torque means there is no driveline shunt or undesirable feedback through the pedals or steering wheel, and the near-silent powertrain means the CR-V Hybrid boasts outstanding quietness.

The i-MMD system has been tuned to provide a linear feel through acceleration, with optimised calibration between throttle input and powertrain response, to ensure the engine noise matches the driver’s expectations.

Honda’s new CR-V Hybrid has a unique Vehicle Driver Information Interface screen that displays the current drive status and allows the driver to understand how the energy sources combine to power the vehicle.

The readout shows the lithium-ion battery charge, a graphic of the current power flow, and the recharging status of the system.

Production of the Honda CR-V Hybrid for European markets began last year with the first customer deliveries arriving at the beginning of this year.

Despite the fact that it is a Honda there are still faults. There are electronic glitches with some of the Siemens kit which is on board and Honda deserves a better Sat Nav than the one they use.

But all in all it is a good drive.

Prices start from £29,105 for a 2WD S grade and top out at £37,255 for an AWD EX.

Available with five seats only in eCVT with a choice of two and all-wheel drive, the hybrid version of the CR-V follows the standard Honda grading, rising from the entry level S to SE, SR and finishing at the top of the range EX.

As with the petrol version, standard across all grades is Honda SENSING; Honda’s suite of safety features which includes collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.

SE grade adds parking sensors and a rear view camera, while the SR and EX will also feature blind spot warning and cross traffic monitoring, while low speed following on the cruise control is available across all grades.

SR grade also adds smart entry and start, leather interior and active cornering lights; EX further includes a heated steering wheel, heads-up display, hands-free access power tailgate, heated rear seats and panoramic glass sunroof.