After 18 years Honda in Swindon has finally stopped building its popular SUV, the CR-V, after a production run of exactly 1,209,174.

Not a bad record and I’m proud to be one of those 1,209,174 people who owns a Swindon built CR-V and I’m pleased to say it’s one of the best cars I’ve ever had.

But the new CR-V – the actual fifth version – will come to our shores direct from Japan, so there’s not going to be a drop in quality. At the risk of teasing the Swindon workforce, the quality might even be better!

Another element which also be disappearing is the diesel engine. Since production of the CR-V began in 1997 you always had the option of having a diesel engine. In fact the Honda 2.2 diesel engine was one of the best they ever made.

Now no longer will you have the option. And probably you’ll never get a diesel engine in any new Honda model in the future as the company is going down the hybrid route, with that engine coming to the CR-V at the end of the year.

There will of course be the 1.6 diesel option for the current Civic models, another brilliant engine. But be prepared to wave diesel goodbye.

Almost 3.5 million cars have been built by Honda in Swindon since they first came to the town in 1985 and in 2016 globally Honda reached the 100 million-unit milestone in automobile production since they first started in 1963 with the production of the T360 mini-truck and the S500 sports car.

Since then Honda has increased annual production, enhancing its line up and exporting their vehicles to an ever wider range of countries and including Swindon the company has 34 automobile production factories on five continents. While car production did not actually start in Swindon until 1992 – engines were built first – the factory at South Marston now provides work for 4,200 people.

The new generation of the CR-V raises the bar in terms of interior quality, refinement and spaciousness – including, for the first time, the option of seven seats on petrol models, although they will provide less than 10 per cent of the sales.

The chassis is also the most sophisticated ever created for a CR-V with exemplary ride comfort, as well as genuine off-road capability.

The new CR-V has a fresh and sophisticated exterior design, with broader, muscular wheel arches, sharper contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the latest Honda family ‘face’ with its signature headlight graphic.

Thinner A-pillars, sculpted front and rear bumpers, and under-engine and under-floor covers all help to make the new CR-V one of the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles in its class.

The new interior design incorporates a horizontal emphasis to the dashboard which features two seven inch displays.

There is a longer wheelbase and wider stance enable a significantly roomier interior plus a wider, deeper boot with a longer load bay. A new two-position boot floor enables a flat surface for loading larger items, while a Hands-Free Action power tailgate enables convenient loading access.

A new single-action ‘dive down’ 60:40 split-fold second-row seat means faster, easier loading.

Even though the diesel engine is now redundant new engines deliver impressive efficiency and driveability and the hybrid version comes at the end of the year.

This will be Honda’s Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid system, comprising a 2.0 litre i-VTEC Atkinson cycle petrol engine and two electric motors, to deliver efficiency and effortless driving.

The i-MMD system does not use a conventional transmission – instead, a more compact unit has a single fixed-gear ratio, to create a direct connection between moving components and a smoother transfer of torque.

For the moment the CR-V has a 1.5-litre VTEC TURBO petrol engine, which provides strong performance and class-leading fuel economy. Power is delivered via a six-speed manual gearbox, or an optional CVT automatic transmission tuned to deliver a more linear response.

The petrol and hybrid powertrains are front-wheel drive as standard, but both can be specified with Honda’s latest all-wheel drive which gives the CR-V genuine all-terrain capability. Ground clearance has been increased by 38mm for all variants, up to a height of 208mm for the AWD petrol model.

As you would expect the CR-V handles like a dream providing a touch of class which most SUVs don’t have.

The vehicle weighs in at a tonne and a half and there is a top speed of 130mph. The miles per gallon is around middle 40mpg with the hybrid likely going to do a lot more. The C02 emissions vary between 143 and 162g/km.

First deliveries of Honda CR-V fitted with the 1.5-litre VTEC TURBO petrol engine are expected in the autumn with hybrid models early next year.

Prices are yet to be announced but there are six variations and they will probably be between £27,000 and £38,000.