Honda started producing its own diesel engine for the UK in 2003, something that many other manufacturers had long thought was an essential offering in the European car market. Some would say that that is quite late, but the newcomer – once it finally arrived – was built to an exceptional standard, as you might expect from the trusted Japanese manufacturer. Popular from its start, the first diesel engine afforded drivers a capacity of 2.2 litres. This original engine was subsequently upgraded by a newer version which, however, remained at the engine same size. Since then, it is this version that has been the only option for Honda customers who wanted a diesel engine in their car. With a reputation for reliability and exceptional power delivery, why would Honda offer a second?
Well, the answer is that the engineers in Japan and at their UK base in Swindon reckon that they can improve on it. The latest version, launched this autumn, has an even better fuel efficiency output which can still deliver plenty of power, despite being smaller, at 1.6 litres. This four cylinder turbo-diesel version also beats its predecessor in terms of carbons emissions, too, something that more and more British motorists consider when making their choice of car. Launched by Honda in the Civic 1.6 i-DTEC and the new CRV 1.6 i-DTEC diesel, both fuel efficient cars still pack a punch, in terms of power. In the Civic version, for example, expect 120 PS of power at 4,000 rpm. When you consider this figure, set against an offering of 78.5 mpg over a combined cycle, it is pretty impressive. With a six speed transmission, the 1.6 i-DTEC is not sluggish either and is capable of a top speed of 129 mph when fitted in the popular hatchback.
However, the true test of the smaller engine has to be in the heavier SUV, where you’d expect power to be more of an issue. After all, it doesn’t matter how fuel efficient your SUV is on the motorway if it feels underpowered when driven on steep country lanes where you are constantly braking and accelerating. Nonetheless, Honda’s new CRV diesel still matches up to its big brother. It produces no less than 118 bhp and will achieve 60 mph from a standing start in a little over 11 seconds. Okay, so if you are used to driving the 2.2 version, then there is no doubt you will be able to detect the difference. However, for cross town driving and cruising along a trunk road there’s no appreciable loss of power. Indeed, it is under these driving conditions where you notice the really big difference that the engine offers – in your pocket.
Simply put, Honda’s 1.6 diesels get you further down the road between stops for re-filling. The technicians at Honda reckon that the new version of the i-DTEC, even when fitted in the larger CRV, will achieve in excess of 62 mpg. Of course, on urban roads this figure may have be reduced, but this is a remarkable figure when you consider the economy rates of other SUVs in the same class. In terms of torque, it also beats the competition, too, producing 300 Nm. So long as it proves to be a reliable as its predecessors – and there is no reason to think that it will not be – then this latest version of their diesel engine may be as long-lived as its bigger brother.