IT'S BEEN a 'steady Eddie' model for Honda, but its best selling SUV, the CR-V, has just undergone a considerable revamp which will more than maintain its importance to the brand in the UK.

What's more, the CR-V is at the moment built here in the UK and its solidity and build quality is a testament to the professional manufacturing outfit based in Swindon.

It's reputation thus far has been built on a versatile 2.2-litre turbo diesel which made Honda a veritable tour-de-force in the industry, despite it being a Johnny-come-lately to producing oil burners. Its replacement in the latest version is a wee cracker of a diesel, a 1.6 unit which is more powerful and more frugal than the outgoing motor.

Its success is based on its two-stage turbo unit which brings in power on demand and it is rated at 157bhp. That's a fair whack more than the old engine and fuel economy is better by 15%. Crucially, emissions are also well down, by 13%, bringing it into line with the latest engine regulations.

There is a slight price to pay with emissions if you opt for the excellent nine-speed auto transmission, but this is way better than the five-speed auto it replaces. Honda's re-design of the gear-shift knob takes a bit of getting used to, with a very short-throw and wireless action that needs a few moments to master, but when you are used to it, it's as sweet as a nut.

A manual six-speed remains an option and a two-wheel-drive diesel CR-V, available with a manual transmission, will continue to be equipped with the 118 bhp 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine, reconfigured to allow emissions to drop to 117 g/km.

Reducing weight from its essential mechanicals - the engine and gearbox - also brightens up the CR-V's handling. Though you would never describe the Honda's performance as dramatic, it does push along quite well and handles with at least estate car-like accuracy.

Its underpinning have been modernised, with better dampers, uprated front suspension bushes and revised geometry. A slightly extended track also helps produce a more stable vehicle when cornering and less understeer.

The dashboard looks very nifty and the driver's scan tells you that visibility is top-notch. The touch-screen stuff is really easy to use and setting up a mobile phone via Bluetooth is little problem.

On the practical side, a one-stop button frees up the rear seats to fold down, which ups the rear capacity from 589 to 1648 litres of useful flat space to get all of your luggage in.

Honda's reputation for reliability and longevity means that it's not ever going to be at the budget end of the market. The test car for instance - the CR-V EX 9AT 4WD - worked out at £34,120 on the road.

For those buying the new engine, you can approximately add £100 per model to the 'old' price and the range will start from about £29k. But it is one economy drive that will pay off, because you can expect more than 60mpg from the new engines. Even the old versions are good value in that department, with 55mpg for every gallon of diesel!