WHEN IT comes to reliability, there’s nowt wrong with the Honda diesel – but it was an engine game to which the company was a Johnny-come-lately.

Now it has decided to back it’s original assertion that diesels are smelly and don’t cut the mustard environmentally. So, I guess it was with some delight that the Honda execs signed off the new CR-V as only available with a petrol engine.

What would once have been the ideal home for a big lump of a torquey 2.0-litre diesel, now has a nifty little 1.5-litre petrol, with turbo, lurking in it nether regions.

The CR-V is one of the company’s best sellers – and no wonder, as it has gained a reputation for sturdiness, load carrying capacity and being a general all-round good boy – and as a SUV shape, found favour in a lot of rural areas because of that.

It now comes in five or seven seater guises, and with a choice of two or four-wheel-drive variants. I recently tried out the two-wheel-drive version and try as I might, it couldn’t be faulted. You would be forgiven for thinking that this was, indeed, an all-wheel-drive model given its poise and ability to handle some rough potholes on a rather tame, but nonetheless off-road scenario.

The latest shape which houses the petrol-only diktat from Honda is easily recognisable as not too different from the outgoing model, but a noticeably greater rake on the front windscreen and a tidying up of the front and back lighting gives it a fresh look.

A few years ago, a petrol engine of 1.5 litres would not be deemed big enough for what is quite a sizeable car. But add a turbo which brings it up to 171bhp and it feels pretty nifty, doing the 0 to 62mph test in 9.3 seconds. A 44.8mpg average fuel economy slightly sweetens the deal for losing out on the 50mpg-plus promised by a modern diesel.

The six-speed manual is one of two gearbox options – the other being a CVT transmission. That version gets a 19hp power boost over the manual just to get it close to the same ‘action’ given the CVT’s proclivity to whine and soak up power.

As you would expect, the noise levels are down because there’s no diesel clatter – though Honda did work hard on that aspect – and that’s also helped by noise cancelling equipment around the car. So it felt a quiet ride around the stony path that is the Three Lochs Road, near Aberfoyle.

Inside, it has tonnes of space, especially in the five-seater version I tested. It’s slightly longer and wider than the old model and it shows.

There is a quality feel to the interior, – apart from some rather obvious plastic wood trim which was quite yucky. If you ain’t going to do it right (like Jaguar), then don’t do it!

In a practical sense, a new two-position boot floor has a flat height surface for loading larger items, while a hands-free power tailgate gives convenient loading access. Then there’s the usual 60:40 split in the second row rear of seats to up the ante on load space.

The SE model tested – second up the ladder on a scale of four – comes with 7-inch touchscreen, which has a row of shortcut buttons and a single volume knob which makes it pretty easy to use. That spec’ also gets a rear view camera and parking sensors all round, plus rain sensing wipers and auto dim rear view mirror.

The CR-V ranges in price from about £25,500 to £35,000, with the SE, five-seater version on test having a base price of £27,855. To sum up, if you don’t particularly need a 4 x 4 but like the security and pot-hole absorbing nature of an SUV, then this Honda is a worthy contender for your vote – it gets mine.