An impressive revitalisation of a global SUV favourite. The cabin is bigger and more flexible, although the engine lets it down a little. "The load space is excellent and it drives well," Stuart Martin said at the COTY judging.
Despite a smaller footprint, the updated SUV (which sits on the old car's platform) has enough space to sit behind my own driving position, although the lowered rear bench does put the knees a little higher than ideal. Cargo space is ample - aided by one-touch fold-down seats - and it has a full size spare across the range.
The console and instrument layout is easier to decipher and use, as well as being informative - two centrestack screens display trip and infotainment info, as well as the satnav display, while a third screen in the instrument binnacle adds to the information on hand for the driver.
The interior is let down a little by some hard plastics and overly-firm leather seats, but the cabin is quiet and the ride quality is good. The powerplant is willing but needs revs on board, something the driver can dictate using paddleshifters.
Press-ahead driving is not this car's forte but up to a point it is comfortable in corners, without excessive bodyroll, but dynamically the CX-5 remains unassailed as the segment leader for on-road dynamics.
The electric power steering feels over-assisted and doesn't give much feedback to the driver about what's going on under the nose - it's not as much of an issue in an SUV as it is in a sportscar, but back-to-back drives in the old car displayed the differences in steering, as well as improved ride quality and insulation.
Missing? Some of the active safety features that are in the car in other global markets, but also there's no stop-start fuel saver on offer here, something that is also in the CR-V elsewhere.
Another disappointing discovery was roof-mounted child seat anchor points - as well as the strap for the centre lap-sash seatbelt in the rear seat. A full boot of luggage behind a cargo barrier is not tether-strap friendly in this setup.
Honda CR-V VTi FWD auto
Price: from $29,790
Engine: two-litre four-cylinder
Transmission: five-speed automatic, front wheel drive
Power: 114kW @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 190Nm @ 4300 rpm
Fuel use/emissions: 7.7 l/100km, tank 58 litres 91RON; 179g/km
Brakes/safety systems: Driver and front passenger airbags, front seat side/thorax, curtain airbags, stability control (Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Traction Control), rear camera
Dimensions: Length 4545mm, width 1820mm, height 1685mm, wheelbase 2620mm, cargo volume 556 litres, weight 1488kg
Wheels/tyres: 17in alloy wheels