Which is all well and good, but if British products are not good enough, we consumers will go elsewhere for our cars.
The simple truth is that the majority of MG Rover’s line-up was based on designs that were too old to compete with much younger models.
So with Longbridge closed for business, where do you go if you want to buy British? Well, you could try Swindon, where Honda is building 190,000 Civics and CR-Vs a year, and with the addition of a diesel engine in the SUV, output could be pushed higher.
The firm has sold about 75,000 CR-Vs since it was launched in 1997, and almost half of those were of the current shape model. In 2003, Honda achieved a record year for the model with 15,000 sales and last year it was the best-selling petrol SUV in fleet.
In 2005, it expects to sell 25,000, with more than half of buyers opting for the diesel version.
Why? Because the i-CTDi engine (the same one used in the Accord) is so refined it almost makes the CR-V the default choice in this sector. Honda may have to add a few more shifts down at Swindon.
Cruising at 70mph, the engine is turning over at only 2,500rpm and there’s enough sound deadening to ensure engine noise doesn’t intrude into the cabin. For a vehicle of this size and shape, wind noise is impressively low, too.
Inside is a cabin using high-quality plastics and offering enough cubby holes and compartments to store all manner of items.
In Executive trim as tested here, you get all the goodies, including leather seats, climate control, electric seats and satellite navigation.
In fact, the only downside in the cabin is the handbrake, which stands erect on the centre console. As a piece of packaging, it works (the space it normally takes up is used for a folding tray instead). In practice, it makes releasing and applying it a strange experience, although I’m sure it gets easier the more you use it.
Sitting up high in the CR-V gives you a great view of the road ahead, but it does cause problems with ride and handling.
Now, I know people buying these types of vehicle are not bothered about how well they corner, but on a 350-mile drive from Peterborough to Sussex and back, I became increasingly frustrated at having to slow down to what felt like walking pace to negotiate a corner.
And on poorly-maintained roads, the ride can get a bit choppy, again meaning you have to slow down.
The problem is the car’s high centre of gravity and a very light steering rack, which gives you no idea of what the front wheels are doing. But for the vast majority of drivers, this won’t be a problem. They’ll simply enjoy the views from the lofty perch – and congratulate themselves on buying British.
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £22,607
CO2 emissions (g/km): 177
BIK % of P11D in 2005: 22%
Graduated VED rate: £160
Insurance group: 12E
Combined mpg: 42.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £9,925/44%
Depreciation 21.13 pence per mile x 60,000: £12,678
Maintenance 2.45 pence per mile x 60,000: £1,470
Fuel 9.77 pence per mile x 60,000: £5,865
Wholelife cost 33.35 pence per mile x 60,000: £20,010
Typical contract hire rate: £445
At a glance
We don’t like:
Three rivals to consider:
ALL four cars here are one off the top of the range and come loaded with standard equipment (although the Land Rover is the only one not to have leather seats as standard). Leading the way is the SVE-spec X-trail, with the Freelander Sport £340 further back. The Honda, which comes in Executive trim, costs £22,607 – £530 more than the Nissan – while the RAV4 is the most expensive at £22,782.
Land Rover £22,427
THE Honda, with its three-year/90,000-mile warranty, is the cheapest in terms of service, maintenance and repair costs, with fleets likely to spend £1,470 on garage visits over three-years/60,000-miles. The rest of the pack offer the industry standard three-year/60,000-mile cover. The Toyota is the closest challenger, costing £1,650, while the Freelander costs £1,746. The Nissan costs 3.04ppm, for an SMR bill of £1,824.
Land Rover 2.91ppm
WITH a claimed combined economy figure of 42.1mpg, the Honda is the clear winner on fuel costs. Visits to the diesel pump will cost £5,862 over 60,000 miles, compared with £6,198 for the Toyota, which returns 39.8mpg. The Nissan does 39.2mpg for a fuel bill of £6,294, while the Land Rover’s Td4 engine returns 37.2mpg and will cost £6,630. Obviously, fuel cost will vary according to driving style.
Land Rover 11.05ppm
AS all four cars are very similarly priced new, this sector will be decided solely on what CAP predicts each car will be worth in three years and 60,000 miles’ time. It estimates the Honda will retain 44% of its price new, thanks to it being a new model in the range. Next up is the RAV4 on 41%, which is a strong showing considering the model’s age. The Nissan is third, with a projected RV of 38%, it’s slightly lower front end price helping to move ahead of the Freelander, which CAP predicts will retain 39% of its price new.
Land Rover 22.79ppm
THE Honda takes a convincing victory here, finishing more than 2ppm cheaper than its nearest rival thanks to class-leading performances in fuel, SMR and depreciation costs. The CR-V will cost a fleet £20,010 to run over three years and 60,000 miles, which is £1,266 less than the Toyota. The Nissan finishes third with a cost of £21,702. Just behind the X-trail is the Freelander, which will cost a fleet £22,050 – around £2,000 more than the Honda. Interestingly, the wholelife costs of all four are similar to those of the top-spec diesel upper-medium saloons tested last month (Fleet News, April 21).
Land Rover 36.75ppm
Emissions and BIK tax rates
THE Honda is the only car here to meet Euro IV emissions requirements, meaning it escapes the 3% benefit-in-kind diesel supplement. This puts the CR-V into the 22% tax bracket, meaning a 22% taxpayer will face a monthly BIK bill of £91. The Nissan and Toyota are way back in the 28% band. The X-trail driver will pay £111 and the RAV4 owner £131. Bringing up the rear is the Land Rover with a tax bill of £128.
Land Rover 205g/km/31%
WITH such a clear advantage in running costs and driver BIK tax liability, it’s hard to argue against Honda’s new diesel-engined CR-V as a fleet proposition. The fact that it is also well built, refined and loaded with equipment only adds to its desirability. It has taken Honda a while to launch this model, but it has been worth the wait.
WINNER: Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDi Executive