A lively hybrid engine, a roomy interior and muscular styling are among the Honda CR-V’s most endearing personality traits.

This improved version of the fifth generation CR-V is now only offered with a self-charging hybrid engine.

But that move makes a lot of sense, as the 2.0i-MMD petrol-electric hybrid is an impressive powertrain.

It strikes a nice balance between economy and performance, being very economical on the one hand but highly-responsive to throttle inputs on the other.

Stourbridge News: Honda CR-V

The Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) technology comprises two electric motors, an Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, an innovative transmission and three intelligent driving modes.

It is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive layouts, with the latter tested here.

The 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine has peak power of 107 kW (145 PS) at 6,200 rpm, and is supported by a powerful 135 kW (184 PS) electric motor with a 315 Nm (232 lb ft) torque output. The petrol-electric powertrain can propel the CR-V from zero to 62mph in 9.2 seconds.

Handling is trustworthy, with the CR-V feeling well-balanced through the corners. Steering seems sharper than on previous models, making for a more engaging drive.

The CVT gearbox is pretty smooth but can send the engine revs soaring under heavy acceleration.

Around town, at lower speeds, the CR-V is especially quiet while running in electric mode.

In terms of looks, the CR-V has retained its sophisticated exterior design.

Key features include the broad, muscular wheel arches, sharp contours on the bonnet and rear quarters, as well as the Honda family ‘face’ with its signature headlight graphic.

Stourbridge News: The CR-V catches the sun

The CR-V now feels more upmarket than before thanks to higher-grade materials used in the cabin and high levels of standard equipment.

This five-seater features well in the practicality stakes, with generous space for all occupants.

The CR-V’s wheelbase has been increased over the last model, allowing for greater interior space to the point where it can now be specified with seven seats rather than five.

It also benefits from a wide, deep boot with a long load bay, offering 497 litres with the seats in place - although that’s actually a little smaller than the previous model.

Cabin flexibility is boosted by a three-mode centre-console storage, and a single-action ‘dive down’ 60:40 split-fold second-row seat backs that enable fast, easy loading.

Stourbridge News: Honda CR-V

The updated infotainment screen, which is seven inches, is still a little lacking compared to some rivals, sometimes feeling sluggish and frustrating to operate.

However, it has been better integrated into the dash and now has a rotary controller to change the volume.

Meanwhile, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard on SE models and above.

Buyers should choose wisely when climbing the trim trail as you see some significant increases in price.

In conclusion, the CR-V has plenty of plus points. A spacious interior, distinctive looks and that impressive hybrid powertrain will certainly help to attract buyers.

Honda CR-V SR

ENGINE: 2.0i-MMD hybrid

PRICE:£38,390 as tested

0-62MPH: 9.2 seconds

MAX SPEED: 112mph

FUEL ECONOMY: 39.8 mpg

EMISSIONS: 161 g/km

TRANSMISSION: e-CVT and four-wheel drive