The door of the Fiesta swings open, pushed by a woman’s bare foot. Laughter comes from inside the darkened car. She steps out then leans in to say something which causes more hilarity. As she talks she steps into her shoes and wriggles her wrinkled skirt down over her bottom. She rebuttons her blouse, runs her hands through her hair and hops back in. The door slams and the engine starts…
I’d been walking my dog (honestly), and I wondered if the couple had been having sex. Think about it: laughter, darkness, a secluded lay-by, that rumpled skirt and – the clincher – a Fiesta. According to a recent poll by BBA Reman of more than 2,000 drivers, the car most people have had sex in is a Ford Fiesta. Does this tell us more about Fiestas or the people who tend to own Fiestas? I’m not sure.
I pondered this as I loaded the dog into the back of the palatial Honda CR-V I was test-driving. The boot is colossal – there’s 1,669 litres of loadspace (odd how manufacturers measure space in litres, but what else would you use? A quick Wiki yields 94 different units of volume, including firkins, rundlets and hogsheads). If you fold down the back seat, which you can do in seconds by pulling a single easy-grip handle, there’s room in the back of the CR-V for, oh, six and a bit hogsheads. Certainly there’d be room for a copulating couple. They’d be more than comfortable and the little sidelights would be quite romantic…
To be fair, despite selling more than five million vehicles since it was first launched in 1995, the CR-V is not known for setting your pulse racing. It’s a quietly sedate, brilliantly functional “soft” roader. But still waters run deep and this new model has something to boast about. Honda has put the ultrafrugal, superlight, downsized diesel engine it developed for its Civic into the SUV. This new engine is named Earth Dreams; it is 1,598cc and only powers the front wheels, so this 4Ã—4 is only really a 2Ã—4. But that saving means this CR-V is more economical and eco-friendly than almost any other family off-roader on the, er, road. The loss of full “green-lane” capability is more than offset by the fact that fuel economy reaches unscaled heights for such a large car. Honda claims a coquettishly optimistic figure of 62.8mpg – maybe, if you’re driving on the moon. But in mixed conditions and with a loaded car I still did average a none-too-shabby 54mpg. The remarkable engines will be built at Honda’s UK manufacturing base in Swindon and they will churn out up to 500 units a day.
Does a small engine in a big car work? Thanks to a raft of technologies and weight-saving strategies, the answer is yes, incredibly well. The car flows nicely on the motorway and never feels underpowered, yet the diesel still sounds agricultural enough to convince you that you’re at the wheel of something fruitier at low speeds.
Inside, the CR-V is comfortable, conservative, rewarding, grown-up. Nothing is showy, yet there is no sense of being short-changed either.
It doesn’t feel like a car people will have sex in. But if they do, I’m sure it will be comfortable, conservative, rewarding and grown-up.
Email Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MartinLove166
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk