Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

The FR-V was launched with a choice of petrol engines - a 123bhp 1.7-litre VTEC and a 148bhp 2.0-litre. Both use Honda's variable valve timing VTEC engine technology, which gives great performance when you've got your foot down, but better economy when you're cruising. The 1.7 manages 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds and has a top speed of 112mph while the 2.0-litre offers slightly better performance, getting to 62mph in 10.2 seconds.

Both these engines were replaced by a single 140bhp 1.8-litre during 2007 which is more economical. However it is the excellent i-CTDi engine (introduced in 2007) which is easily the pick of the range, especially if you regularly have to cover long distances with a full load of passengers on board. There's lots of low down pulling power at low revs, meaning it's a relaxed cruiser or capable tow car, but it performs well too, hitting 62mph in 10.1 seconds.

A dashboard-mounted gearstick offers short, smooth shifts while an automatic option arrived in 2007 with the 1.8-litre petrol engine. It's an automated manual rather than a traditional auto, which is great for fuel bills, however smoothness and responsiveness suffer.

Thanks to a low centre of gravity, Honda has been able to give the FR-V a fairly soft suspension set-up without compromising its body control. It doesn't feel as nimble when cornering as a Ford C-MAX, but will be more than capable for most drivers, while it offers a far more cosseting ride than the Vauxhall Zafira. It's quite a wide car compared to most people carriers this size, which can be tricky when negotiating width restrictors but out on the road it's easy to drive and manoeuvre with light steering - the only problem is the rather thick rear pillars which can make parallel or reverse parking tricky.