Honda will always have a special place in my heart as a manufacturer of super-reliable motorcycles – but that’s just a fraction of the story.

A trusty Honda 70 was my first mode of powered transport and a 500cc twin was my first powerful motorcycle and both never missed a beat.

But millions of people worldwide have all sorts of other reasons to feel kindly towards the Japanese multinational corporation whose products stretch way beyond being the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, to generators, mowers, outboard engines, robots, aircraft and back-on-form Formula One engines.

Among all this diversity sits Honda the carmaker and even that is a far from straightforward story. At one end of its range lie super-sensible models like the Jazz and at the other, the sensational NSX supercar.

Arguably somewhere in the middle sits the new CR-V sports utility vehicle, now with sportier, more muscular styling, its biggest cabin space yet and the first hybrid CR-V version in Europe.

That combination of 143 horsepower 2.0-litre petrol engine and twin electric motors delivers refined cruising, superb acceleration and a realistic prospect of achieving 50mpg consumption in day-to-day driving.

Ride quality, steering response, and control while cornering have all taken a step up, with the new car proving altogether more comfortable and quieter.

Part of that is down to the first use of an ‘active noise cancellation’ system which uses a pair of in-cabin microphones to monitor for low-frequency noises from the powertrain and then create ‘reverse phase’ sounds to cancel them out.

An increase in wheelbase has led to a noticeable increase in interior space, while the upgraded cabin has had a complete overhaul of both instrumentation and switchgear.

Now just one central touchscreen is fitted, along with a seven-inch digital instrument display showing a large digital speedometer and power gauge with a charge status indicator.

The top-of-the-range 4x4 model driven here came with no fewer than 21 buttons on a pair of steering wheel thumb pads, along with a head-up display.

The lower half of the display is dedicated to what Honda calls a ‘content zone’, you can scroll through to choose from a variety of information, including navigation instructions, audio track information, smartphone contacts, all-wheel-drive system status, and vehicle maintenance information.

It also features a graphic of the current power flow, indicating the vehicle’s power source at any given moment, status updates on battery charging and an ‘eco guide’ to suggest more efficient driving techniques, with economical driving rewarded by green leaf icons appearing in the display.

The conventional automatic gearlever has been replaced with a bank of switches. Drive, park and neutral need a button push, while reverse requires a pull-up action. It looks more complicated than it is and you quickly get used to it.

The entertainment system now integrates with smartphones and Apple CarPlay allows you to get directions, make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music from the touchscreen or by voice using Apple’s Siri commands and the car has four USB charging points.

With all the advanced technology on board, the wood effect trim on the doors and lower dashboard feels like a less successful addition to the cabin.

Yet more technology works unseen using radar, cameras and other sensors to warn and help in potentially dangerous scenarios, from automatic braking and lane departure warning, to traffic sign recognition and even a system that automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to that indicated by the last road sign.

Other neat features make the new CR-V even more practical. The 60:40 split-fold second-row seat backs fold and drop to give a huge flat loading floor and the height of the powered tailgate can be programmed to avoid contact with low ceilings.

Clever touches, reliability and genuine innovation are clearly not limited simply to the cars built by Honda. Once described by the late F1 world champion Ayrton Senna as the greatest company in the world, its influence is hard to escape, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Auto facts

Model: Honda CR-V 2.0 Hybrid EX – AWD CVT

Price: £37,885 as tested

Insurance group: 25 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 51.4mpg

Top speed: 112mph

Length: 460.3cm/182.7in

Width: 185.5cm/72.8in

Luggage capacity: 497 litres/17.5 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 12.5 gallons/57 litres

CO2 emissions: 126 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 90,000 miles