With apologies to Charles Dickens, here is A Tale of Two Airports. When my daughter, who lives and works in Madrid, Spain, visits us here in Lancashire, I pick her up at either Manchester or Liverpool, waiting among so many others who are there to greet friends or loved ones in ‘arrivals’.

As many times before, I pitched up at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, to meet the 11.30pm flight, only to find the terminal in semi-darkness and devoid of human life. The destinations boards gave only arrival and departure times for the following morning. Whoops, I should have been at Manchester!

So I found myself giving thanks for the reassuring power of the Honda HR-V as I made the motorway sprint to Manchester Ringway, to collect my decidedly unamused offspring, who had made the journey after a full day’s work.

The HR-V is the little bro’ of the Japanese manufacturer’s big-selling CR-V, and it maybe flies a little under the radar in the model range. Well, that’s undeservedly so as the medium-sized SUV (sports utility vehicle) is an all-round accomplished motor.

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Honda have added some more power to the car with the flagship Sport, a 182bhp model with six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT (constantly variable transmission) automatic. The Asian Image test car sported the latter.

The 1.5-litre turbo-charged petrol motor joins the normally-aspirated 1.5-litre VTEC petrol and 1.6-litre DTEC diesel units in the line-up. All models feature a key HR-V selling point, the clever 'magic seat' configuration that makes the interior space as flexible as can be.

The car’s sporty credentials are there in the performance figures of 0- 62mph in 7.8s on the way to a top speed of 134mph, returning 39.8mpg and 162g/km (maker’s figures).  Helping transfer the increased power to the Tarmac is bespoke suspension and more responsive steering, giving a more dynamic feel to the car.

Complementing the hardware upgrades are some exterior changes courtesy of full LED headlight beams and a slim black front splitter. Black door mirror caps, side skirts, special wheel arch mouldings and matt black 18-inch alloy wheels. You also get twin exhaust pipes, plus smoked lamp clusters with LED illumination.

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Inside, a combination of soft-touch, wine-red leather and black fabric seating along with extended wine-red swathes on the dashboard add a touch of sporting elegance and distinguish the Sport from the rest of the HR-V range. 

The level of equipment is truly impressive, including front fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, heated seats, heated power-folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a rear parking camera, climate control, leather for the steering wheel and gear knob and a complete package of safety kit. As well as autonomous braking, this includes 'high beam support', forward collision warning', a 'lane departure warning' system and 'traffic sign recognition'. 

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And then there’s Honda's 'VSA' vehicle stability assist' system, plus the usual ABS braking set-up with a 'brake assist' feature to help in any emergency stops by alerting following motorists by automatically activating the hazard-warning lights. 

The 'magic seat' system is made possible by the car’s centre-mounted fuel tank layout which frees-up the floor of the cabin for all kind of interior permutations. They include 'tall mode' where the front of the rear seat-base rises to be locked in a vertical position, giving a cargo height of 1,240mm from floor to ceiling. It's ideal for tall, fragile stuff or perhaps a hefty item of equipment.

This emphasis on convenience and ease-of-use is emphasised by the rear hatch with its wide cargo opening and low loading-lip giving access to a spacious boot of 431-litres capacity.

The car is a pleasure to drive and feels more dynamic than its counterparts in the range, without sacrificing comfort. Like all Hondas, there is a feeling of great structural integrity and high-quality mechanics.

The car is also a touch more spacious than others in this class, with superior practicality too.

It’s a clever and versatile motor, now with enhanced sporting appeal.

Price: £29,340 (inc pearlescent paint).