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Honda Australia looks to Britain for diesel CR-V

Made in Britain: The diesel-powered CR-V, which will arrive here by mid-2013, is built exclusively at Honda’s Swindon plant in the UK.

Diesel versions of next-generation Honda CR-V to be sourced from UK, not Thailand


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24 Jul 2012

HONDA Australia will source its first diesel-powered variant of the CR-V from Britain next year, splitting production of the compact SUV between the UK and Thailand for the crucial new fourth-generation model.

The volume-selling petrol model, due in Australia in October, will continue to come from Honda’s massive Ayutthaya plant outside Bangkok, where it will be produced for this market in both two- and four-wheel-drive configurations for the first time.

The move to Britain for the diesel helps decentralise Honda product sourcing away from Thailand, which was badly affected by floods last year, cutting up to 80 per cent of Honda Australia’s stock.

The splitting of CR-V between the two countries mimics Honda’s current arrangement with the Civic small car, with the sedan sourced from Thailand and the hatchback from the Swindon plant in the UK.

Honda Australia has confirmed that the diesel engine offered here from around the middle of next year will be the same 2.2-litre i-DTEC turbocharged unit offered on the UK-spec vehicle.

That engine is a reworked version of the unit used in European versions of the previous-generation model, and not a member of Honda’s all-new and more efficient ‘Earth Dreams’ engine line-up first previewed at the Geneva motor show in February this year.

This means the first Honda in Australia to get an Earth Dreams engine will be the Civic hatch, with an 88kW/300Nm 1.6-litre diesel unit to debut in that model range in 2013.

The revised 2.2-litre diesel found in the new CR-V produces 110kW of power and 350Nm of torque and, unlike the petrol-engined models, will be available at launch only with all-wheel drive.

Both five-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions are likely to be offered here, the latter with a fuel-saving automatic engine idle-stop feature.

Claimed fuel consumption has been cut on UK models by as much as 10 per cent, with the manual returning a claimed 5.8 litres per 100km and 153 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (6.6L/100km and 175g/km for the auto).

Sourcing the diesel version of the CR-V from Swindon – the UK plant is the only Honda facility to produce diesel cars – rather than Thailand is less cost-effective for Honda Australia than the geographically closer Thailand, with which Australia has a free-trade agreement.

Honda Australia spokesman Lindsay Smalley told GoAuto that, while the diesel would definitely command a price premium over the petrol, the company would match its competitors in the diesel segment which has become increasingly popular in Australia.

“We’ve certainly done a lot of studying on what a reasonable step up to diesel is, and what the market can absorb, and we are confident our pricing will reflect that,” he said.

With the diesel engine unlikely to be available in front-drive configuration at launch, expect the oil-burning variants to be pitched at the top end of the all-important new CR-V series, which Honda is hoping will return to annual sales of more than 10,000 – a level it has not achieved since 2007.

Meanwhile, Honda Australia has confirmed the petrol engine offered from launch will be a reworked 138kW/221Nm version of the existing 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder, which is also used in North American CR-Vs.

This engine is again likely to be offered here with both five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions, with a front-drive option for the first time as well as all-wheel drive.

The addition of two-wheel drive means the new model is a strong chance to undercut the current starting price, which kicks off at $28,090 plus on-road costs.

A smaller and more frugal 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine used in the UK and revealed last week, which returns impressive fuel consumption figures as low as 6.6L/100km, is also under consideration.

The UK-market CR-V previewed last week shows how the Australian model will look when it lands here in October, with Honda claiming to have made strides in interior space and NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), aerodynamics and safety.

While based on the same platform as the departing third-generation model, the new model features a new electronically operated all-wheel-drive system, a stiffer bodyshell, upgraded suspension front and rear, and the latest-generation electric power steering system.

Despite being 30mm lower and 5mm shorter than its predecessor, the new model has a 140mm-longer load length, freeing up an extra 148 litres of cargo space with the rear seats folded. The CR-V can now accommodate 589 litres in the back, expanding to 1648 litres with the back seats folded flat.

The launch of the new CR-V from later this year cannot come soon enough for Honda Australia, with sales of the current model down 66.6 per cent to the end of June, though much of this drop can be attributed to flood-related supply problems that slowed sales to a trickle between March and May.

Honda Australia moved 537 CR-Vs last month and newly bolstered supplies are likely to provide adequate run-out stock in the lead-up to the new model.

The company is currently offering special driveaway deals on CR-V with pricing from $29,990 including 17-inch alloy wheels, rear park assist and Bluetooth.

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