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Detroit show: Honda points to baby SUV

Slashing design: This teaser sketch of Honda’s Urban SUV Concept shows a strong crease line down the side.

Honda sketches its compact SUV future with new Jazz-based crossover for Detroit

Honda logo12 Dec 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

FRESH from teasing a future re-born Civic wagon in a presentation at the Paris motor show in September, Honda has slipped out a sketch of yet another crossover concept that it says will appear in the flesh at January’s Detroit motor show.

Called the Honda compact Urban SUV Concept, the latest vehicle is expected to be based on the new-generation Jazz platform due next year and built – for North America, at least – in a new factory planned for Mexico.

A hint at the basis for the vehicle is given by Honda when it says it will use “Honda’s centre-tank layout”.

This is the term used to describe the architecture of the Jazz – also known as Fit in some markets – and other Honda small vehicles such as the Japanese-market N Box mini wagon.

A sub-CR-V SUV would give Honda a weapon in the fast-expanding compact SUV market against the likes of Subaru’s XV and Mitsubishi’s ASX.

Honda also describes the Urban SUV as a global model, meaning there is a chance we could see it in Australia, although perhaps not sourced from Mexico.

15 center imageFrom top: Honda Civic wagon concept sketch from Paris motor show current Honda Jazz.

Honda Motor Company CEO Takanobu Ito said in September that the new Jazz would be one of the key models in Honda’s plans to double sales to six million vehicles by 2017.

He said the next Jazz would have a number of derivatives, including an SUV.

Mr Ito announced new plants in Mexico (opening in 2014) and Yorii, Japan, (opening next year) dedicated to building these small vehicles.

American reports say the Mexican plant will build three body styles for North America – five-door hatch (Fit), sedan (known in Asia and Australia as City) and the unnamed SUV.

GoAuto has been told by Honda Asia executives that a Jazz-based mini people-mover is also under development for production in Indonesia for ASEAN markets, and perhaps for export to Australia.

Honda says the Detroit-bound vehicle will have a “sporty and dynamic SUV profile with a spacious interior”, but it has not disclosed other details such as powertrain or dimensions.

The dark sketch shows a dramatic crease down the side, reaching from the kink in the C pillar almost to the front wheel-arch, appearing to tie the vehicle together.

The line also helps to set the styling apart from the bigger Civic wagon, which is expected to be based on the European Civic made at Swindon, in Britain.

As Honda Australia imports its Civic hatch range from Swindon, it is possible the model will be offered to this market, although small wagons do not sell well here.

Such a vehicle would be a spiritual successor to the Honda Civic Shuttle – a Civic-based all-wheel-drive wagon of the 1980s.

The new Civic wagon and Urban SUV are all expected to benefit from Honda’s new range of Earth Dreams petrol and diesel engines and transmissions, including hybrids.

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