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Detroit show: Honda’s baby SUV to go global

Right on: Honda’s Urban SUV Concept will go into production in both right- and left-hand drive from later this year.

Jazz-based Honda small crossover wagon high on wish list for Aussie launch


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15 Jan 2013

HONDA has confirmed its new baby SUV will be built in right-hand drive, opening the door for sales of the Subaru XV competitor in Australia within about 12 months.

Unveiled as the Urban SUV Concept at the Detroit motor show overnight, the sub-CR-V crossover will be launched first in Japan by the end of this year before being rolled out to other markets in 2014.

Honda has confirmed the little Jazz-based SUV will be built in Honda’s new Mexican small-car plant as well as Japan, where it will be made alongside the Jazz (known as the Fit in the latter market) and in right-hand drive.

The Mexican plant does not come on stream for North American supply until 2014, when it will start building Jazz, a related sedan in the vein of the Asian-built City and the new small SUV.

Honda Australia public relations manager Melissa Cross told GoAuto the small SUV was high on the company’s wish list for local launch, but timing and source factory were yet to be confirmed.

The Urban SUV is likely to turn up under another name when it finally goes on sale, with some journalists speculating the revival of the HR-V moniker.

Globally, the new vehicle will be offered with three types of powertrain – petrol, diesel and hybrid – from Honda’s new Earth Dreams range.

The diesel is a certainty for Europe, with the petrol and hybrid models likely for Australia, Japan and the United States.

The underpinnings of the new model are from Honda’s Global Compact Series platform, from which Honda hopes to sell more than 1.5 million units a year by 2016.

The SUV adopts the same centre tank layout as the Jazz/Fit, which is said to deliver a spacious cabin and greater functionality.

The crossover vehicle will get the same versatile ‘Magic Seats’ as the Jazz, along with next-generation telematics and a modern interior.

It is unclear if the SUV will get all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive like the bigger CR-V, or just front-drive.

Honda describes the SUV’s exterior design as coupe-like, enhanced by Alfa Romeo-style hidden rear doorhandles, a sloping roof and a strong character line from the C pillar to the front wheelarches.

“The exterior design was developed featuring the sharp and sporty character lines of a coupe while maintaining the dynamism of a crossover model to express an emotional and sensual design,” Honda says in its media release.

In its concept form, the new SUV is 4300mm long – 230mm shorter than the CR-V and 150mm shorter than the Subaru XV.

In Australia, the small SUV segment was the fastest growing segment in 2012, jumping 53.5 per cent in 12 months to 57,231 vehicles.

The top-selling small SUV was the Nissan Dualis, which found 13,141 new owners in Australia last year.

Honda is just one manufacturer set to target the burgeoning market over the next 12 months, with Holden entering the fray with its new Trax, and Peugeot’s 2008, Ford’s EcoSport and Renault’s Captur also on the launching pad.

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