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New York show: Return of the Honda HR-V

Jacked-up Jazz: The US-market Honda HR-V will come to Australia in a similar form by 2015.

HR-V name returns to Honda showrooms on Jazz-based crossover due in early 2015

Honda logo22 Apr 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

HONDA Australia has, as expected, dusted off its defunct HR-V badge and bestowed it on the curvaceous model that will return the company to the small SUV market after a 14-year absence.

The new urban crossover, which was previewed in production-ready form at the Tokyo motor show last November as the Vezel, made its US-market premiere this week at the New York motor show.

It will touch down in Australia at the start of 2015, around the same time as it arrives in Europe.

The revived HR-V will play an important role in turning around Honda’s flagging sales here — down 35.7 per cent this year — alongside the new Jazz (due later this year).

As we reported earlier this year, Honda Australia expects the new city-sized SUV to become a core model in its volume range alongside the Jazz, Civic and its CR-V big brother.

With new models such as the Ford EcoSport, Holden Trax, Peugeot 2008, Nissan Juke and the forthcoming Renault Captur all driving a new sub-compact crossover market to growth, the opportunities are obvious.

Honda is keeping its cards close to its chest on full specifications on the car, though we do know it will share its low-floored architecture with the new Jazz, and offer all that car’s class-leading practicality and cargo space.

Expect a 1.5-litre direct-injection petrol engine to comprise the bulk of sales, though a petrol-electric hybrid option, with a lithium-ion battery and a DCT dual-clutch transmission — will also be offered. Both these powertrains are lifted from the Jazz.

Honda sold the original HR-V in Australia between 1999 and 2001, though only 5000 found homes.

In many ways, the car-based tallboy hatch with a 1.6-litre engine was ahead of its time, with the trend for this sort of city-centric mini SUV not taking off in earnest for several years after the Honda’s demise.

“The launch of the HR-V will boost the range of vehicles Honda offers in Australia and attract buyers in the small SUV market to the Honda brand,” said Honda Australia director Stephen Collins.

“It is fitting that the new small SUV will take the HR-V moniker as Honda enters the country’s fastest-growing segment with a red-hot competitor.

“The HR-V is built on the new Jazz platform and will offer sporty, versatile characteristics. It will provide customers with a wider choice in the SUV market, complementing Honda’s medium SUV offering the popular CR-V.”

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