Honda will finally join the thriving small SUV segment on 2 October when it launches the just-for-Europe HR-V soft roader at the Paris Motor Show.
The new Honda HR-V, which will go on sale in the UK in summer 2015, has one key rival in its sights: the Nissan Juke, which both defined and now leads this booming sector.
To take the fight to it, Honda is targeting one of the Juke’s biggest weaknesses: practicality. Honda engineers have located the fuel tank in the middle of the HR-V, which frees up lots of space in the rear for both passengers and luggage.
Indeed, Honda’s been able to fit its superb Magic Seats system, which collapses up entirely to allow bulky items such as bicycles to be stowed behind the front seats – or for rear passengers to place bulky baggage beneath the rear bench seat.
This multi-configurable seating combines with generous overall levels of space to create, says Honda, one of the most roomy and adaptable small SUV cabins. That’s despite a plunging coupe-like roofline, too.
The HR-V will use the next-generation Honda Jazz platform, so should drive ably, and some high-tech new engines will be offered – including a promising-sounding 1.5-litre direct injection unit. In the Japanese Vezel, this produces 130hp – and in Japan, it can also be had in combination with a hybrid drive system capable of over 76mpg.
Will the Honda HR-V become the UK’s first small SUV hybrid? Watch this space…
Honda HR-V heralds UK dealer delight
A sign of how important the new HR-V is to Honda’s long-suffering UK dealers is the fact every single one of them will be flown out to Paris to see the new car on show!
With some understatement, Honda Head of Car Leon Brannan confirmed the dealer network is “very much looking forward to receiving the car in their showrooms”. After years of lacklustre products leading to slow sales declines in Britain, the sense of relief from them is almost palpable.
“The HR-V is a very welcome addition to our current model line up,” he said. “It is a very popular and growing market segment that appeals to both retail and corporate customers.“
Motoring Research will be out in force at the Paris Motor Show 2014 and will bring you full details of both the new Honda HR-V and all the other new cars and stars of the show.