Speaking with CarExpert during an executive roundtable, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the new SUV – as yet unnamed – will offer five seats and more practicality than the new-generation HR-V.
We also understand that it will sit beneath the CR-V, which is due to enter a new-generation soon, as previewed with leaked patent images early this year.
“For those customers wanting five seats and/or more practicality, we’re very confident we’ll be able to cater for those needs [with the new SUV model],” Mr Collins said.
“What we’ll see over the next 12 to 18 months or so, is a line-up of three distinct SUVs.”
Mr Collins reiterated Honda Australia’s commitment to offering a hybrid option with every new model launch, indicating this new SUV will offer petrol-electric power when it arrives to market.
What exactly this new crossover will be called or look like is unclear, given the Japanese line-up doesn’t include a crossover sized between the domestic-market Vezel (HR-V) and CR-V.
One very strong possibility, however, is the Civic-based HR-V destined for the North American market, which is larger than the HR-V sold here and in markets like Japan, Europe and Australia.
When the crossover was revealed the company confirmed it would be introduced to the European market in 2023 with a different nameplate, and offer a hybrid powertrain.
Given the strong relation to the 11th-generation Civic, it’s likely the global version of the US-spec HR-V will be powered by the same 134kW/240Nm 1.5-litre turbo and 135kW/315Nm 2.0-litre e:HEV hybrid powertrains as its passenger car sibling.
The new-generation 2022 Honda HR-V, meanwhile, has started arriving in Australian showrooms this past month, and offers a pared back line-up including a base petrol Vi X and a flagship e:HEV L hybrid.
Given Honda Australia’s new centralised ‘agency’ retail strategy, the new HR-V has fixed national drive-way pricing starting at $36,700 drive-away for the Vi X and climbing to $45,000 drive-away for the e:HEV L.
One thing of note other than the higher pricing compared to the previous model is the four-seat interior, a result of strict ADR guidelines that require any rear seat with a seatbelt to also feature a top-tether point for a child seat. The HR-V features them on the outboard seats, but the fifth seat in overseas models (e.g. Japan and the UK) doesn’t.
As such, buyers wanting a compact Honda SUV with a three-seat rear bench will be catered for with the new model due in the next year or so.
Honda’s American arm is remaining tight-lipped on HR-V details in the lead-up to its launch there during the northern hemisphere’s summer, but from the exterior images that have been released so far it appears the new crossover will be on the larger side of the small class or even be mid-sized.
Given its relation to the fairly spacious new Civic, expect the new model to compete with everything from the Kia Seltos and upcoming Toyota Corolla Cross to the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4.
The option of hybrid power would give it a point of difference amongst current rivals to, with only a handful of players across the mainstream Small SUV and Medium SUV segments offering a hybrid or plug-in hybrid option.
Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything Honda HR-V