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by Tim Beissmann

Honda Australia says the upcoming Jazz-based baby SUV and the next-generation Civic Type-R are at the top of its wish list to expand its local line-up by the middle of the decade.

Honda Australia managing director and CEO Satoshi Matsuzawa told CarAdvice the all-new compact crossover, to be built on the platform of the next-generation Honda Jazz city car, would be a pivotal model for the local devision.

“The SUV [segment] is amazingly still growing in this market, especially in the small segment, hugely increasing – so we would have to reply to the customers’ demands, as it’s always fundamentally the purpose of the business to provide joy to the customers,” Matsuzawa said.

The all-new third-generation Honda Jazz will debut internationally during 2013 but will not reach our shores until the following year. The light-sized hatchback will be followed in either 2014 or 2015 by the small SUV to rival the likes of the Ford EcoSport, Holden Trax and the Mitsubishi ASX, as well as a new Jazz-based Honda City sedan.

With the all-new fourth-generation Honda CR-V launching in Australia this month with a new low starting price of $27,490, Matsuzawa admitted there was “a lot of potential” for Honda Australia to position the smaller Jazz SUV at highly competitive price – likely starting below $25,000.

Matsuzawa said the hotly anticipated Honda Civic Type-R should also return to our market around the middle of the decade, following confirmation of the hot-hatch’s return by Honda’s global CEO, Takanobu Ito, in September.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said although the Civic Type-R was still not officially locked in for our market, it was “definitely right up there” on the brand’s wish list.

“The timing’s still up in the air, but we’ve obviously got a really good heritage with Type-R,” Collins said.

“Honda’s DNA is all about sporty cars and Type-R will deliver in spades.”

Honda aims to launch the Civic Type-R by 2015, and has set its engineers the task of making the new model the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the Nurburgring – a record currently held by the 195kW/360Nm Renault Megane RS265.

The upcoming Honda Civic wagon is not on the agenda for our market, however, with Collins explaining Honda did not anticipate high demand for the more versatile variant and planned to focus on its core hatch and sedan models in Australia.

Matsuzawa confirmed the next-generation Honda Legend would also come to Australia, replacing the fourth-generation flagship sedan that has been on sale in our market since 2006.

Set to launch in Japan in 2014 with an innovative new three-motor hybrid all-wheel-drive system, the large luxury car is unlikely to reach our shores until 2015 at the earliest.




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