The Honda Vezel has been unveiled at the Tokyo motor show signalling the Japanese brand's entry into the competitive sub-compact SUV segment.
Arriving in Australia towards the end of next year, the Jazz-based Honda Vezel will be available in petrol and diesel variants, with Honda Australia yet to decide if it will bring a hybrid variant to our market.
The Honda Vezel petrol comes with a similar 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine to that found in the new third-generation Jazz (launching in July), which puts out approximately 87kW of power and 144Nm of torque.
The hybrid model uses a 100kW/170Nm 1.5-litre Sport Hybrid Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive (i-DCD), also borrowed from the new Honda Jazz Hybrid launching next year.
Although smaller, the Vezel sees Honda return to the segment it abandoned after the HR-V left Australia in 2001 – just three years after it launched.
Speaking at the Tokyo show, Honda Australia boss Noriyuki Takakura told CarAdvice of the company’s intentions to bring a petrol and diesel variant of the Vezel to market.
“We are thinking petrol and diesel [models of the Vezel]. Not sure about hybrid because the market is [only] gradually expanding, better to introduce diesel [instead]." Takakura said.
It’s likely the Vezel petrol will arrive before the diesel lands in 2015. Takakura hinted that the diesel powerplant, which is likely to be a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, will be available with an automatic transmission, in-line with the CR-V diesel launching locally in January.
Honda Australia director, Stephen Collins, confirmed the local operation’s keen interest in the Vezel, given the high growth in the sub-compact SUV market (up 19.3 per cent so far this year compared to same time in 2012) with the recent launch of numerous competitor models.
It still remains unconfirmed if Australia will keep the Vezel badge, with Takakura saying “maybe”. It’s not the first time Honda Australia has taken the European name of a vehicle, given the Jazz’s ‘Fit’ name in Japan and North America.