With the next-generation Honda Civic set to miss out on diesel power, buyers in the small car segment will miss out. But small SUV shoppers could soon have the option of a diesel-powered Honda HR-V.
A new Earth Dreams 1.6-litre turbo diesel model with 88kW and 300Nm is the engine we’re talking about, and it may come with the choice of six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmissions.
Honda Australia director Stephen Collins made it clear at a meeting with members of the automotive press this week that there is a call for a diesel HR-V from customers – but he didn’t specify just how many people actually want it.
“We said at the launch that we planned to have diesel available for HR-V,” Collins said. “We’re still working on diesel, and I actually don’t have a timeframe that I can give you as to when that will be.
“We still are interested in HR-V diesel, but having said that I’ve got to say we’re pretty pleased with HR-V is at. We get a bit of enquiry on diesel, but it’s pretty minimal,” he said.
There’s good reason Collins is happy with the sales of the HR-V, which has just one drivetrain available - a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol with a CVT automatic.
Despite that single drivetrain, the HR-V sold 10,899 units in 2015, making it the fourth-biggest seller in the small SUV segment. In 2016, it is sitting in the same position behind the likes of the Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai and the Mazda CX-3 – all of which have diesel models in their ranges.
However, the HR-V can’t tread on the toes of its bigger brother, the CR-V, in terms of price – Collins made that quite clear.
“So, the short answer is that we’re certainly interested in it. It needs to make economic sense, we need to be able to price it properly, like we have with the petrol variants. So that will play out over the next couple of months,” he said.
When asked if there’s a chance the brand won’t bring a diesel HR-V, he admitted “there’s a chance”.
“Really the only showstopper would be if we can’t price it well enough,” he said.
The ASX and CX-3 also offer all-wheel-drive, but Collins confirmed that the brand isn’t planning to add that drive type to the HR-V locally.
“No plan at this stage for all-wheel drive. It’s available, but we don’t see a real need for it,” he said. We certainly have considered it. We haven’t just discounted it and said ‘forget it’.
“I think it just comes down to where the core market is, and the core market is two-wheel drive.
“I’d never say never to it, but I think we’re just concentrating on where the core markets are.
“What’s important for dealers these days … is model efficiency. If you’re doing huge volumes you can afford to have 15 different grades and four different engines and 10 different colours. But it’s a balance between providing good options, good choice for customers, and also business efficiency is important too,” he said.