Honda 2020

culture

Honda's first-ever SUV was a V8-powered Brit

It’s not as far-fetched as it might seem, but Japanese giant Honda and British manufacturer Rover enjoyed a tie-up dating back to the 1970s.

It all got underway with Honda sending the Ballade (a four-door Civic) to British Leyland in the 1970s, where it was rebadged and marketed as a Triumph Acclaim. The Rover 200 (also a rebadged Honda Ballade) soon followed before a succession of one-way traffic from Japan to Coventry gave the world the Rover Sterling (Honda Legend), the Rover 400 (Honda Concerto) and the Rover 600 (Honda Accord).

In return, Honda got, not very much at all.

That all changed in 1993 when Honda, noticing the rising tide of popularity of SUVs, yet unwilling to invest time and money into creating its own, called in the markers it held over Rover.

The result? The Honda Crossroad, a rebadged Land Rover Discovery. Available with just a single engine choice in Japan, the Crossroad was powered by Rover’s 3.9-litre petrol V8 good for around 134kW. That placed the Crossroad firmly into the four-wheel drive battleground dominated by Toyota’s LandCruiser and the Nissan Patrol. It didn’t fare well.

Changing the badge on the grille to Honda, a manufacturer which prided itself on its quality control, didn’t do much to improve the famed Land Rover reliability issues however, the Crossroad cut from the same cloth as its English sibling. One major recall in 1997 affected 4754 Crossroads, a malfunctioning locking mechanism resulting in the driver’s door flinging open while driving.

By 1998, the relationship between Honda and Rover was over, having endured a four-year stay of execution resulting from BMW’s takeover of the beleaguered British manufacturer in 1994. Like any jilted lover, Honda wanted to walk away then and there but was convinced to stay by BMW management, the relationship slowly reaching its inexorable end in 1998, the Crossroad’s demise hastened by the introduction of Honda’s first-ever in-house SUV, the CR-V in 1996.

Interestingly, the Honda Crossroad does hold a special place in the annals of Honda history, to this day the only V8-engined production car ever to wear the Honda ‘H’ on the grille.

MORE: Everything Honda
MORE: Everything Land Rover

MORE: Everything Car Culture

- shares