Honda NZ readies for SUV

By Liz Dobson

Vezel set to go on sale here late next year, writes Liz Dobson

Honda's new compact SUV the Vezel
Honda's new compact SUV the Vezel

Honda New Zealand is set to join the compact SUV market with the launch this week of the Vezel at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Set to go on sale next month in Japan, the Vezel is expected to be launched in New Zealand late 2014.

Based on the all-new Jazz platform, the Vezel is being produced with two powertrains - the 1.5-litre hybrid and 1.5-litre petrol - plus both AWD and 2WD and will sit below the CR-V in Honda's line-up.

But it will make a huge impact on the New Zealand market, taking on the established Holden Trax, Peugeot 2008, Nissan Juke, and Ford's 2014 EcoSport.

Honda New Zealand's general manager, Murray Selby, confirmed at the Tokyo motor show that we would take the compact SUV but he was still working out when it would go on sale in the Southern Hemisphere.

"We wanted the Vezel as soon as possible but we don't' know when at this time," said Selby.

He also didn't know if the name Vezel would be used worldwide or just in Japan.

Although it is based on the Jazz small hatchback's platform, the Vezel is a substantial vehicle that has a large presence and mature design palette. While the Vezel was the surprise product at the motor show, the two concept stars were the NSX sports coupe and the S660 two-door convertible.

The two sports cars are set to go on sale in North America in 2015 while Honda also has plans for a mid-sized sports car to go into production within the next few years.

After being affected by the Japan earthquake and tsunami and then the floods at its Thailand plant, Honda Motors is looking at overcoming those production disasters to revitalise the brand.

VTEC turbo fit to compete

While officially Honda Motors says it still doesn't have firm plans for its three new
VTEC turbo engines, a top engineer says one of the new powertrains will be used in the Fit hatchback built for China.

At the media launch of its products at Honda's Research and Development Centre at Utsunomiya just days before the Tokyo Motor Show, the three powertrains _ the 1-, 1.5- and 2-litre turbo petrol engines - were on display in a variety of products.

A Honda engineer told Driven that the stunningly effective 1-litre, 3 cylinder engine
will be used in the Fit, known as the Jazz in New Zealand, set to go on sale in the burgeoning China market soon.

With figures of 4.2L/100km, the small VTEC turbo engine is set to take on Ford's EcoBoost and Mazda's SkyActiv when it comes to fuel efficiency and performance.

The engineer wants to see the 1-litre in global Jazz/Fit models as soon as possible.

But the performance star of the R&D day was the 2-litre VTEC turbo paired with the eight-speed auto transmission and plonked into Honda's Type-R sports coupe.

It roared to fifth gear within nanoseconds, sat comfortably in sixth and reached a speed
of 202km/h on the R&D track before eighth gear was engaged.

Again the Japanese company was being conservative with its product, saying the Type-R wasn't ready for production for the North American market for a further three years. However, after taking it around the track, the Type-R felt ready to hit the global roads this week.

- NZ Herald

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