Honda has launched a new H-RV, but where’s the joy?
Honda will shortly launch its new compact crossover contender to rival the likes of the Nissan Juke and its all-conquering Renault Captur sibling. It is, as one can reasonably expect, spectacularly unadventurous in appearance and technical specification. In fact, there is a very good chance that the HR-V (as Honda has named it) will prove to be a virtually invisible piece of street furniture when it lands in a town near you later this year.
This will be the second iteration of the HR-V nomenclature. You may recall the 1999 edition – bizarrely marketed as the (ahem), ‘Joy Machine’. At the time, the car was for the most part ignored by the mainstream UK motoring press, who failed to see it for the conceptual pathfinder it was. Despite some entrenched attitudes, and possibly due to its – (for the time at least) – arresting looks, the HR-V proved a modest sales success, remaining in production until 2006. Honda themselves, it would have to be said, have been somewhat remiss in taking almost ten years to directly replace the model, given the explosion in popularity of small crossover vehicles in the intervening period. But then, as we know, Honda have been busy elsewhere.
Honda’s new HR-V – known as the Vezel in its home market, is in fact manufactured in Mexico and based upon Honda’s US-market Fit model. Compared to its predecessor – which retains some visual flair some sixteen years after its début – the new model’s dreary conservatism says multitudes about Honda’s latter-day torpidity.
With collapsing sales volumes across Europe, it’s troubling to see Honda play it so tentatively. Honda’s strategy appears to suggest that customers have merely been awaiting the HR-V and larger CR-V and now that they have arrived, all will be well. This sounds naive at best and while having something to pitch into the CUV sandpit has to be a positive move, it’s difficult to see a rapid turnaround occurring with such tepid offerings.