Honda Australia has high hopes that the Vezel small SUV will fast become a core part of its local line-up when it arrives here in January 2015.
Honda Australia Director Stephen Collins told TMR at the local launch of the CR-V diesel that the Vezel - which will wear a different name for the Australian market - will likely be a strong seller.
“I would expect it would become a core model for us, I don't expect it would be a niche or a fringe model," Collins said.
“We haven’t set volumes at this point but we expect that the small SUV market is going to keep growing and we think in the next few years it will get as big as the medium SUV segment.”'
Last year Honda Australia sold just under 40,000 cars and expects to see similar volumes in 2014. The arrival of the all-new Jazz later in the year will give showroom traffic a boost, but Collins says it will be too late in the year to have a significant effect.
Instead, 2015 is expected to be a big growth year for Honda Australia, as sales of the new Jazz gather steam and the Vezel arrives in showrooms.
Given the booming demand for SUVs and the growing number of offerings in the small SUV segment, predictions are that sales of the Vezel will be healthy enough to make it one of Honda's most popular vehicles in Australia, though Collins says it's not expected to overtake established core products like the CR-V and Civic.
"I think with that market growing to maybe medium-SUV type levels and offering both petrol and diesel, I think it will be a core car," he said.
"It would be a big call to say it would outsell Civic but you never know.”
Like the Civic, the Vezel would be offered in both petrol and diesel guise, though exact powertrain options have yet to be confirmed.
In Japan, the Vezel will be sold with the same 87kW/144 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated petrol inline four and 100kW/170Nm petrol-electric hybrid powertrain used by the Fit (Jazz), with which it shares a platform. A diesel engine has yet to be officially announced for the Vezel.
Both FWD and AWD drivetrains are available overseas, but it's unclear at this stage whether Honda will adopt both, or just one of those configurations.
The Vezel is scheduled to arrive in Australia around this time next year, at which point it will have no shortage of competitors in the small SUV segment - cars like the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Ford Ecosport and Holden Trax.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect the range to span the $20,000-30,000 bracket.