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Honda To Join The Crossover Bandwagon

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The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Honda Vezel

Honda To Join The Crossover Bandwagon

Geoff Maxted
December 20, 2013

Honda Vezel
I don’t know about you but are the car manufacturers getting a bit carried away with this crossover business? The latest company to get on the bandwagon is Honda who will join in Europe's booming small SUV/crossover segment by launching a European version of its new Vezel, which is based on the ubiquitous Jazz.

They have already started selling the Vezel in Japan and the car maker said the crossover will go on sale in Europe in 2015. American sales begin in the second half of 2014.

The Vezel is offered in Japan with a hybrid variant that combines a 1.5L direct-injection ‘Earth Dreams’ (who thinks this stuff up?) engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission mated to a 22kW electric motor. The standard petrol version teams the 1.5L engine with a continuously variable transmission. Honda has not said if the hybrid will be offered in Europe or the United States.

The company said specifications, engine options and naming of the model are still to be confirmed for the European market. A westernised name change seems like a good idea because right now it sounds like something you might buy quietly online from Ann Summers. Or so I’m told.

Nevertheless the Vezel's chief engineer said the company ideally wants to keep the name standardised because it is a global strategic vehicle, but Honda officials say it may be tweaked to suit local markets. Sensible. The Japan name comes from the word “bezel,” the mounting for gemstones. But it gets a befuddling Japanese twist in swapping the “b” for a “v,” two sounds often indistinguishable to the Japanese ear.

The crossover is key to Honda President Takanobu Ito’s push to boost global sales to 6 million vehicles in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, from 4.01 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013. By 2016, the Jazz hatchback and its Vezel crossover and City saloon variants will account for worldwide sales of 1.6 million units, Ito says. The Vezel's European version will compete against cars such as the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur. The trouble is, although most of these cars are attractively designed there is a sense of uniformity about them, give or take. When is someone going to offer something truly radical?

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