I’ve owned just one urban-SUV, the first generation Land Rover Freelander, and while we enjoyed the experience, it wasn’t nearly useful enough to justify some of its more obvious limitations. However the market for urban-SUVs is booming, most notably for Nissan who produced more than 480,000 Qashqai, Qashqai +2, Juke in 2011.
Honda would like some of that action and will debut its own compact urban-SUV Concept at next month’s NAIAS Detroit Motor Show, utilising Honda’s centre-tank layout, thought to be based on a future Jazz platform.
The sketch above shows a stylish crossover design, with a sporty dynamic profile, which Honda says is spacious and ‘highly functional’. The model is to be sold globally and therefore needs to balance the need to be distinctive, while at the same time culturally neutral.
It’s a promising start for the company which aims to double its sales by 2017 from 3.11 million to more than 6 million vehicles. It’s rivals have stormed ahead of the company which ‘used to’ make the highest selling car in the world – the Civic. By comparison, Toyota projects global sales of around 10 million vehicles by 2015, while Nissan forecasts to reach at least 7.2 million vehicles by 2017.
The new model onslaught comes on the back of a disastrous couple of years for Honda, after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and last year’s floods in Thailand, which crippled its production capacity and severely dented world-wide sales.
It won’t be plain sailing though, with pressure on its margins from a strong yen and the continuing anti-Japanese sentiment in China, the company will have to rely on more emotive designs to capture the imagination of car buyers.