Honda has set its sights on emulating the runaway success of the Nissan Qashqai – and our exclusive images reveal the car it will pin its hopes on. The company is keen to boost its profitability in Europe, particularly in the UK, where sales have halved over the last three years. And a new crossover to sit between the Civic and CR-V is seen as key to its chances of doing so.
The as-yet-unnamed car will be based on a tweaked version of the new Civic’s platform, and go on sale next year. Our illustrations show how it’s likely to look. It blends Civic styling cues, such as the flowing wheelarches and narrow headlights, with a front end from the company’s Skydeck MPV concept car, plus additional chunky details like the underbody guard. Inside, it will make use of the Civic’s flip-up rear seats.
Despite the high-riding stance, the crossover will have to be good to drive, and that’s where the Civic underpinnings will help. Fluid-filled bushes and a stiff rear subframe will keep the ride supple and the handling sharp.
As with the Qashqai, the big-selling engines would all be diesels, and Honda’s new 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine will be the main attraction. It produces 118bhp and 300Nm of torque, and should emit around 110g/km of CO2, with economy of 70mpg, thanks to stop-start and an efficient electric power-steering set-up. The more powerful 147bhp 2.2-litre i-DTEC engine will also be offered, alongside a 1.8-litre petrol engine with 138bhp.
A key Honda selling point is hybrid technology and the firm will be looking to introduce next-generation hybrid systems on the newcomer. That could mean an electric motor at the rear, giving the company a four-wheel-drive version. Plus, a plug-in hybrid system is being developed for some of Honda’s larger vehicles, and the Qashqai rival could be one of the first models to get it. A price tag of around £17,000 is likely when the newcomer arrives in showrooms in 2013.