Preview: Honda CR-V Compact
HONDA is to build on the huge success of the British-built CR-V by bringing out a more compact vehicle of its type.
The baby SUV will give the manufacturer a model to compete against the likes of the Nissan Juke and the Toyota Urban Cruiser. Production of the model will begin later this year but it will not be coming to this country until 2014.
There are high hopes for the little car because the CR-V has been such a popular model with the latest version, on sale from the end of last year, winning critical acclaim as well as growing sales.
The model scooped the prestigious 4x4 of the Year honour from respected publication Total 4x4 Magazine just two months after going on sale.
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The competition was fierce and the magazine's test team pitted the Honda against several key rivals in the Medium SUV segment.
Sweeping them aside, it took class honours, making it a contender for the overall "best of the best" title, which it duly won. It's an outstanding achievement for such a new vehicle, which is manufactured in the UK at Honda's state-of-the-art production facility in Swindon.
Total 4x4 Magazine's testing process is comprehensive, ranging from interior quality, comfort and practicality to repeated drives of a set road route by different judges.
The publication's editor, Alan Kidd, said: "Never before have there been so many likely candidates for the overall title.
"However, from the moment we started crawling around inside the CR-V, it was clear Honda had hit the jackpot.
"The quality of its interior is on a par with the best, and its flexibility is exceptional – and that was before we actually drove it."
He added: "Seldom has a new 4x4 put such a big tick in so many boxes. It takes an awful lot to impress us these days. The new CR-V didn't just impress us – it made our jaws drop."
Honda UK managing director Dave Hodgetts was, understandably, thrilled with the honour. "For the new CR-V to take its first award so soon after launch is a real treat for everyone. We hope it will be the first of many."
The new CR-V is priced from £21,395 for the entry level 2.0 i-VTEC S grade 2WD model and is available in Derby through Lookers Honda dealership in Sir Frank Whittle Road.
The new compact model, previewed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month, is nine inches shorter than the CR-V and has a coupé-like appearance thanks to hidden rear door handles.
Tetsuo Iwamura, president and chief operating officer of Honda's North American operations, has no doubt that the vehicle has good market potential.
He expects it will draw new buyers to the brand rather than poach sales from Honda's existing vehicle, describing the concept for the new SUV as "completely different" to the firm's existing offerings.
It is to be manufactured at Honda's North American plant near Celaya, Mexico.