Dubbed as the “SUV RS concept”, Honda finally unveiled its Toyota/Daihatsu Raize/Rocky compact SUV challenger at Indonesia GIIAS auto show.
The design of the SUV RS concept showcases a compact SUV with full character and premium looking SUV. The checkered mark intake grill motive and the thick LED DRL gives a very premium look to the car, while the flowing lines and the floating roof and bedazzled rear light cluster screams youthful design.
Honda called the car as a concept, and unlike the N7x concept before it which basically the production form of the second generation BR-V but with minor touch, the SUV RS concept do feels like a mismash of concept and production parts. The front bumper which houses the checkered mark grill seems like it’s printed on the plastic surface and the rear is devoid of rear wiper. There’s also the peculiar higher than regular floor to ground height of the rear hatch with very small opening for lever operation.
The car design is quite daring for Honda, and eschew many utilitarianism that old Honda products exhibit. For one, the rakish rear hatch limits the height of its cargo bay, making a very swoopy looking car at the expense of cargo bay usefulness.
There’s no word about when the car it will be based on will be announced, but strong indication that this will be the ZR-V that will slotted below the BR-V to fight Hyundai Creta, and Toyota/Daihatsu Raize/Rocky twin in South East Asia and even India. Honda should be aware of the compact SUV trend, or else they can just fire whoever is responsible on the product planning division. Honda has the WR-V, a ruggedized and SUV’d (if that’s a word) Honda Fit/Jazz being sold in India and south America since 2017, so the product planning division knows the market is there. If the SUV RS concept is going to be made available in late 2022 or even 2023, Honda will lose a significant amount of potential sales to Toyota/Daihatsu and Hyundai in Indonesia for the compact SUV category. Yet, maybe the delay means something more serious work needed to be done for the car?
The world is starting to enter transitional period to electrification in effort to curb greenhouse gas and the South East Asian region is following suit. Various tax exempts are being written to law for electric cars and other form of fuel sipping technology. Does Honda need time to rework the platform so eventually it can be fitted with hybrid or even electric motor? After all, strong indication that this car is based off the second generation BR-V, itself based from the (true) second generation of the (Brio) Amaze sedan. The Brio platform was never intended to house multiple drivetrain except for the 1.2L/1.5L (gas/diesel) engine because it’s simply built first and foremost as an economic solution to personal transportation in the targeted region. This is in stark contrast to Toyota/Daihatsu Next Generation Architecture that is built to fit traditional internal combustion engine and hybrid components. On T/DNGA, piping, tunneling, ducting and other structural components are built with hybridization in mind. Toyota/Daihatsu Raize/Rocky comes with internal combustion engine or hybrid system in Japan. When the regional government made clear about the tax exempts, Toyota/Daihatsu can just easily provide the hybrid version and stealing the spotlight from everybody.
So Honda, are you all in with the SUV RS concept? Take your time really, and better come out swinging.