Honda new sub compact SUV makes world debut

SUV RS concept

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.

Source:

World Premiere at GIIAS 2021, Honda SUV :: Honda Indonesia (honda-indonesia.com)

Honda Indonesia debuts compact SUV at GIIAS 2021

Honda is debuting a new compact entry level SUV on Indonesia flagship autoshow on 11th November 2021. This might be the ZR-V although my sources told me with high confidence this is the N5-X or the two row version of the BR-V.

The SUV craze has officially come to Indonesia as such, Honda best selling model, Brio, is entering its bearish period, selling a handful as potential buyers are swooned by Daihatsu/Toyota Raize/Rocky combo. Starting at Rp. 180 million/ US$12 thousand, the compact SUV twins cuts straight in the middle of Honda Brio model pricing (Brio starts at Rp. 150 million / US$ 10,5 thousand), while offering more premium amenities and larger interior space. Obviously Honda entry level hatchback has efficiency to brag, but at a time where people wants to be seen driving a larger car, the premise for the Brio is losing its appeal.

A lot of buzz surrounding the car because this will be Honda latest masterpiece after shaking up Honda Indonesia management and Honda R&D in the region. It would be logical to assume that this SUV will be a short version of second generation BR-V, Honda after all have to rely on economy of scope to survive in the market. So part sharing should be in the order just like Brio – Mobilio – BR-V before it. However from the looks of the teaser, this car brings about significant changes on the rear portion. It will have similar rear lighting cluster like the new HR-V and connected D pillar to create floating roof effect. The lighted up part on the lower part of the door seems like a body cladding to add some visual toughness.

If true, then Honda has done its homework well, trying to distinguish their platform share to good effect. No more longer version of a cheap car that plagued the Brio – Mobilio joke here.

Fifth Generation Acura Integra Will Have Manual Transmission

Another out of nowhere news! After revealing the electric future of the brand, Honda biggest reveal so far in 2021 is not only that the Integra nameplate coming back in the United States, it will also be offered in Manual transmission.

This news is such a huge revelation because the US automotive market leans heavily on automatic transmission. According to carmax.com, a car retailer giant in the United States, they only sells 2.4% of cars with manual transmission in 2020, down from around 3% in 2019.

The Acura Integra will be a heavily redesigned 11th generation Civic, starkly different than the guised up Civic of the Chinese domestic market Integra model that’s just recently announced this year as well.

The Chinese domestic market Integra is simply a slightly redesigned 11th generation Civic with revised front end and slight change on the rear end. The Acura Integra however will be a clean design with zero similarity with the Civic. First of all, the Acura Integra will be a lift back and it will adopt Acura diamond pentagon grille design with aggressive headlight.

Integra official teaser image
Integra official teaser image

Some have pointed out that the Acura Integra will be an upmarket Civic Type R, with it, the expectation that the car will be automatic only. Apparently from Acura official reveal of the manual option video, the Integra will bring back the glorious family feud of the 1990’s where it will go head to head with the Civic.

Astute viewer will notice that the engine note from the video is similar to the current Civic Type R, lower redline than the old K24, K20 and B18. Apparently it will be using the same turbocharged engine as the Civic Type R. There are rumors that the Integra will have some sort of hybridization, with electric motor driving the rear wheels, well, apparently it is just that, a rumor. The Integra sounds like a legit driver’s car from the teaser video, perhaps the Integra Type-S will have more surprise coming down the line… But until then, Honda is bringing back the 1990s nostalgia hard!

Honda e:N previews the future of Honda electric cars

In a strike out of nowhere (or maybe I’ve been out of the loop), Honda just released Honda e:N electric cars video showcase on youtube, headlined by e:N P1 and e:n S1.

e:N SUV, GT, Coupe concepts

Honda showcases the principle and story behind the new brand. e:N stands for electric/energize and next/new, headlining Honda future cars. The name is simple as is, well, it’s just two words, e and n, it likens to VW ID or Mercedes EQ electric car lineup, so Honda e:N doesn’t fall far from the weirdness of the future.

Honda e:N P1

Honda China headlined the e:N series with the e:N P1 and e:N S1, obviously taking second generation Honda HR-V platform, replacing the whole fuel tank with battery pack and replacing the engine with electric motor. It is still under prototype form running testing, there’s no immediate release date, but safe to say it will be available in China around 2022.

The showcase of all is the announcement of three e:N concepts, the SUV, the GT and and the coupe concept all in glorious animation. All three will have a mix of e:N platform showing the scalability of the system. Honda called it the e:N architecture, with three variations, the e:N architecture F and e:N architecture W. The architecture F will be a front wheel drive system while the architecture W will have two variation, the two motors all wheel drive and the one motor rear wheel drive. The architecture F is probably the most common solution for Honda e:N products, while the architecture W AWD version for huge sedans and SUV. The architecture W RWD on the other hand is interesting. Honda could make a sports car with the architecture W RWD akin to Porsche as basically the system is a facsimile of a rear engine rear wheel drive car. Perhaps architecture W RWD will be powering the e:N coupe concept.

the e:N concepts all features angular lines that is very retro futuristic looking. It might have some design cues from Tesla truck, but it is distinctively unique. Honda China claims the design comes from the Chinese team, and I have to take my hats off to them, it is a simple, and guaranteed future classics. The clean lines differs from the organic lines from competing electric car brands such as Mercedes, Tesla, Lucid and VW. If the e:N concepts translates all the lines to production, it will be a stand out among its peers. To further emphasize the distinctness of the design, the headlights resembles a stylized H on all of the concepts.

Honda didn’t divulge further info as of this writing (it’s only 2 hours after the e:N Honda youtube video went live when I write this), but I’m very liking what I see so far. Honda is quite late to the electric car game, here’s hoping Honda will bring another option in the electric car market.

For more videos and details in Chinese, go to the link below.

Honda China Honda EN landing page

Honda EN Youtube video showcase

Well, it’s a BR-V after all

So that was… Strange… After all the smoke has cleared, the N7X becomes… BR-V. Why not just say it from the get got? Why the parade across the country, teasing the car to potential buyers? It feels there are few unnecessary steps in introducing the second generation BR-V.

Or is it?

Obviously the confusion about the BR-V got a code name for its second generation reveal is weird, but in hindsight I understand the idea. The first generation BR-V was never received favorably everywhere it’s introduced. The link between the BR-V and Mobilio even though only skin deep, a lot of people think that both are the same car. Both cars are structurally different, they have separate problems. For example, the BR-V is notorious for eating CV joint, while the Mobilio is not.

The problem lies in Honda experimenting in economies of scope on creating their car. the Mobilio and BR-V has different face and rear, but they both shares the same front glass, the same door and window panes, the same dashboard and the same seat structure. Even though the body is similar the BR-V has higher ceiling thus larger interior space, overall, the car looks the same. Is it wrong for Honda to do that? Obviously not, Honda needs to make money, as the alternative is market domination by Toyota group and thus monopoly when they have achieved it, and that is very bad.

The only logical thing that Honda Indonesia is doing all the charade for BR-V second generation is simply to relaunch the marque. Thinking back, registering a new name for an automotive product is difficult, and launching a campaign to familiarize the market for a new product is also difficult. The tease and code name is basically Honda Indonesia way of reintroducing BR-V to the market. In Europe and North America, renewing a marriage vow is common, it’s totally unnecessary, but it shows a commitment from both party. Some marriage vow renewal ceremony is even more festive than the original wedding party, and looks like Honda Indonesia is doing the same thing for BR-V. To let the market that Honda is serious and this time they will not repeat the same mistake.

Do remember though, Honda is not veering from the economy of scope, no no no no no no. They are still doing it, but it seems they are doing it right this time around. The N5X is coming, obviously a 2 row BR-V, which most likely be 2nd gen BR-V with its rear portion cut and different fascia (most likely cheaper headlight, different bumper) but retain everything from the overall shape, doors, and interior. Positioned exactly to fight Raize – Rocky duo.

Like in my previous post, Honda is doing it right this time around. The economy of scope experiment started with Brio, followed by Mobilio and finally BR-V. The similarity and timeline from those three cars created a correlation that all three cars are related, and although not wrong, it created story that BR-V comes from the Brio, a cheap car. This time, the N7X is the headliner, the causa prima, and every subsequent product is born from the line, a premium car.

I always teach my students about the importance of semantics and its relation to process. In our language, there’s two terms for ice tea, “teh es” (tea ice) and “es teh” (ice tea), we ask the drink with both term and it will be fine… But process wise saying the other will net different results. “teh es” is when you put tea first inside the glass and then you put the ice, making the tea thicker and less cold, especially if the tea is hot. “es teh” is when you fill the glass with ice then you put the tea, making a very cold drink but thinner tea. The same thing happened with second generation BR-V… Semantics.

Why It’s Called N7X and not Honda BR-V?

For a car that’s going to be launched in just 4 months in Indonesia, the N7X is quite an oddity. First, it carries the concept nomenclature, which according to Honda own history means something that is under design study, however the N7X looks production ready. Also, the name most likely a codename for something, as it breaks Honda own naming scheme in the region.

Obviously the media is pointing that this is the second generation BR-V, yet why not just call the N7X a preview for the second generation BR-V?

Well ladies and gents, because the BR-V, is a major and utter comercial failure…

Even without the SUV boom, the market in Indonesia is already into SUV. Like India, we share similar seasonal wet and dry season, and similar infrastructure shenanigans (bad roads, potholes, the many dirt path). So tall cars are always in demand, the Toyota/Daihatsu offerings always cater to these facts. The Avanza/Xenia and Rush/Terios is built to venture all types of road conditions, flood no flood.

The BR-V was Honda answer to the Toyota/Daihatsu Rush/Terios, offering superior efficiency, comfort and driveability. Yet, BR-V best selling year was when it was introduced in 2016, at 38.000+ units, and in 2019, Honda only sells 4.000+ units compared to Toyota/Daihatsu Rush/Terios combined at 80.000+ units.

So why, in a market that demands 7 seater tall SUV, that the BR-V spectacularly fails? The CR-V and HR-V fares much better, and becomes the segment leaders, trading blows with Toyota’s best effort.

Well, the BR-V simply fell victim to the rule of association, being associated with the cheaper barebone Brio.

The thing is, the Brio project put too much effort in cost saving and economy of scale, Honda forgot that the market considers car purchase as an emotional act rather than logical. First gen and “2nd gen” Brio, Mobilio, and BR-V shares the exact same dashboard, door trim, and some seats making the association that all three cars are based on the original model, the entry level family car, the Brio.

First impression matters, in marketing term, it’s what defines the expectation of the brand/product going forward. The original Brio is not a car to be based on if you want to create a good impression. The original Brio lacks everything to be called a decent car. Lack of sound proofing, lack of boot space, lack of second row seating space, you name it… How do I know this, I drive one daily.

So when people was asked about Mobilio and the BR-V, by proxy what they recall is not the individual car, but the whole family because even the exterior (hood, headlights, front doors, the A pillar, window kink) is similar. When I asked my friends about the Mobilio, the definitive answer is that they will say it’s a longer Brio. When I asked about the BR-V, the consensus will say it’s a longer taller Brio. One even commented, it’s in the name, BRio-V.

So when people looked at the BR-V, what they see is not a premium 7 seater SUV, but rather an elongated and jacked up cheap car… And they are correct. The BR-V isn’t just a colossal sales failure in Indonesia, it’s everywhere where it’s sold. The initial sellout drops like a rock in the next year.

The Brio platform is now in its second generation, which underpins the second generation Honda Amaze back in 2018. Not to be confused with the revised Honda Brio hatch that got majorly revised adding rear hatch door but still retains the old chassis code, DD1/2, while the Amaze had it’s chassis code updated to DF5/6 from DF1/2.

Launching the N7X first in the ASEAN region is a smart move, and expectedly, Honda will put premium on the car. Why, because the rule of association. With Honda putting the N7X on the market first, the subsequent cars based on the platform will now be referenced as the variant of N7X, a premium car, not a variant of a cheap entry level car.

Still though what name the N7X will carry, will it still be BR-V? And risking the tarnished image of the car’s legacy, or will it be something new but still in the xR-V family? Well what’s in a name… A lot apparently.

Still though, good job Honda, you have won your first battle with launching a new car that people talks about and look up to. Now onto the war.

N7X Concept Makes Honda Interesting Again

Honda just unveiled the N7X “concept” in Indonesia that might be a preview for second gen BR-V. The reveal was interesting is that Honda put a lot of effort to make the car looks more premium than even the HR-V. The only telltale that this is an entry/mainstream car is from the dashboard design that’s lifted directly from the Honda Amaze (Brio sedan) sold in India. Anyway, you guys can watch the video of the virtual unveiling.

N7X 3/4 front view
N7X 3/4 rear view

For a 7 seater, Honda move away, like waaaay waaaay from Honda Mobilio/BR-V kinked side windows which going to give the car a more cramped feeling interior wise but definitely a cleaner and more premium looking car externally.

Now let’s discuss about the N7X heritage, the Brio… What? No Brio resemblance? Well that’s because Honda killed the Brio name from the N7X donor, which is the Honda Amaze, which technically is the second generation Honda Brio Amaze. Like my (many) rants about the Brio family, Honda blew it spectacularly with the initial launch of the platform. Everything about the Brio family screams cheap, from cheap materials, lack of sound proofing, lack of amenities, and lack of dignity in its marketing campaign.

Honda Brio Amaze is the sedan version of the Brio hatchback sold in India, Nepal, Philippines and Thailand. In India the car is relatively successful with the massive size of the Indian market and its appetite for compact sedans, however initial good sales comes to a massive dip in its third year. Compared to the competition, the Brio Amaze feels cheap and lacking in content and styling and Honda took the first generation off in just 4 years and fast track the second generation of the car, now just called Amaze. Sales picks up doubling the previous generation model best selling year since it’s launches. The Amaze addresses the Brio Amaze shortcoming especially in the styling department with proportional looks and sorted interior.

Even though the Amaze was launched two years ago, Honda never took the platform to refresh the Brio line. In fact, Honda refreshed the old platform of the original Brio and added proper hatch and call it a day. Honda also kind of refresh the Mobilio which still ride on the same platform with revised nose and added some sound proofing…. So I wonder, with Honda penchant creed to platform share everything, where does the Amaze shared its platform with… And here we are.

Honda Amaze 2019

The most obvious visual cue taken from the Amaze on the N7X is where the hood meet the front fender with the same kink line, the same straight upper body molding and the A pillar. The most striking clue that the N7X is based off the amaze is from the exact same dashboard seen in the video.

N7X interior
Honda Amaze interior

All in all, I like what Honda is doing with the next generation of the Brio family. I fear that the Mobilio is obsolete with the N7X unless Honda wanted to release a decontented version of the car. Yet this is how you hype the market, you build brand cachet first, the rest will fall in place. Honda is with new management now and all I can say, it’s in good hands.

Honda teased new model for Indonesia

Launching in Indonesia in just 2 days, Honda teased two images of a mystery car.

There are three candidate of car reveal by Honda this year, Mobilio, BR-V and ZR-V. The Mobilio is entering its 7th year of production, a long cycle for Honda standard which sticks to 5-6 year model cycle. The same goes to BR-V which is in its 6th year of production. Honda ZR-V although only mentioned in passing as Honda registers the name last year, is strongly pointed by the media that it’s going to be Honda Brio based SUV. With Kia/Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota/Daihatsu already stole the lead selling small SUV, Honda is left alone without one.

It’s hinted by a conversation with party of interest is that this is a “family car”, and with family car in Indonesia is synonymous with 7 seater, this narrows it down to Mobilio or BR-V. However there’s troubling fact that the BR-V doesn’t sell anywhere close to Mobilio, yet the BR-V family name, the CR-V and HR-V carries a familiar symbol of class.

In my previous post, I suggest Honda to kill either Mobilio or BR-V and make do with one model. The image that the BR-V is only a dressed up Mobilio is deeply ingrained, even though it’s not. Honda did extensive rework for the BR-V steering assembly, sound proofing, wider track, and larger headroom on the third row. However, the market is already accustomed to the fact that cars with a “rugged” variation is just a dress up version of the original car, made popular by Nissan Grand Livina and its X-Gear variant, and now, the best selling car in the segment, Mitsubishi Xpander and its “rugged” variant, Xpander Cross.

Honda has realized the fact and in Japan, they launched “rugged” variant of the Fit, called Fit CrosStar, which is just a Fit with different bumper and taller ground clearance. I assume Honda will not repeat the Mobilio and BR-V fiasco again and merge the car into one and probably just add a rugged version which is just a taller version of the original… Introducing 2021 Honda MOBIRIVO.

Anyway, Honda needs a strong emotion stirring product and the teaser looks like it can deliver one. With new management, I believe Honda can put up a good fight and correct past mistake. Now Honda… Give us that delicious 1.0 turbo engine will you? Toyota and Daihatsu already did.

Been awhile… And another Honda car rant

Well, my last post is about 1 1/2 years ago… I’m still alive, it’s just things have been, hectic to say the least, with a global pandemic, starting a new business, and my health went haywire a bit. The thing is also, this blog is supposed to be all things 4 wheels Honda, but as of late, there’s no interesting product from Honda since 2015. The Honda E electric is, eh… The NSX got nowhere in term of excitement, and finally, the trio of entry level cars in APAC region is major snooze fest. The Brio, Mobilio, BR-V, supposed to usher in new era of Honda in APAC, one that is cater made, cars that would fulfill the demographics to the dot.

and it flops…

Honda Brio hatch and Mobilio got discontinued in India and the Brio sedan sales are minimal. Strong Mobilio sales in ASEAN region quickly diminished in the face of competition, ultimately, one that came from Mitsubishi. The first gen Honda Brio abysmal cargo is the laughing stock of the segment. The BR-V sales are lackluster, despite carrying the mantle of the successful xR-V family badge.

Honda did quickly address the Brio sedan situation in India, ushering new full model change in just 4 years. Honda addressed the Brio hatch situation with a new model that extends the cargo bay. Honda upped the content game with the Mobilio, addressing NVH. The results speaks for itself, Honda Brio sedan (now called Honda Amaze) sales picks up nicely in India, Honda Brio hatch is the best selling car in Indonesia, and Honda Mobilio, well, it still exists, selling okay-ish but never back to the top of the segment.

The thing about Honda is that they tend to think what’s best for the customer… STOP IT. The market is not logical, it never is. The market DOESN’T NEED a SENSIBLE CAR, the market WANTS a STATUS SYMBOL. I still remember the original Mobilio pitch with its round headlights and sedated fascia, that it’s a friendly car, a capable friend of the family, hoo boy. Honda Mobilio strong initial sellout was indicative of Honda reputation of being a premium brand for all its existence. Accord, Civic, CR-V, Stream, City, Jazz, are all great cars in its segment and one that earns respect from journalists, enthusiasts, and regulars. The Mobilio was launched to much fanfare that it’s the first affordable 7 seater from Honda since they discontinued the Honda Stream in the region. Then realization hits hard about the car. It’s solidly built but with accompanying strong hint of cheapness everywhere. No smart seating arrangement, with cheap materials used in the interior and the lack of sound proofing makes the Mobilio feels like a joke of a car.

Emotion drives sales Honda, make a car that stirs the emotion not the logic.

Next gen ASEAN/India SUV: Honda India and Honda Indonesia gattai!

Well, I hope one of my reader is an avid Japanese cartoon viewers back in the 90s, or the title will be weird.

According to GaadiWaadi.com, Honda India and Honda Indonesia will collaborate in making the next generation of the WR-V, the Jazz based SUV. Rumoured to be based off the Honda Amaze (Brio Sedan) chassis, the SUV will slot in the sub 4 meter car segment that received a favorable tax breaks than cars with longer size.

The Honda Amaze is Honda heavy hitter in India, carrying significant sales number out of all the Brio chassis (Brio, Mobilio, even BR-V). Building an SUV variant should be given as the Brio concept is Honda answer to same sausage different length platform sharing that offered high efficiency cost reduction.

My criticism for the Brio line has always been about what the car represents, cost savings, and nothing else. When the Brio and Mobilio debuted, it has borderline cheap interior, with uninspiring design and tachometer shade shroud that as useful as Donald Trump’s contribution to stopping climate change.

The collaboration between Honda India and Honda Indonesia SHOULD bear good results, since Honda is being beaten hard in Indonesia even though there’s so few automotive brands and models compared to what Honda India is facing. Honda Indonesia can learn a few thing or two from the Indian market, with the AMAZING success of the Amaze (… Get it? Get it?).

The original Amaze, still called the Brio Amaze when it was launched in 2013 is an oddball of a car, as it’s the Honda Brio hatch with an added trunk and extended wheelbase. The overall look, still retaining 3/4 look of a hatch with an added back end is just weird looking. Thanks for Honda brand cachet, the car still sells, although sellout drops constantly on yearly basis. Then in just 4 years time, one of the quickest full model change Honda ever pulled globally, Honda India revealed the second generation Amaze, dropping the Brio name and sales number skyrocketed. The car, now a properly designed sedan, looks great inside and out. The interior looks upscale enough, without all the weird textured plastic materials that unfortunately bestowed the first generation Brio/Mobilio and it’s competitively priced too.

Honda Indonesia have a similar fate with the Honda Mobilio, initially a wildly popular model in Indonesia, sales dropped to almost 1/3 today from its peak when the car was introduced. Increasing competition from Mitsubishi, Wuling, Suzuki, essentially makes the Mobilio a very bad value proposition. Honda Indonesia can learn a lot from Honda India for the next generation Mobilio, after all, MPV is still a very big market in Indonesia.

Here’s hoping the collaboration extends to the Mobilio.

Source:

Honda’s All-New Amaze Based SUV Likely To Replace WR-V In India