HONDA MALAYSIA in March dropped the big news that it is looking to launch three new car models and one facelift model this year.
Hondo hinted at one only model, the WR-V.
The carmaker's foray into the local small sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment marks it as the first Japanese automotive brand to do so.
Going by its Indonesian specs, the front wheel drive (FWD) WR-V houses a 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder DOHC engine with i-VTEC that's paired to a CVT to deliver 119hp at 6,600 rpm and 145Nm of torque at 4,300rpm.
The five-star Asean NCAP-rated SUV comes with LED exterior lighting, a multi-angle view reverse camera, keyless entry and remote engine start, a 4.2-inch TFT multi-info display, a 7-inch audio touchscreen display, six speakers, automatic air-conditioning, leather and fabric combination upholstery, six airbag, and vehicle stability assist.
Sitting atop 17-inch wheels, it has a wheelbase of 2,485mm and measures at 4,060mm in length, 1,780mm width and 1,608mm height.
Only the top spec variant comes with the Honda Sensing driver assistance system.
This includes adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, lead car departure alert and auto high beam.
In Indonesia, the WR-V is priced from 279,4 million rupiahs to 317,4 million rupiahs (RM81,500 to RM92,650) .
Honda said the compact SUV will replace the to-be discontinued 7-seater BR-V.
Research shows that this is a strategic move given market trends. We will however get to see the local model only during its launch in Q3.
2023 City facelift
Since Honda did mention a facelift model, the obvious choice would be the 2023 City.
The facelift of the fifth-generation model was seen in India and would make the most sense for a refresh since the City is almost 2 years old.
Not much has changed in the way of performance and offerings other than the exterior, which is much more sportier.
The assumption is the power trains will remain the same with standard 1.5L DOHC i-Vtec engine and the hybrid i-MMD system.
Local masked sightings of the model and the Thailand launch signal the eventual arrival of the new CR-V.
The sixth-generation model borrows design elements from the new HR-V, making the SUV the sportiest it has ever been, at least this was seen in a RS variant at the Bangkok Motorshow this year.
It's hard to say if our local specs will resemble the Thai specs, but if it matches up, customers will be greeted with a 1.5 litre turbo engine that's mated to a returning CVT to deliver 190hp at 6,000 rpm and 242Nm of torque at 1,700 to 5,000 rpm, and an e:HEV hybrid variant, which Honda has been adopting with its latest models.
There's also a choice between the standard FWD and an all-wheel (AWD) drivetrain.
The e:HEV variant is said to adopt a similar powertrain setup of the current Civic e:HEV by pairing the 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine and e-CVT together with two electric motors to deliver a max output of 204hp and 371Nm.
According to the Thailand spec list, the exterior kit includes all-round LED lights and sensors, panoramic electric sunroof, walk-away auto close and 18-inch alloys.
The RS variant adds black styling in place of chrome, adaptive driving beam headlights, a rear spoiler and 19-inch two-tone alloy wheels.
Cabin highlights include a 9.0-inch touch screen infotainment system with wireless compatible Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10.2-inch digital meter panel, wireless charger and steering paddle shifters.
The RS supposedly gets a head-up display, 12-speaker Bose sound system and built-in navigation.
Honda Sensing and Honda LaneWatch are said to be standard across all variants.
Pricing for the CR-V in Thailand starts from 1,419,000 bahts (RM182,575).
Thanks to a singlegear knob photo at the presentation slide, the fourth model has been predicted to be the new CIvic Type-R FL5.
Japanese specs have the FWD model use a returning KC20C1 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual to deliver 326hp at 6,500rpm and 420Nm from 2,600 to 4,000rpm, which is a 10hp and 20Nm boost over the previous FK8 Type-R.
Highlights include a frontage with the effective opening area of the radiator having increased by 48 per cent from its enlarged grille.
There's also a lighter flywheel and revised rev-match system for improved downshifting, while the transmission gains a high-rigidity lever and an optimised shift gate pattern, and suspension gains increased support rigidity with a retuned front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link.
Pricing and availability are the biggest challenge with the car.
In Japan, Honda has temporarily suspended taking orders for the 4,997,300 yen (RM167,100) car.
Thailand however has the latest Type-R with a price of up to 3,990,000 bahts (RM513,400).
The previous Type-R model cost about RM300,000.