Honda (NYSE: HMC) unveiled its all-new Vezel at the Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday.
The Vezel is a small crossover SUV that looks like a sibling of the Honda Fit that will be launched in the U.S. next year.
That new Fit is already on sale in Japan, and Honda says the Vezel will join it there next month, in both conventional and hybrid versions.
Honda hasn't yet announced any plans to offer the Vezel here, but there's a good chance that it will be coming to U.S. dealers. Let's take a closer look.
A small crossover that could go global
Honda says that the Vezel "belongs to a new category of automobiles that fuses together multifaceted values at a high level."
I have a feeling that phrase, like the name "Vezel," probably sounds a lot better in Japanese.
A simpler translation might be "small crossover." It's a safe bet that the Vezel is aimed at rivals like Nissan's Juke and Hyundai's Tucson, as well as the Fiesta-based EcoSport SUV that Ford sells in many overseas markets.
The Vezel will be offered in Japan with a choice of two powertrains: a direct-injected 1.5-liter four cylinder, and an optional "sport hybrid" system that uses the same engine along with an electric motor.
Honda didn't give specifics on those engines (or much else), but that 1.5-liter engine may be a new turbocharged VTEC powerplant, part of a new family of high-tech turbo engines that the company announced earlier this week.
Inside, there's a familiar Honda look. The automaker said the interior's design "creates a coupe-like, high-quality personal space for the front seats and minivan-like elbowroom, comfort and functionality for the rear seats."
Honda said it would release more details on the Vezel shortly before the vehicle goes on sale in Japan next month. the company didn't say anything to suggest that it would come to the United States, but I think it will. Here's why.
Why the Vezel -- but maybe not its name -- will probably come here
Back in July, the company unveiled the vehicle that will be the all-new 2015 Honda Fit when it comes here next year. At that time, we heard that the new Fit would be built for the U.S. market in a factory now under construction in Mexico.
We also heard that the Fit would get an all-new 1.5-liter engine -- just like the Vezel has -- but that the hybrid version wouldn't be brought to the U.S. And we heard that Honda's new Mexican factory would build two new Fit variants: a small sedan and a subcompact crossover SUV, both available in hybrid versions.
It makes sense that the Vezel is that new subcompact crossover. The U.S. market version may get some trim changes, and I won't be at all surprised if Honda decides to give it a new name. (Obviously, the vehicles Honda builds for sale in the U.S. will be left-side drive, unlike this Japan-market Vezel.)
What do you think? Would you buy an Americanized version of Honda's new Vezel? Scroll down to leave a comment and let me know.