Honda will launch Euro-version of Vezel crossover in 2015

The Vezel's design fuses SUV-like stability with coupe-like styling, Honda says.
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Honda will join Europe's booming subcompact SUV/crossover segment by launching a European-version of its new Vezel, which is based on the Jazz/Fit subcompact.

Honda has begun sales of the Vezel in Japan with a starting price of 1.87 million yen ($18,147).

The automaker said the Vezel will go on sale in Europe in 2015. U.S. sales begin in the second half of 2014.

The Vezel is offered in Japan with a hybrid variant that combines a 1.5-liter direct-injection Earth Dreams engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and 22-kilowatt electric motor. The standard gasoline version teams the 1.5-liter engine with a continuously variable transmission.

Honda has not said if the hybrid will be offered in Europe or the United States.

The company said specifications, engine options and naming of the model are still to be confirmed for the European market.

Yoshiharu Itai, the Vezel's chief engineer, said the company ideally wants to keep the name standardized because it is a global strategic vehicle. But Honda officials say it may be tweaked to suit local markets. The Japan name comes from the word “bezel,” the mounting for gemstones. But it gets a befuddling Japanese twist in swapping the “b” for a “v,” two sounds often indistinguishable to the Japanese ear.

The crossover is key to Honda President Takanobu Ito’s push to boost global sales to 6 million vehicles in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, from 4.01 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013. By 2016, the Jazz/Fit hatchback and its Vezel crossover and City sedan variants will account for worldwide sales of 1.6 million units, Ito says.

The Vezel's European version will compete against cars such as the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008 and Renault Captur.

Hans Greimel in Tokyo contributed to this report

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