Two engine options, no RS. Why?
Honda Cars Philippines Inc (HCPI) just launched the all-new HR-V. They opted for two initial offerings with two engine options: a 1.5-liter non-turbo S variant and a 1.5-liter turbo V variant. In addition, Honda Sensing comes as a standard feature for both models.
During the Q&A at the HR-V press conference, we took the time to ask Honda executives some interesting questions about how they came up with the all-new model's packaging, what they think of its performance, and of course, its pricing.
The first question of which was why the S variant was offered without a turbo, while the top-of-the-line V has the same turbo engine as the entire Civic range. According to Honda's marketing execs, they wanted the all-new HR-V to cater to a broader audience.
Putting in a turbocharged engine would have impacted the price of the HR-V S, so they packaged the base model with a naturally aspirated engine to make it more cost-effective. The trade-offs are two fold: the first is the lower power, but that HR-V was able to have Honda Sensing – a safety feature that's not usually offered to entry-level models. As to how much the HR-V S would be if it had a 1.5 turbo, we could only speculate the price to go up to around the PHP 1.4-million range.
Of course, having a 1.5-liter NA to a 1200kg crossover would certainly raise a few questions in terms of its pulling power. The non-turbo engine of the HR-V is the same powerplant used in the far smaller and far lighter Honda City, and it could be arguably be dealing with too much weight in the HR-V. Upon raising that query, Honda answered that the HR-V would not feel underpowered with the 1.5-liter NA, and thus, they are sure that it could make it up a mountain road (e.g. up to Baguio). But of course, we'll put that to the test later on.
The previous generation HR-V can be somewhat considered a pioneer in its segment, particularly in making it popular. However, this new generation model enters a segment packed with a lot of contenders such as the Corolla Cross of Toyota, as well Chinese-made models such as the Ford Territory, MG ZS and HS, and of course, the Geely Coolray, and so on and so forth.
While Honda has the advantage of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) since it's made in Thailand, the HR-V falls into a price range where it is affected by the excise tax, and hence, pulls a more premium price tag compared to its competitors. So how confident are they that the HR-V would stay on top?
According to Honda Cars PH General Manager Atty. Louie Soriano and Honda Cars PH President Masahiko Nakamura, they recognize the advantages of many rival models when it comes to price, features, and even engines. But they are banking on the strength of the Honda brand, their servicing, and the many more attributes that make Honda such a popular brand in the Philippine market to keep the HR-V in its rightful place in the segment.
Last but not least was the absence of the RS variant. Everyone indeed noted that there is no RS variant available in the initial launch lineup, and generally, Honda does not respond to questions about their upcoming model introductions and variants, but not this time.
Atty. Louie Soriano confirmed that the HR-V RS 1.5 turbo is coming. As to when exactly, of course, the Honda PH GM did not specify. As for its pricing, he wouldn't say anything either. But of course, it's expected to be considerably more expensive than the V variant. As to how much, we reckon it would probably be in the PHP 1.7-million range.
So what do you think of the new Honda HR-V? Do you think Honda PH has a good strategy when it comes to its models? And do you think the non-turbo will make it up to Baguio? Let us know in the comments, and we'll try to demonstrate that last one if we can.