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Is Australia missing out on the better Honda HR-V? More rugged version of small SUV teased for America

The US-market Honda HR-V has a more rugged look than the global version set for local launch.

The new-generation Honda HR-V is landing in Australia this year, but could we be getting a cooler version?

Honda’s United States outpost has released a pair of sketches of the next-generation HR-V small SUV that looks decidedly more rugged than the model landing in Australian showrooms imminently.

The sketches show a vehicle driving in snowy terrain with snowboards attached to the roof racks, hinting at a more adventure-focused vibe than the outgoing model.

When the new-gen HR-V – also called Vezel in some markets – was revealed in early 2021, Honda said North America would have to wait for its own unique version.

And now the teaser campaign has begun.

There are clear differences between the HR-V the rest of the world gets and this American version.

While the headlights appear to be the same shape, the US HR-V features a more rugged looking grille, much larger lower air intakes and cladding on the lower apron.

The overall silhouette is expected to match, but the rear of the US version looks to have larger tail-lights with a new lighting signature, and it’s missing the light bar connecting the LED tail-lights from the global model.

The carmaker hasn’t revealed any technical details at this point but it is expected to share its underpinnings with the global HR-V.

Honda America dubbed 2022 “the year of the crossover” and it is clearly looking to butch up the styling of its SUV range.

It has already tweaked the design of the Passport large SUV (not sold outside North America) with more off-road styling touches.

However, like most other US-market Hondas – think Ridgeline pick-up, Pilot and Passport SUVs – it’s highly unlikely the US-market HR-V will make it Down Under.

Australia will get the global version of the Honda HR-V early this year. Australia will get the global version of the Honda HR-V early this year.

Honda Australia is gearing up to launch the new HR-V early this year and for the first time it will be offered with a hybrid powertrain.

The hybrid setup combines two electric motors with a 1.5-litre engine, delivering a combined 96kW/253Nm. Fuel use is a low as 4.0L/100km, according to Japanese documentation.

A regular petrol engine is also expected to be part of the new range.

If Honda follows the pricing strategy of the recently launched Civic hatchback, that could mean new HR-V pricing starts north of $40,000 – even higher for the hybrid version.

That’s pushing into premium territory and could put it in competition with models like the Lexus UX (from $44,445) and BMW X1 ($47,900).

Mainstream rivals for the new HR-V include hybrid offerings such as the Toyota C-HR, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross plug-in hybrid and the upcoming new-generation Nissan Qashqai.