Is there anything quite so exciting as seeing a brand-new vehicle for the very first time? Part of the allure of auto shows is the chance to see new ideas, just before they're fully baked and ready for public consumption. "Prototypes" you might say, of production models that are just around the corner. Or, in the case of the Honda HR-V, already down the block a ways.
Here in Paris, Honda has unveiled its HR-V Prototype, a nearly production-ready version of a "new SUV for Europe." Before we take umbrage with that SUV designation – as far as we can tell the Fit-based crossover isn't much of a mudder – we should address the fact that at this year's New York Auto Show in April, Honda handed over just a few images and specs of the actually production-read HR-V for the US. Presumably this is a "prototype" for Europe, where the NYC car is US-specific, but we're still scratching our heads a bit.
No matter! Here in France, Honda tells us that the utile little hatch will be available powered by both a 1.5-liter gasoline engine (the one American customers will see), and a 1.6-liter diesel unit, both wearing the company's Earth Dreams Technology label and presumably running cleaner and more frugally than ever. In Europe, a standard six-speed manual will come with both mills, while the 1.5-liter will offer the option of a continuously variable transmission.
Inside, expect the same bigger-inside-than-outside magic that we've discussed with the standard Fit (or "Jazz" here in Paris) thanks to Honda's seriously flexible Magic Seat.
The HR-V will shed its prototype designation and go on sale in Europe next summer.