Click to enlarge

Honda is displaying the Small SUV RS at the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) 2022, which opens today at BSD City outside of Jakarta. The prototype is wrapped in camouflage and parked inside a glass box.

Last month, images of a mystery Honda SUV were leaked in Indonesia and it looked very much like a production car. Many expected the SUV to make its debut at GIIAS, but it looks like Honda isn’t ready for a full launch yet. However, the carmaker has said that this model “will be a new line from Honda” and that it will be “Honda’s first model in the small SUV segment” and “will be officially launched in the near future”.

How near? Hopefully by the end of this year, Honda Prospect Motor’s sales and marketing director Yusak Billy told Kompas at the show.

Leaked pics of Small SUV RS – click to enlarge

The Japanese carmaker has also confirmed that this car is a development of the original SUV RS Concept from GIIAS 2021. Compared to the first draft, this Small SUV RS is a much watered down design.

Based on the leaked pics, the 2021 SUV RS’ “fade out” grille has been replaced by a more conventional item, with the chrome studded RS treatment seen on the new HR-V RS. There’s a chrome bar on the top of the grille, but the headlamps are much larger than the slim/sharp eyes of the 2021 concept. That’s only to be expected – showcar lights and wheels are usually exaggerated.

Fog lamps are needed for the actual car, so the lower side elements aren’t so minimalist. There’s a sliver skid plate-style trim but it has three notches instead of two. The nose of the car also appears to be more upright. Overall, the face is inoffensive, if a bit conventional.

Original 2021 SUV RS Concept – click to enlarge

The rear is a huge departure from the first concept, both in shape and details. The 2021 SUV RS showcar had a steep, sloping rear screen (unrealistic for such a small car, perhaps) and full-width LED signatures, just like on the new HR-V. The so-called production car is clearly not a baby HR-V then, with more regular angles and tail lamp clusters.

Details that can be seen here are a decently sized spoiler, 3D-style tail lamps that aren’t flat, and silver trim on the diffuser area to match the front end. Also, inverted L-shaped LED signatures like on the Civic FE.

With the new HR-V growing in size and price, there’s room for a small Honda SUV to battle the Daihatsu Rocky and Toyota Raize in Indonesia.

Will this come to Malaysia to fight the Perodua Ativa? Nothing is impossible, but generally, it’s very difficult for non-national brands to introduce entry-level models in our market and be competitive with national rivals in terms of specs/price. It’s not easy to top the Ativa AV’s kit list (even the base HR-V at RM114,800 fails to do so) without incurring a big premium, which will then bring the small SUV’s price close to the HR-V. Such are the intricacies of our market, which unlike our ASEAN neighbours, has national brands.