The end of production of Acura’s (NYSE:HMC) peculiar ZDX coupe-ish SUV means that there is an opening on its roster for a compact utility vehicle of some kind, and recent reports indicate that Honda’s luxury brand is thinking about a model based on the Honda Vezel, a newly introduced compact crossover that shares its foundation with the Honda Fit.
The Vezel debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in November and is scheduled to arrive in U.S. showrooms later this year, though under a different name. Nearly half of the Vezel uses components borrowed from the Fit, including the platform and powertrain, Automotive News reports.
However, Honda is exploring what it would mean to build a corresponding Acura model of the Vezel along the lines of the SUV-X Concept (pictured above) that was introduced at the Shanghai auto show last year.
Though the Vezel’s primary market is China, there is a global opportunity for the model, according to Honda executives. ”There is a market for it worldwide, not just in China,” engineer Naohisa Morishita, who penned the SUV X, said, per Automotive News. “Personally, I think Acura needs it.”
For Acura, it would be a way to fend off the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, both subcompact crossovers. Mercedes-Benz is joining the fray soon with the GLA, and it’s likely a matter of time before more companies enter the segment. The Acura version of the Vezel would be about the same height, though a bit wider and a little wider. It would be engineered in Japan and manufactured in China, Honda said.
Another issue that Honda could face with the new models is justifying the bump from the Vezel to the more premium Acura. While that leap is easier to make with luxury sedans and big SUVs, it appears to be more difficult when smaller utilitarian cars are concerned.