Baby SUVs dominate Detroit display
Honda Australia’s prayers may be answered when the Jazz-based Urban SUV goes into production.

_CAR _makers have responded to the public's seemingly unquenchable thirst for compact sport utility vehicles, with a number of baby-sized SUVs revealed at the Detroit Auto Show this week.

Small SUV sales jumped 22.7 per cent in Australia last year and buyers in this segment could have a lot more to choose from in the future if the Detroit display is anything to go by.

Though there are question marks over some models making it to Australia, one expected in local showrooms in the not-too- distant future is the production model of the Honda Urban SUV Concept.

The Japanese manufacturing giant has confirmed the CR-V's baby brother will be built in right-hand drive.

Production models of the Jazz- based SUV are expected to first be made available in Japan at the end of this year, before being introduced to other markets.

Honda Australia has been vocal in its desire for a compact SUV to compete with the likes of the Nissan Dualis and Hyundai ix35, however, it is unknown when the new model will reach Australia or under what moniker.

A petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrain will be offered globally, though whether all three make it to Australia is not yet known.

It could have further competition if models on display in Detroit make it Down Under.

Chrysler's small Compass SUV has been given a revamp with a more "classic Jeep" style and the introduction of a new six-speed automatic gearbox at the expense of the current continuously variable transmission.

Nissan also revealed its Resonance crossover SUV concept at the US expo.

In a sign the small SUV market is one manufacturers feel they can't afford not to be a part of, Ford's luxury brand Lincoln revealed its first small vehicle with the MKC compact SUV, while Audi is reportedly looking at introducing a sub-Q3 model in the future.

Renault was so determined not to be excluded from the small SUV wave, it has eagerly showed off the new Captur well ahead of its official global debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March and its expected launch next year.

Geneva could see much of the same small SUV love, with the Peugeot 4008 crossover already known to be debuting in Switzerland.

Going small wasn't restricted to the sport utility vehicle sector at Detroit however, with many manufacturers showing off a series of compact cars, including Mercedes' new smaller CLA four- door coupe/baby sedan and BMW's all-electric small car, the i3 Concept Coupe.

The West Australian

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