Honda to Rejoin Thai MPV market with "Freed"?

Honda Freed Image

Honda is likely to rejoin the MPV market in Thailand with a all-new model: the Freed. Just launched in Japan, the Freed is rumoured to be on the way to Thailand as early as this year.

Honda have had a busy few years in Thailand as they worked hard to bring in new models, but they are not stopping any time soon. Starting in 2005 Thailand got the all-new Civic, followed by the new CR-V, followed by the new Accord, and most recently the all-new Jazz arrived this year. The City is due for replacement with the all-new model, based on the new Jazz platform, and that is probably due around September.

The Freed will probably arrive after the new City.

What is the Freed?

The Freed is a compact MPV, which is currently on sale in Japan. It is available in 5-seat, 7-seat and 8-seat configurations. In Japan, pricing for the Freed is not far below the Stream, but in Thailand we can expect the Freed to be priced in the same sort of ball park as the Civic. Putting it a little above the Avanza, but still low enough to steer sales away from the Toyota. Also, given the interior space offered by the Freed, it is possible that a few prospective Wish customers might have a serious look at the Freed also.

Freed Interior

In 7-seat and 8-seat configurations, the Freed offers three rows of seats: 2 front seats, 2 middle row seats, and 3 rear row seats for the seven seat model, and 2, 3, 3 for the eight seat model. From the pictures I would assume that the rear seat is most suitable for 2 adults with 3 passengers only being possible if they are children.

Freed - Engine

In Japan the freed is powered by a 1.5 litre SOHC i-VTEC engine delivering around 118ps. This could possibly be the same unit as the Thai Jazz, but tuned differently to meet tougher Japanese emissions laws. In Thailand there is no reason why the Freed couldn't share the same engine as the Jazz.

Honda Freed engine

However, the Freed will not be built in Thailand. Should it come here it will likely be via Indonesia by way of the AFTA, allowing for competitive pricing despite being imported in CBU form. This is currently the case for the Toyota Avanza.

Where does it fit in?

The Freed has some hints of the Jazz to it, but the dimensions are too far away from the Jazz. At 4,215mm long, 1,695mm wide, and 1,715mm high the Freed is bigger than these images might lead you to think.

Honda Freed Side

The wheelbase is particularly long at 2,700mm and this translates into masses of interior space. In fact at 2,652mm of interior length, the Freed is well above the Avanza and is actually not that far off the Wish.

But the 1.5 engine suggests that the Freed is pitted in the same segment as the Avanza, and won't offer the same sort of performance/comfort as the Wish with a 2.0 litre.

Honda Freed Interior

Fuel consumption figures from the Japanese base model Freed are stated as 16.4km/l. This is impressive when you consider the bulk of the car, but expect these figures to be unattainable in the real world.

The Japanese Freed comes with a Auto-CVT to send power to the front wheels. This system will be familiar to previous generation Jazz and current generation City owners.

Why now?

The Honda Stream has been missing from the Thai market for years, after Honda virtually conceded defeat to the Toyota Wish, and quietly removed the Stream from Thai showrooms. Toyota now dominate the MPV market with three models all offering usability to the family-oriented, or those in need of people movers.

The Freed might be a very good vehicle for Honda to use to take on all three Toyota offerings, the Innova, Avanza and Wish, with just one vehicle, and without the need for heavy investment in Thailand.

Here is the Honda Freed Image Gallary