After weeks of various leaks the much awaited Honda N-One has been officially presented to Tokyo. Imagined for the first time at the Tokyo Motor Show 2009 via the adorable EV-N concept which had seduced instantly, it represents a first for Honda in the sense that this manufacturer particularly turned to the front dare for the first time revisit its past, in this case, the N360, the first popular car manufacturer in 1966.
N-One, a kei as its ancestor, takes back size, the general silhouette and front evocative. It is well in the neo-retro, what does not hide by Honda in its communication that juxtaposes the N360 to the new arrival. The name also incorporates the N founding (for norimono, vehicle) which designated the first major project of Soichiro Honda on four wheels after several formative years in small sports and the utilities.
The specifications are such of the kei cars: 3.395 mx L, 1.475 mx L, 1.630 m L, as the engines, 3-cylinder 660 cm3 with or without turbo, 58 or 64 horses and CVT transmission. Honda claims fuel consumption ranging from a little over 4l/100km to 5l/100km according to the models, all very standard for kei modern.
What makes the originality of this offer, is that next to a finishing clean enough, but no frills, in the standards segment, Honda offers a model called Premium, quite expensive for a kei (1.44 million yen to 1,530,000). Specific rims, rods and chrome door handles, leather steering wheel and veneers worked within, the effect is as successful as Honda has taken the gimmick hit the roof of a different color palette and range, not to mention many customization options from the manufacturer or, very soon, there props that smell good vein.
The success of the small imported European visibility and popularity, if not gross, is a good indication of latent demand for this type of car, aside from the disappearance of the catalog Daihatsu Mira Gino. And if the idea is the same, the aforementioned European are too big and too expensive to be direct competitors of the N-One has a corner on the market for itself…
Or … maybe not: this charming competing unexpected N-One could actually come from abroad: the VW Up! Introduced in Japan last month, is selling like hot pretzels (3000 orders in 3 weeks). Even if it does not directly answer kei regulations, it is similar to the performance and very aggressive price for an imported car and puts almost opposite versions “feature” of the N-One. Encouraged by these good figures, and the prospect of the arrival of the Golf VII, VW of Japan provides outright double its sales in 2013 and rise above 100,000 cars sold, unheard of for a non-Japanese brand.
N-One is in any case promised a great success. And who knows if it will not launch a wave neo-retro drawing on local heritage, rich in endearing and expensive cars in the heart of an aging population better disposed to the car, and most creditworthy, a disinterested youth.