Friday, September 27, 2013

Honda N BOX + Is Crazy. Versatile.

Honda N BOX + front
Japan is known for its funky, practical, and very small Kei cars. The only example of a Kei car in the U.S. is the Mitsubishi iMiEV, and if you've ever seen one in person, you know they're petite to say the least. But they're often times very interesting, if not for the sole fact we don't see them here, sans the occasional Daihatsu Hijet that's been purchased by a college for grounds maintenance or deliveries. However, I've always had a thing for Kei vehicles, and one was recently brought to my attention by a Subcompact Culture reader.  

The vehicle at the left is a Honda N BOX +. No, it isn't necessarily the prettiest girl at the dance, but it's incredibly versatile.

The Honda N BOX already had some of the most space of any mini car out there, the N BOX + (note the "+" designation) has two additional features that make it interesting. First, Honda introduced what it calls the "Universal Bridge" which combines a sloped floor and attachable aluminum ramp for loading and unloading things like bikes, luggage, maybe a dog, and perhaps the occasional transportation of a goat ... and, well, anything else you could think of.

Honda N BOX + cutaway

Secondly, Honda developed what it calls the "Multi-space System" to allow for different interior configurations within the vehicle. Note the rear seats all but disappear in Flat, Slope, and Bed mode. Yes, Bed mode. You could sleep in one of these four-wheeled boxes. This fact alone makes me want this piece of Japanese unobtainium even more.

Honda N BOX + configurations

Honda is already renowned for its interior packaging ability. For example, the Magic Seats in the Honda Fit are fantastic, and the gone (but not forgotten) Element's interior was essentially the Swiss Army Knife of vehicle interiors. So the N BOX + is basically another iteration of Honda's ability to brilliantly use interior space. Oh look, an N BOX + video:

Powered by the biggest engine possible to still be called a Kei car—a 660cc mill—the N BOX + doesn't even make 60 horespower. But, that's not the point. The point is this is a cool-ass little tallwagon with a super versatile interior.

My question is where are these super-practical vehicles in the U.S.? I mean, Toyota killed off the original xB; Honda no longer makes the Element. Remember the Nissan Axxess and Mitsubishi Expo LRV? They were small, super practical, but sold less units than the Pontiac Aztek did on its worst days (well, maybe). I suppose we have minivans, some of which are super practical, although not very "mini" anymore. I'd drive one of these Honda bricks until the wheels fell off. Yes, they'd likely have to up the horsepower a bit for the U.S., and who knows if this rolling rectangle could get through U.S. crash tests (likely not). But vehicles like this make me long for small, practical, versatile transportation in a Kleenex box shape.

Thanks to Peter for the story idea! Got a story idea? Send us an email.

Honda N BOX + front



Anonymous said...

I love this little car! Ugly: yes, a bit perhaps. But functional and efficient which I really love! And, though small, I fell like it could actually be used to carry kids + groceries unlike some of our other favorite subcompacts.

Rich M said...

Woo! The Daihatsu Hijet pic I tweeted was referenced.

Good article!

I wouldn't mind a Honda N-one AWD Turbo. I wonder how much the turbo ones put out?

MugenReplica said...

You should really throw up the 1st Gen Honda Stream (the father of the DC5 & EP3) and showcase its odd (for 2001) 3 lobe intake, 1 lobe exhaust K20a if you ever have time.

Peter said...

I so want this car! I wish we could get them here. I mean, at the end of the day, they are safer than any motorcycle, right?