Recently, Honda joined the retro chic wagon with their N One, Kei car. Although this car was launched, earlier this month, only in Japan. It seems like there might be plans to sell it in other markets.
Honestly, I am an extreme hater of cute retro styled VW Beetles, Mini Coopers & Fiat 500s. Though this Honda somehow grew on me; it just started giving me ideas about how it would look like it if it was given to a stance & fitment freak. As a matter of fact, Mugen already released special kits and packages for the N One:
Though anything resembling the N One, especially in size, usually stays in Japan:
The N-One uses the same engine and powertrain as Honda’s slightly taller and heavier N Box models with a continuously variable transmission sending engine power (42.5kW in the standard car and 48kW for the turbo model) to the front or all four wheels, the 4×4 option being for the turbocharged engine only.
At just 3385mm long, the N-One is nearly 80mm shorter over all than a Fiat 500, though at 2520mm its wheelbase is longer.
The Honda N-One is developed under the aegis of Honda’s M/M system which translate to: “man maximum, machine minimum.”
Thus, despite being so short overall, its long wheelbase allows the interior to seat four, with extra flexibility coming from the car’s fold-flat Magic Seat system pioneered on the Jazz hatch and US Ridgeline ute models. The fuel tank is mounted under the floor in the centre of the car and as well as liberating such large volume of useable space, it keeps the car’s centre of gravity relatively low too.
The N-One lineup includes a higher grade model called the N-One Premium, which features a higher-quality exterior and interior with special cabin and body colours and contrast tones for the car’s roof.
On the safety side, the N-One offers equipment unheard of in Kei-cars of the past. There’s an Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) system, which responds to sudden braking and quickly blinks hazard lamps automatically to alert the drivers of trailing vehicles. Also standard is VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), an HSA (Hill Start Assist) system that temporarily prevents the vehicle from rolling backward when starting on an upward incline, side curtain airbags and what Honda calls its Pedestrian Injury Mitigation Body, which has structures that absorb the impact of a collision on a pedestrian’s head and legs in case of a collision.
The car went on sale this week in Japan from NZ$16,000, and while that’s too close to Jazz pricing for it to be landed here new, we’d expect the car to be high on the list of used imports in a year or so, as the public realises the benefits of smaller, cleaner motoring. Oh, and it does look so cute!
The “N” used in the N360 and the new N-One is for “norimono” which is “vehicle” in Japanese. The early N-series cars grew to 400 and 600cc versions as Honda wanted to market the car overseas and the original 360 model was seen as too small to cope, though from driving one in the 1970s, it was at least as fast as the 850 Leyland Mini and quicker in terms of acceleration.
The N600 ended production in 1972, in time to make way for the first Civic model.
The N One is a spiritual successor of the Honda’s original N 360 as seen in this advertisement
that has nothing to do with the car: