Published November 05, 2012
Honda may be a big player in small cars, but even it doesn’t think we’re ready for this.
The N-One microcar is a modern interpretation of the company’s cult classic N360/600, and features enough retro cuteness to make Lana Del Rey blush. Designed to fit the parameters of Japan’s tax and insurance break-laden kei car class, it’s as big as the law allows, which means tiny.
Shorter in length than a Fiat 500, the N-One nevertheless sports four doors and room for four passengers in a more modernly styled cabin that maximizes utility with a severely rectilinear shape. Its gas tank is located under the front seats to allows the use of a folding rear Magic Seat, similar to the one found in the Honda Fit.
But under the hood is a 660cc three-cylinder motor that, by regulation, can’t produce more than 63 hp. To put that in perspective, even the smaller Smart Fortwo has a 1.0-liter engine with 70 hp, making it the least powerful car currently sold in America. The N-One won’t be challenging it for that title.
Despite a growing roster of microcars in the U.S. that now includes the Scion iQ and strong-selling Chevy Spark, Honda won’t be selling the N-One here. Nostalgia will only get you so far, and with a base price of over $14,000 in Japan where it is built, apparently not far enough for the N-One.