While the apple waits for the accessible Burghal EV electric hatchback, if you’re a fan of retrocuteism and Honda’s automobiles and charge a new ride post-haste, you’ve got absolutely one option. Unfortunately, you’re activity to accept to biking to Japan to acquisition it: the Honda N-One.
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No, the N-One isn’t new, accepting aboriginal accustomed in its home country way aback in the 2012 archetypal year. Some baby things date this car’s active experience, but otherwise, this diminutive auto charcoal a refreshingly simple and blithesome way to motor. As I accomplished with a day’s drive in the affection of Tokyo, the 2018 N-One is additionally not alone badly space-efficient, it’s still amazing fun to drive.
Developed in the cast of the 1967 N360, Honda’s actual aboriginal minicar, the N-One is aloof 133.7 inches continued and a super-skinny 58.1 inches wide. For perspective, that’s about a bottom beneath (144.4 inches) and a half-foot narrower than a Fiat 500. Remarkably, Honda has managed to charge four full-size, wide-swinging doors into this brand — abundantly because this car has no overhangs to allege of. The N-One’s ultra-long 99.2-inch wheelbase helps, too. That’s aloof 0.4 inches beneath than the about 28-inch-longer Fit five-door you can acquisition at your bounded Honda dealer.
Despite its tiny admeasurement — and I can’t accent this abundant — the N-One is shockingly ample inside, with affluence of amplitude for four adults, alike those of Western proportions. Like other kei-class cars, this Honda is a masterclass in packaging efficiency.
How best to aerate autogenous space? Zero overhangs and alpine berth height.
In fact, the alone breadth in which you absolutely apprehension a abridgement of amplitude is back it comes to width: The N-One is far narrower than any car you can buy in the US or Canada today. Honda’s designers accept fabricated the best of what amplitude is available. The chubby gearshift is army on the dashboard, acceptation you won’t accident bumping it. In fact, you can calmly adeptness beyond to accessible the passenger-side aperture after strain. I’m almost ample shouldered and begin no issues benumbed alongside a adolescent American passenger. Aloof don’t apprehend a centermost animate with allowance for all of those crazy Japanese 7-Eleven drinks you aloof denticulate — you’ll accept to backing those in the dashboard cup holders.
If you haven’t accomplished one of Japan’s tiny kei cars, you can’t possibly appreciate how a car that casts such a baby adumbration can crop so abundant space. Acknowledgment in allotment to its aerial roofline, bank dashboard and upright, chair-like seats, the N-One’s adeptness to absorb bodies and things is absolutely Tardis-like. Here’s an breezy Twitter video walkaround to allegorize my point:
It’s additionally account advertence that Honda has done a amazing job acceptance for the personalization of the N-One both central and out. There are no beneath than four audible appearance packages: Standard, Select, Premium and RS, anniversary with their own appearance faculty central and out.
On the outside, my sport-minded RS appearance Sunset Orange acrylic with allegory atramentous accents accoutrement the grille, roof, 15-inch split-spoke alloys and mirror caps. Inside, a perforated leather-wrapped caster is adapted forth with steel-look birr panels. Silver and red bond is begin on the seats and analogous red bezels arena the apparatus cluster, infotainment awning and outboard HVAC vents.
The N-One comes in four audible flavors, alignment from balmy awakening to adventurous to kawaii.
If you adopt a bold quasiluxury look, Honda will appropriately fit your Select archetypal with amber upholstery and faux maple trim. If Japan’s kawaii style is added your scene, you can adjustment an N-One in delicate shades like Peach Blossom or Surf Blue with a white grille, wheels, roof and mirror caps, and blueprint a analogous ivory autogenous with herringbone cloth, white-face gauges and bright trim.
That’s aloof for starters — there are hundreds of dealer-installed accessories on offer, abundant to accomplish a Mini banker bawl with envy. Gingham door-handle covers? Check. Dandelion-in-the-breeze grille appliqué? Can do. Paw-print “meatball” gearshift lever? Yup. Swarovski-crystal-encrusted ancillary mirror caps? Uh huh. Japan’s adolescence may not be able to beat affairs a house, but Honda is actuality to ensure they can allow to adapt the hell out of their minicars.
A blown-away dandelion burden is aloof one of about a dozen altered grille appliqués.
It’s important to agenda that the N-One delivers far beneath ability than America’s Fiat 500, which afresh confused to an all-turbocharged lineup. Alike my up-level N-One’s RS trim’s turbocharged, 660-cc three-cylinder provides aloof 63 application and 77 pound-feet of torque.
That sounds like a compound for acutely apathetic progress, but this little front-driver is fun in the cut-and-thrust apple of megacity driving. The tiny 0.6-liter agent spools up quickly, and the continuously capricious manual makes the best of what ability is available, abnormally with the RS’ about-face paddles that arouse seven preselected ratios.
The Honda is additionally abundant lighter than the Fiat, acceptance in at beneath 2,000 pounds — a abject 500 Pop is over 25 percent heavier. In added words, the stoplight-to-stoplight Tokyo tango isn’t aloof achievable in the N-One, it’s entertaining.
You’re adorable at 0.6 liter and three cylinders of turbocharged fury.
Of course, that action absolutely fades if college speeds are alleged for. While the N-One’s 0-30 mph is altogether ill-fitted to burghal traffic, 0-60 mph takes absolutely longer. I didn’t accept any testing accessory handy, but I’d adjudge its time to be about 15 abnormal — an aeon by avant-garde standards. I took my Sunset Orange and Atramentous tester out on the Shuto Expressway, and the N-One’s turbo amateur absolutely got a bit buzzy as it started to run out of puff.
Fortunately (?), Tokyo’s assessment anchorage accept low acceleration banned and callous enforcement, so the N-One’s abridgement of artery blow isn’t a huge issue. Many expressways are capped at aloof 60 kph (37 mph), admitting some sections top out nearer to 50 mph. You’d absolutely appetite added action if you had to commonly biking Japan’s highways venturing from burghal to city, but actual few bodies drive such distances — locals are accomplished users of Japan’s accomplished and all-inclusive Shinkansen ammo alternation network. Either way, if you’re a burghal aborigine in Japan, the N-One has abundant power, and all-wheel drive is alternative for those who alive in snowier climes.
Keep a ablaze pedal, and you’ll see the agnate of 61 afar per gallon on Japan’s added allowing JC08 analysis aeon with the turbo engine, or 67 mpg with the pokier artlessly aspirated unit.
The N-One is allotment of Japan’s kei chic of cars, which are bound in agreement of admeasurement and displacement in barter for tax and allowance breaks.
I accede myself to be a allotment affiliate of the “slow car fast” club: a acceptance amid some active enthusiasts that it’s added advantageous to beat a low-powered car adamantine than it is to drive a activating auto after blame it. Actuality in the US, cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Ford Fiesta ST prove that tidy dimensions, ablaze weight and acute affability can consistently peg the fun beat in means that sports cars with three or four times the ability cannot. The Honda N-One’s basal architecture may be aging, but it still takes this active abstraction to its acme — at atomic in burghal environs.
(Heck, that may additionally be accurate alike on racetracks: There’s a committed antagonism alternation for these things alleged the N-One Owner’s Cup. How fun does this look?)
The N-One’s active position is smart, apparent afterimage is absurd acknowledgment to abbreviate A-pillars, the pedals are able-bodied placed and appropriately weighted, and the small-diameter council caster feels good. The electrically assisted arbor and adhere council is a bit ablaze for my tastes, but that weighting helps lower accent levels back it comes to negotiating Tokyo’s awfully bound parking spaces.
The N-One’s infotainment feels anachronous and ailing integrated, but you can watch alive TV on it.
If there’s one breadth breadth this Honda feels its age, it’s the dashboard. Not alone are the plastics not up to today’s standards, the N-One’s gauges and infotainment appear beyond as dated.
The double-DIN-sized aeronautics assemblage feels absolutely aftermarket in an age breadth best such systems accept become far bigger integrated. It’s the array of bureaucracy that relies on tiny, chiclet-style buttons and last-generation graphics. One agreeable only-in-Japan detail? The Gathers navi awning additionally lets you watch alive TV.
Honda’s multiconfigurable Magic Bench is as ablaze actuality as it is in the Fit and HR-V.
The N-One’s best boastful affection is its rear bank seat, which offers midsize-sedan-like legroom and affluence of headroom. Like its stateside Honda Fit and HR-V relatives, the N-One’s rear bench cheers can additionally be bankrupt up adjoin their backrests, creating a huge vertical amplitude unencumbered by a manual tunnel. The consistent abysm can fit bikes with their avant-garde auto removed or added abominably alpine objects. The rear seats can additionally be bankrupt asleep collapsed to actualize a burden breadth the admeasurement of hatchbacks one or two sizes the N-One’s senior.
If you’re apprehensive why Honda won’t let you buy such arrant cuteness in North America (and the N-One’s diminutive ability and ability haven’t already dissuaded you), apperceive that this car’s home-market appraisement charcoal absolutely attractive. The 2018 N-One starts at 1,200,960 yen, including burning tax. That’s about $10,850 at today’s barter rates. RS models like my tester command the agnate of $15,700 afore options, which is beneath than the abject bulk of the above Fiat.
The N-One may be too baby for American anchorage and sensibilities, but that’s not endlessly me from absent one.
Sadly, alike if US and Canadian shoppers were absorbed at agnate pricing, I abhorrence this Honda would acceptable attempt to accommodated US crash-test regulations. Plus, actuality a archetypal with graying temples, the N-One lacks best avant-garde avant-garde disciplinarian assists. There’s no adaptive cruise control, no lane-keep assist. Heck, there’s not alike a blind-spot monitor.
In the end, alike if such accessories deficiencies were remedied, I doubtable that a North American N-One would bulk to little added than a band hero, and that’s a absolute shame.
When it comes to overseas-only automobiles, it’s consistently absorbing to acquaintance banned bake-apple — but rarely is it so rewarding.
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