Honda Small Car Concept Debut: Not Bad At All

When Honda released a statement late last year about wanting in on the small cheap car parade, I was afraid… Wait? Afraid? No! I’m PETRIFIED.

When Tata unveils the Nano at its expected price of US$2500, the car was damn awful. 660cc simplistic engine, fixed hatch, engine in the cabin, the non existence of brake booster, no AC, no everything! Money doesn’t lie, you pay for a peanut, you get a peanut. Honda even declared that they are not getting into the small cheap car parade. But late last year, they did the unthinkable and announced Honda is getting into the parade after all, following Toyota and Ford. I thought that Honda has lost it mentally… But it seems that I have to take it all back as Honda foray in the small cheap car parade are anything but cheap…

A compact compact

Dubbed the Small Concept Vehicle, as reported by, the car will be ready for emerging market in 2011. The car will be available initially in India and Thailand first, but I suspect it will be available for the rest of ASEAN as well, especially Indonesia & Malaysia.

The car take heavy design cue from CR-Z, CR-V, and Freed. The A pillar is definitely CR-Z, with the distinct bonnet over the pillar. The side profile is taken straight from CR-V coupe like silhouette. The rear hatch and the side crease is taken from the Freed, which makes the car looks like a short Freed from the quarter rear view.

Coupe like design, but it’s a four door

Not much is given technically, but the car is going to be powered with an extensive line of engines, topping at 1.2L. Obviously Honda has the 660cc option from its Keii car line, and the 1.3L engine from the new L series. But what about the 1.2L?

What gives me a sigh of relief is that the car is priced around 500k Rupee or about US$10K. Compare that to Tata Nano base price of US$2500, and you’ll understand why Honda still kept its promise not going in with the small and cheap parade. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud Tata intention of making the Nano accessible to every layer of society, a car for every family. However, making it cheap enough by leaving out safety is a big no no. Leaving out the brake booster? Come on… This is not a bike, this is a car. Braking a 3 KG bike is different than braking a 500 KG car. Okay, I didn’t know the Nano weight, but even if the car only weighs 200 KG, it’s still a hundred times heavier than a bike.

The rear door handle is flushed with the body panel

At around US$10K, Honda Small Concept will definitely include better safety equipment than the Nano. Given that in Indonesia the Fit/Jazz comes in at US$19K, the new Small Concept will fit right in below it. After tax and miscellaneous, the Small Concept could be priced at US$12-14K in Indonesia, and that’s still considered cheap.

This car and a Freed would make a killer combo of small runabout for the office and compact hauler for the family.


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