By Steve & Tamami Laser
How popular is Honda’s N Series in Japan? In just 38 months, Honda has sold more than 1 million combined units of its five different N models. The N-BOX remains a showroom champion as the top-selling car in its class. Honda says its mini cars in the Kei-car class remain popular due to their efficient packaging of interior space using a centrally mounted fuel tank, available safety equipment, comfortable cabins, and new engines with CVTs.
Five distinct models are offered in the N Series including the N-BOX (above), N-BOX + (below), N-WGN, N-ONE that looks like a modern spin on Honda’s vintage N600 car, and the recently introduced N-BOX / (pronounced N-BOX SLASH).
Kei cars are remarkably small by American standards. Exterior dimensions are limited to 11.2 feet (3.4 m) in overall length, 4.9 feet (1.48 m) wide and a more generous 6.6 feet (2 m) high. Japanese automakers learned long ago that the way to maximize space inside the Kei car box is to raise the roof and use an upright seating position similar to a van or bus.
Engines in Kei cars, including the N-ONE shown above, can’t be larger than 660cc and passenger capacity is limited to four. Turbocharging is allowed and we’ve seen mini cars from Honda, Suzuki, Daihatsu and other brands zipping along the expressways in Japan.
Honda refreshed N-BOX and N-BOX + this year with a variety of updates including revised styling, available LED positioning and fog lights, sliding rear seats, super UV-cut glass, improved fuel efficiency and new exterior and interior colors.
N-BOX, Custom (above), Modulo-X, +, and + Custom trims are powered by 660cc DOHC normally aspirated or turbocharged engines with CVT and CVT “7-speed” paddle shift transmissions plus a choice of front or four-wheel drive. Prices for the base N-BOX G start at ¥1,270,000 (about $10,500) with VAT, topping out at ¥2,014,800 (about $16,700) for the N-BOX Modulo-X Turbo with two-tone paint and CVT-7.
In addition to its dramatic upswept beltline styling, the new N-BOX SLASH has swing-out rear side doors like N-WGN while the door handles are hidden near the roof to give it “coupe-like” styling.
The real humdinger that separates N-BOX SLASH from the pack is the choice of styling themes: “Street Rod,” “Bright Rod,” “California Diner” (above – our favorite), “Hawaii Glide,” and “Tennessee Session.”
Despite their popularity in Japan, there’s little chance that we’ll ever see Honda’s N Series in the U.S. While they could be modified to meet U.S. crash-test and emissions standards, mini cars are not popular enough to justify the investment. We also wonder if a larger engine could fit under the hood? And yet we never stop dreaming about cruising the streets of our neighborhood in Honda’s N-BOX.
News source and photos from Honda Motor Co. Ltd. Prices, features and specifications for models sold in Japan and are subject to change without notice.
Story ©2015 CarNichiWa.com