By Steve & Tamami Laser with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
Hot on the heels of introducing the new StepWGN, S660 roadster, Jade, Grace and N-BOX Slash comes Honda’s next generation Shuttle. Making its debut today during a press conference in Japan, the Shuttle, based on the Honda Fit, is more spacious and sophisticated compared to the previous generation.
Honda says the new Shuttle “fuses together a number of features and values including ease of use unique to a vehicle in the category, with excellent fuel economy, a stylish form that has a strong presence, a flat luggage space with class-topping capacity and high-quality driving performance.”
For those who are not familiar with the Shuttle, it springs from Honda’s “compact” car family that includes the Fit, Vezel (called HR-V in the U.S. and other markets) and Grace (a sedan that may eventually come to the U.S. to “fit” below the Civic).
While remaining a compact wagon in exterior size, the new Shuttle features more original styling that Honda says embodies new values and maximizes its functions. The styling combines a flowing roofline and dynamic lower body. The design is instantly recognizable as a Honda whether viewed from the front, sides or rear.
Honda’s advanced design identity, dubbed “Solid Wing Face,” emphasizes a wide and stable look while creating a more dynamic and sharp impression with the front grille and headlights integrated as an uninterrupted flow.
The Shuttle is equipped with newly developed inline-type LED headlights that feature a structure to reflect the LED light source. This design lets the entire headlight light up as if it is one surface. The combination of the headlights and line-shaped position lamps further emphasizes the flow from the grille to the headlights.
The gasoline-powered Shuttle is equipped with a 1.5-liter direct-injection DOHC i-VTEC engine, while the hybrid version features the SPORT HYBRID i-DCD. Honda says that for the first time in a wagon in this size class, the new Shuttle offers an all-wheel-drive option. The system features a lightweight and compact viscous coupling unit plus excellent fuel economy unique to a hybrid vehicle, according to Honda.
The SPORT HYBRID i-DCD combines a 1.5L Atkinson cycle DOHC i-VTEC engine, a 7-speed DCT system with a built-in high-output motor and the IPU (intelligent power unit) that unifies a lithium-ion battery and power drive unit. The hybrid version is designed to deliver top fuel economy of 34.0km/liter (JC08 mode).
Honda also says the steering and suspension systems were designed exclusively for this model to realize sporty and stable driving as well as comfort for long drives. The Shuttle HYBRID X and HYBRID Z are equipped with front and rear amplitude reactive dampers that contribute to ride comfort and driving stability.
A crystal black panel that spreads as if it “envelops the driver” is located in the center of the dashboard featuring a large soft-touch pad. Honda says that its high-definition visual and tactile qualities create a relaxing cabin space for all occupants.
A high-deck center console creates a personal space for both the driver and front passenger. This console excels in occupant comfort and user-friendliness by offering an armrest as big as that of a high-end sedan, drink holders, a tray, front console pockets, which are placed in easy-to-reach spots for both driver and front passenger, and large-sized console box where tablets can be stored.
For the seat surface material, an ultrafine fiber is used to create a high-density fabric construction that’s said to provide a tactile impression smoother and softer than suede. This seat material has a new visual and tactile quality that “makes people want to touch it.”
The all-new Shuttle has a class-topping luggage capacity of 570 liters while carrying five passengers. When the rear seats are folded down the length and capacity of the luggage space can be expanded as far as 184cm and 1,141 liters. A flat floor and large tailgate opening with low lift-over are designed to make loading and unloading of luggage easier.
Shuttle HYBRID X and HYBRID Z feature two multi-use baskets on the backside of the rear seatbacks. The baskets can be used independently and are easily accessible from the rear seats. When not in use, these baskets can be folded flat. A storage box under the load floor is made of a stain-resistant plastic material providing occupants a place to store dirty items like muddy shoes.
Honda’s sales target for the new Shuttle in Japan in 3,000 units per month. Prices range from ¥1,990,000 (about $17,000) for the base model to ¥2,542,000 (about $22,000) for the Hybrid Z with all-wheel drive.
Product information applies to models sold in Japan. Features, specifications and prices are subject to change without notice.
News source and photos courtesy of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Story (commentary) © 2015 CarNichiWa.com