The smallest vehicle you can order from Honda Cars Philippines Inc. today is the Brio. But over in Japan, they have models even smaller than the subcompact hatchback – kei cars.
Though small in size, they would be perfect for the streets of Metro Manila. Just take a look at one of Honda's newest Kei-cars, the N One, a retro-styled hatchback inspired by the original N360 sold in the late 60s.
For the 2021 model, Honda has left the design of the hatchback mostly as-is since its initial debut in 2012. It features big, round headlights to give it a distinct look over other Honda models in the current range. The boxy shape then makes the most of its diminutive dimensions. As with most facelifts, they fitted new front and rear bumpers and tweaked the grill to enhance its retro styling. Not all is old-school, though, as the headlights and taillights now get LED illumination.
The most significant Honda made to the N One can be found in between the driver and passenger seats. Since its introduction in 2012, the Kei hatchback has been exclusively available with a CVT only. Now, after eight years on the market, a 6-speed manual transmission option has been made available for this 2021 model.
Four trim levels are available for the 2021 N One – Original, Premium, Premium Tourer, and RS. The 6-speed gearbox is available exclusively in the RS. But regardless of variant, the N One is powered by a turbocharged 660cc 3-cylinder engine producing 64 horsepower and 104 Nm torque. The turbocharged mill is also available with a CVT on the Premium Tourer trim. All-wheel-drive is also an option.
Other updates for the 2021 N One include the addition of Honda Sensing driver assistance. However, Honda notes that some functions of the safety suite will not work with the manual transmission option.
We're quite jealous that Kei-cars like the Honda N One are not available outside of Japan. Not only are they cute and affordable, but their size would make it great for the tight streets of Metro Manila. For reference, the 2021 N One only measures 3,395mm long and 1,475mm wide, making it easy to drive down tight and narrow streets. With a sub-1.0-liter under the hood, it should be fuel-efficient even in gridlock traffic. Enthusiasts will undoubtedly enjoy the N One RS with a manual, too. Despite being small, its unique interior configuration means it has a spacious cabin.
Sadly, we can only wish for that to happen. Kei cars are exclusive to Japan, even though these would work great in other crowded cities worldwide.