It’s been nearly three weeks since Honda told us it would be premiering a small sports electric concept car at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. True to its promise, Honda has just unveiled what it calls the EV-STER electric sports concept on the show’s first press day. 

With an unmistakably Honda front grille and rear quarter panels reminiscent of the euro-specification 2012 Honda Civic hatchback, the EV-STER measures just under 12 feet in length, 5 feet wide, and 3.5 feet high. 

In true concept car style, the EV-STER features fully performance settings, allowing the driver to power curve, motor output and suspension to their tastes to give the best possible driving experience. 

But while we quite like the EV-STER’s angular design features and drop-top beauty, we’re not so keen on its futuristic steering controls. Looking more like an airplane yoke than a steering wheel, Honda says the twin-lever steering is meant to enable “thorough pursuit of the joy of driving.”  

We prefer our steering wheels to be round. 

With a top speed of just 100 miles per hour, the EV-STER takes 5 seconds to reach 37 miles per hour, meaning it would struggle to win a stop-light dash with some of the other sporty electric concepts we’ve seen this year.

In its defense however, the EV-STER is a rear-wheel drive car, following the lightweight rear-wheel sports car formula that Honda perfected with the much-missed S2000. As a consequence, the EV-STER should drive beautifully -- but we just wish it was a little quicker.

When you examine range, the EV-STER has a claimed 100 miles of range in the JC08 Japanese test cycle from a tiny 10 kilowatt-hour battery pack. That might sound good, but we think the EPA might rate the Honda EV-STER concept with a much smaller range. 

Why? The same Japanese JC08 test cycle used to reach the EV-STER’s 100 mile range rated the 2012 Nissan Leaf with a 124 mile range. The EPA rates the same Leaf at just 73 miles. Point made. 

What do we think of the EV-STER?  It’s a good-looking concept car, with the usual carbon-composite construction and electronic gadgetry we’ve come to expect of any concept car, including in-car Internet networking and extensive telematics. But while it may have the looks of a fast, slick sports drop head, the EV-STER is let down by mediocre performance.

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