If you subscribe to the theory that Honda keeps all its really cool products in its home market of Japan, the announcement that the N-ONE retro-styled minicar has hit the market probably won’t do much to convince you otherwise.

The N-ONE joins the N BOX and N BOX + models in Honda’s current minicar lineup. Designed with the principle of “M/M” (for man maximum, machine minimum) in mind, the N-ONE features a funky vintage design inspired by the N360 (which ultimately made it here in more powerful N600 form).

The idea is to fit as much interior space as possible into a diminutive package, while delivering reasonable performance and impressive fuel economy.

Honda claims the N-ONE will return 27.0 km/liter in Japanese market testing, or roughly the equivalent of 63.5 mpg by our standards.

The secret, of course, is to use an engine that most Americans would deem “too small.” In base form, the N-ONE gets a 660cc three-cylinder engine, that will likely be capped at the kei car limit of 63 horsepower (though, oddly, Honda doesn’t specify output).

For those wanting more thrust, the 0.66-liter triple is also available in turbocharged form, but again the specific output remains unclear.

Honda will offer the N-ONE in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants, as well as a plethora of trim levels, ensuring that the minicar will be a hit with Japanese consumers.

There’s no shortage of safety features or available accessory items, and we can’t help but wonder if the time is right for such a vehicle in the United States. Fiat is enjoying brisk sales of its 500 hatchback here, and the N-ONE is meant to counter that very car in Japan.

Honda sold enough N600s in the United States that there could be a demand for the N-ONE here, too. It may not be a great fit for suburbia, but we see the N-ONE as a a city car with plenty of potential. Bring it, we say, and the buyers will come.


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