By on July 6, 2012

Honda lifted the embargo on its updated NBOX+, a sister-model of its bestselling NBOX minivehicle that passed our feared “from the backseat” test drive with flying colors.
While the regulation NBOX supplies space for my knees and excited moonlighting driver Martin, the new NBOX+ delivers amazing versatility. It can double as a cargo hauler, a recreational vehicle, even as a double bed.

Limited by Japanese law to its small size of 11.2 by 4.9 ft, Honda rearranged the inside of its most successful kei. The tank was moved to the center, making space for a sloped floor and an attachable aluminum ramp.

Three different sized boards can convert the inside to fit a multitude of uses.

Fold the rear hatch up, drape a few yards of cloth over it, and voila, a tent.

Add a thin futon, and the NBOX+ becomes a double bed on wheels.

Members of the Japanese media immediately put this feature to the test. It put them to sleep.

The dean of the foreign automotive media in Japan, Hans Greimel of Automotive News, also tested the double bed. Despite his American-sized frame, Hans approved.

If you want even more exciting rides: Put a cross bike in the back and head for the hills.

Prices for the NBOX+ start at 1,350,000 yen ($17,000).

Sales of minivehicles had been in a downtrend after a peak in 2006. This year, kei cars turned the corner sharply in Japan. Nearly 1.2 million keis were sold in Japan in the first half of 2012, for a market share of 37 percent. Carmakers project sales of 2 million for the whole year, The Nikkei [sub] says.

Stay tuned for a “from the back bed” test drive when I am back in Japan. Driver Martin can watch.

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8 Comments on “Exclusive Pictures: Honda Launches (Well …) Plus-Sized NBOX+ Into Burgeoning Kei Car Market...”

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    So it’s the same size, yet bigger?

    Seriously, that is excellent use of available space – and I’m getting a big kick out of that wood grain decal and surrounding trim.

  • avatar

    It would make an excellent sequel to the Element, considering who most Elements were bought by and for what use.

    Personally, I’d prefer the Freed, but that’s because I have a sliding-door fetish and small children.

  • avatar

    It’s like a Scion xB/Toyota bB but taller, narrower, and with 60% of the hopelessly inadequate engine power. But that interior probably makes up for it, comfy for sitting in hours of traffic.

  • avatar

    Moving the tank to the center also increases the practical crashworthiness, although I don’t know if IIHS or government test for that. The car looks amazing, although obviously it is not friendly to sporty driving.

    • 0 avatar

      The Fit uses the same tank placement (I own one, and you can hear the sloshing under your seat on occasion). It really is smart packaging.

      • 0 avatar

        The center tank on the Fit and the NBox is one of those “d’oh” engineering solutions that I’m surprised other makers don’t emulate. The huge benefits in rear seat and trunk space are mind-boggling. The rest of the field is catching up with the Fit in terms of outright space, but nobody else can yet match the flexibility of ULT.

        I wish to heck we were a RHD market… so many good, cheap and clever Keis never make it here because of our LHD orientation.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    If they designed the next Fit this way, and gave it those looks, but kept the fun handling, it would be the perfect car for me. As it stands, I will just have to lust from afar and hope that foreign posting competition delivers the goods.

  • avatar

    This would make a great second car, especially for urban drivers. Great for hauling kids, groceries, and stuff. Mail, parcel, and courier services could use them too. I wonder what the incremental cost to Honda would be for designing left-hand steering and meeting USDOT regulations would be?

    We keep reading that younger Americans are not that interested in cars; would adding vehicles like this to the product mix boost sales? Seems like a lot of vehicle for $17k.

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