Exclusive Pictures: Honda Launches (Well ...) Plus-Sized NBOX+ Into Burgeoning Kei Car Market

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
exclusive pictures honda launches well plus sized nbox into burgeoning kei

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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  • Juicy sushi Juicy sushi on Jul 06, 2012

    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.

  • Toad Toad on Jul 06, 2012

    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.

  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.
  • ToolGuy This truck is the perfect size, and the fuel economy is very impressive.-This post sponsored by ExxonMobil
  • ToolGuy If I were Jeep, I would offer a version with better NVH and charge more for it.And then I would offer a version with worse NVH, and charge more for it. (There is an audience for both.)
  • Szi65724742 Not saying dude's not a douche, but Google Maps doesn't show a stop sign at any of the three Walmarts dumping onto 60 - there's a stop-line at best. And while you nerd-rage at a random dude in a truck, a similar thing happens ALL. THE. TIME here - get Prius'd and Tesla'd every single day. I got hit while stopped at a stoplight. 7:30am, sunny morning, clear, straight sightlines for a couple miles. Was a loaded down work van. I don't rage and yell to get those off the streets. Blame the drivers, not the vehicles.