Remember when Honda used to make fun little cars before the advent of fancy electronic driving aids and sophisticated fuel-saving technologies? Honda Cars Philippines used the then-basic Civic Hatchback in the early ’90s to establish a foothold in the local market, and car enthusiasts swiftly fell in love with the brand. And then, of course, Honda became environment-conscious and sales-oriented, so its fun spirit had to take a back seat to such selling points as fuel efficiency and value for money. Before long, other Japanese brands like Subaru and Mazda supplanted Honda as purveyors of dynamic cars that begged to be tuned and raced.
I liked the idea of the Brio mini hatchback when Honda launched it here in 2014. Honda brilliantly shoehorned the second-generation Jazz’s 1.3-liter i-VTEC gasoline engine into a much smaller (and lighter) hatchback. I absolutely adored the car when I drove it for the first time. It felt like a go-kart. Alas, pricing and a love-it-or-hate-it exterior design prevented the Brio from being the bestseller an excellent Honda-badged tiny car should be.
Enter the Small RS Concept (yes, that’s the official name) which Honda has presented at the ongoing Indonesia International Motor Show.
For now, this car looks like a mere exercise in showing off a mini-hatchback design courtesy of Honda R&D Asia Pacific. No technical information has been provided, other than the automaker saying:
The concept car features sporty exterior design, expressing Honda sporty DNA. The Small RS Concept is built on small-car platform, for everyday life usage of young-at-heart customers, and still offers sporty driving feeling at the same time.
Spoken like a classic Japanese car manufacturer that intends to please its buyers.
A Honda executive adds that this little hatchback is “the implementation of our endless innovation, emphasizing Honda’s sporty spirit, especially in small-car lineups. This is our vision of what a small, sporty car should be.”
Give the Small RS Concept a peppy and tunable 1.5-liter (or even 1.3-liter) petrol engine—then price it competitively—and Honda has a sure winner that will punch above its weight.
And then all the fanboys will come running back. Just like the good old days.