Honda turned up at the Japanese industry’s biennial “Home Game” with a hard-to-beat team of serious contenders: three concept cars ready to take on anything their national and international rivals could come up with. Their message could hardly be clearer: the research sector is in ferment and no niche market is being ignored.

In the extreme sports car segment, there’s Honda’s HSC concept car: compact, well coordinated and bringing with it the promise of an entertaining ride in total safety that makes it look like a dead cert for production as the firm’s next NSX.

Less “realistic” in appearance, but even so incorporating quite a few good ideas, the Imas prototype, on which the search for aerodynamic efficiency and minimum weight has produced attractive lines and some intriguing features.

On this prototype, which previews the next generation of Honda’s Insight hybrid, the designers have drawn their inspiration from the bicycle and it offers the same sensation of pure speed and the same pared down structure on several of its interior accoutrements.

And now for something completely different: an idea for a luxury saloon built around fuel cell technology. The Kiwami is a concept car that explores the saloon segment aided by cutting-edge experience in alternative propulsion systems, not to mention that innate Japanese ability to pack an incredible number of elements into the smallest of areas. Its ground-hugging package, in fact, is the biggest surprise about the Kiwami project. Instead of building the interior on top of the fuel cell thereby producing a significantly higher floorpan, the Honda engineers have slotted the fuel cell assembly inside the interior’s central tunnel and made it a decorative design feature.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 144

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