Honda continues to perplex. At a slick yet relatively understated press conference in Beijing today it unveiled two new concepts. ‘C’ is a relatively conventional, D-segment sedan. S, a low-slung, mono-volume MPV. Both impress in parts, yet the inconsistency just about sums up Honda as a brand at present. The C felt more like an Acura than a Honda. Perhaps it will one day see the light of day wearing an Acura A? For now however, this is a D-segment Honda sedan, designed specifically for the Chinese market we are told.
Judging from what we can see the effect of this Chinese market focus is much greater surface augmentation and fussy detailing than we’re used to. That’s perhaps un-surprising given what many believe is Chinese taste; the DRG in particular is very busy and bold. It features a continuous graphic with a large, full-width chrome band that thickens in its centre to frame an enlarged Honda ‘H’. Below that is the most eye-catching element of the DRG, a deep, matte-plastic section punctuated by inflection marks at its outer edge.
Given Honda’s history of producting enviably compact powertrains – which give its designers great advantages with how they can package things – it’s surprising how much bulk there is around the front end. It’s a shame that due to an apparent desire to present an imposing front end for this market, Honda has tossed aside one of its core – if subtle – design signatures.
In contrast, the Concept S, revealed at the same time, shows a very low and compact nose. The DRG on this car is much more successful and less busy than the C, it’s also lower, which given it is an MPV is impressive.
However, seeing the cars alongside each other highlights Honda’s complete lack of consistency when approaching facial design and appearance.
The hood sweeps up into a mono-volume form, the cowl point very far forward. This sets up an exceptionally fast windscreen rake. However, at the intersection of fender, DLO and A-pillar it has caused all sorts of problems because the upper fender surface and DLO appear to be collapsing in on themselves. Like many Honda MPVs, there’s precious little tumblehome; but unfortunately this gives the S a degree of ungainliness. Perhaps it permits a voluminous, impressive interior space. But we don’t know, because no interior is being shown.
Otherwise there are some interesting aspects to this concept – the dipping DLO graphic, low overall height, areas of negative/positive sculpture and lack of depth to the shoulder, allowing emphasis of the corners of the car with flared arches.
Overall, it’s pleasing to see two new concepts from Honda and the firm’s desire to ramp up its Chinese market present. However, we continue to bemoan the lack of consistency applied to the DRG graphic and the fact that, as a company, there is a complete lack of balance between the Honda brand and its supposedly more premium Acura sister. It’s a shame too that neither of these cars had interior designs that were being shown – although in fairness to Honda, that’s a growing theme of this show and of recent concepts more generally.
Posted by Joe Simpson