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Retro-Look Honda Urban EV City Car Concept Unveiled

Honda brings a very welcome addition to the retro party.

Retro automotive design has been red-hot ever since the Volkswagen New Beetle came on the scene in the late 1990s. It was followed by cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the Chevy SSR, and the Dodge Challenger, as seemingly every car brand tried to cash in on its design heritage. But one brand that mostly refrained from the gimmick was Honda…until now. 

At the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, Honda unveiled the Urban EV concept it teased a coupe weeks ago by showing us a screen with a Honda logo on it. As it turns out, it appears that the screen we saw is actually the “grille” of the car, which can display messages and the charging status.

As its name suggests, the Honda Urban EV is an all-electric city car. Aesthetically, the Urban EV concept is a throwback to the old Civic and N600 hatchbacks that originally made Honda a hit in the U.S. The car’s design is simple, sophisticated, and retro in all the right ways. It’s also quite small, being roughly four inches shorter than the Fit. It has rear-hinged “coach doors,” and the charging port is right on top of the hood.

The inside of the Honda Urban EV is as much fun as the outside. It’s a four-seater with two bench seats. The star of the interior show is the wood-finished “floating” dash with a panoramic display screen stretching almost the whole width of the car. There are also wrap-around screens in the door panels which act as mirrors through digital displays in lieu of exterior side mirrors.


The most exciting part of this concept? Honda is determined to make it a real car in the next two years. “This is not some vision of the distant future,” said Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo when presenting the car in Frankfurt. “A production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019.”

We can expect a lot of changes from the Urban EV concept to the future production model, but this is a damn good start. If the real thing is anything like this concept, our hopes are high that Honda will eventually bring it Stateside. This might be the most excited we’ve ever been about a Honda compact without a “Type R” badge on it.