Home » Sony Honda Mobility’s Afeela Prototype Is A Delightfully Minimalist Posh Electric Sedan

Sony Honda Mobility’s Afeela Prototype Is A Delightfully Minimalist Posh Electric Sedan

Sony Honda Mobility Afeela Topshot

When Sony and Honda said they were teaming up to make cars, I felt cautiously optimistic. Sony had a fabulous set of Vision-S concept cars and Honda’s enjoying a bit of a renaissance lately, so Sony Honda Mobility seemed promising. On the other hand, partnerships can also result in the worst traits of both companies manifesting as unfortunate vehicles, so there was still a possibility of this all going terribly wrong.

So what does an EV from the people who brought you the Walkman and VTEC actually look like? From the looks of the Sony Honda Mobility Afeela, the firms definitely haven’t cocked it up.

sony honda mobility Afeela Rear 34

This prototype is from Afeela, the proper brand name given to the Sony Honda Mobility joint venture. It was unveiled tonight at CES 2023, and while I have… thoughts about the name, the design itself means this team-up is off to a good start.

Off the bat, Afeela (just Afeela? The Afeela? Unclear) looks great. Sony Honda Mobility grabbed a cup of Porsche 911 and an ounce of Lucid Air, put them in a shaker with ice and served up this delightful sedan. In an age where almost every car has enough styling for three or four cars, the Afeela is a minimalist sight for sore eyes, with gorgeous cab-rearward proportions and a fabulously low roofline. From the clamshell hood to the heckblende tail lights, this is just a clean piece of design.

Sony Honda Mobility Afeela Hmi Controller

When you have an actual technology company designing cars, it shouldn’t be surprising that a touchscreen isn’t the only way to interact with the infotainment system. Perched atop the center console sits a delightful rotary knob with hard buttons for key functions like muting audio and navigating to the home screen.

Mind you, the climate control panel is capacitive-touch, but at least the heated seats aren’t buried in the damn infotainment and the glovebox features a conventional release. Overall, it seems like Sony gets this infotainment thing a lot better than many car manufacturers.

Sony Honda Mobility Afeela Interior

Mind you, one thing Sony Honda Mobility hasn’t nailed is the steering wheel. See, wheels are supposed to be round, and this one is U-shaped. The Tesla yoke is stupid, the Lexus yoke is stupid, and this yoke is also stupid. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel, you’ll only run yourself over in the process.

Afeela 1

However, the Afeela packs a full suite of driver nannies to prevent said running-over from ever happening. This thing has 45 cameras and sensors on it including LIDAR, with the very reasonable aim of Level 3 autonomy, even if it sounds like the joint venture isn’t entirely sure what Level 3 autonomy entails. Fingers crossed someone realizes what Level 3 autonomy entails soon.

Afeela 2

Styling, infotainment, and safety are all well and good, but what about the greasy specifications that really matter to car enthusiasts? Well, limited information on this prototype has been released, but what’s out there might make you Afeela happy.

I’m talking double-wishbone suspension up front, a multi-link setup in the back, staggered 245/40R21 front tires and 275/35R21 rear tires, and all-wheel-drive. Proper performance chops that suggest some level of zest.

As for the Afeela’s size, overall length clocks in at 192.7 inches (4,895 mm), wheelbase at 118.1 inches (3,000 mm), width at 74.8 inches (1,900 mm), and height at 57.5 inches (1,460 mm). That’s all within spitting distance of a BMW 5 Series, which surely helps give the Afeela presence.

Afeela 3

While the Afeela we see today is only a prototype, Sony Honda Mobility said in a press release that a production model based on this prototype will go on sale in America in late 2025, with deliveries to start in early 2026. It will be produced in North America, too, likely in Ohio where Honda already has a huge presence.

If the finished car looks like this with a set of license plates, it should be an extremely compelling alternative to the Mercedes-Benz EQE, even if the name’s a bit off-putting.

(Photo credits: Patrick George, Sony Honda Mobility)

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40 Responses

  1. As some character inevitably says in one the Star Wars movies (slightly paraphrased)….

    “I’ve got a bad AFEELA about this.”

    True story….when Phantom Menace came out, I went with some friends. I had commented before the movie that at some point in all of the original trilogy, someone at some point says “ I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” There were some chuckles.

    The movie starts and that was the first fucking line of dialog. George Lucas lost me right there. And then he changed the original trilogy.

    I can’t watch Star Wars anymore.

    Thanks George.

      1. It’s a surprisingly practical shape! So much room for activities up front! A surprisingly spacious cabin for a little car! The Nasenbär is great.

        The only real issue is, with the engine way out back and an unloaded trunk, the nose can poke into the air and look a bit silly. However, with an EV skateboard design where the batteries sit under the cabin, shoot, that solves the upward snoot problem. Heck, you might even get a trunk with an electric 411. A trunk!

  2. Initial thoughts- is this the dullest shape EVER?
    Maybe i’ll warm to it more later?I’m trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, but my first impressions usually aren’t far off.
    Somehow they’ve copied the boring porsche style yet made it more boring, then added a bucketful of awkwardness. It’s just soooooooo dull. The grey paint isn’t helping.
    Even the trim pieces manage to look old fashioned rather than modern. I cant shake the thought that it’s a dull nineties design with questionable trim pieces added to make it look ‘futuristic’ for a movie.
    Not trying to crap on them but i just can’t see much nice in the outer styling.Hopefully will look better in the flesh.
    The inside looks quite good.Throw that idiotic yoke though!

    1. I have to agree. It looks like the designers were onto something, but they ran out of time and had to build it before they were quite done. The idea is OK, I mean not exactly groundbreaking but fine. The execution is awkward, though. It’s only a concept, at any rate.

  3. Hmmm.
    – Clean uncluttered styling. Good, if you can resist the temptation to make it more ‘aggressive’ going into production or refresh.
    – Glass roof. Let’s get over this already. Bake in the summer/shatter in the winter. I’m also told the pillars have to be beefed up for roll over. I’d rather have horizontal visibility than stare at the sky.
    – Yoke. Maybe this is Big Yoke tying to make people stop dog pawing their steering wheels. Not that I endorse the dog paw (I don’t) but if these things drive themselves, what does it matter anyway?
    – 75″ wide. Screw you. I got nowhere to park this anyway….

  4. It’s Sony, the top part of the steering wheel is subscription-based.

    Sony Honda Mobility Afeela. They should’ve went with Sony Honda Inventive Transportation.

    1. Yes, but the service was shut down after 2 years due to unprofitability so everyone’s steering wheel has lost support and will be bricked on July 1st.

    1. at this point so few can do it on their own anyway, that likely is the one thing that should be autonomous….as long as if it fails the insurance guys can send the bill to Sony and not affect our insurance premium.

      1. “Lister to Red Dwarf. We have in our midst a complete smeg pot. Brains in the anal region. Chin absent, presumed missing. Genitalia small and inoffensive. Of no value or interest.”

  5. What a step backwards from the previous Vision concept. This may be the most anonymous sedan I’ve ever seen. Combine that with a name that no one knows, and this is going to fly so far under the radar that I can’t imagine I’ll ever see one in real life even if it does make it to production.

  6. Afeela great disturbance in the force…

    Aesthetically, the car may be minimalist/modernist, notably lacking the crumpled-paper aesthetic that’s haunted Japanese cars of the last decade.

    But technologically, it’s downright baroque. 45 cameras, LIDAR, autonomy, wraparound touchscreens, cameras for mirrors, no door handles… it’s ornamental overcomplication meant to inspire a sense of awe. It’s the absolute antithesis of minimalism.

    This ornamental tech gives us an idea of who this car is for and how much it will cost. And it’s not Honda’s typical customer base.

  7. Ewww… The vision S was the best designed sedan from the last 10/15 years, everything on the outside was good (from a design standpoint).
    This is just bland.

    1. Lots of cars have non-round wheels these days, its stupid and uncomfortable, but the buying public doesn’t care about that as much as they did in the 1970s.

  8. Maybe they’re finally going to variable ratio steering so that you don’t have to rotate the wheel.

    Because that’s the only way a yoke would make sense.

  9. First concepts usually include lots of crazy ideas and shapes that get boiled down during the engineering process into real cars. This one is pre-boiled which either shows a rare maturity or a lack of new ideas. By mixing a faded electronics giant with a faded automotive innovator, I’m betting on the latter.

  10. Was the any talk of who had responsibility for which parts, specifically the high voltage battery and drive units? Are these going to be based on GM’s Ultium architecture as a part of that arrangement with the… Precept was it?

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