The Honda e:N2 Concept Channels All The Weirdness Recently Suppressed In Honda’s Design Studios

Honda En2 Topshot

While the Honda e electric city car has been on sale for a few years, we’re only just now seeing the start of Honda’s mass-market EV push. China has the fairly sensible e:NS1 and e:NP1 electric subcompact crossover twins, while America’s getting the Prologue, a midsize crossover on GM’s BEV3 platform. They’re slightly frantic efforts, but are fairly conventional by EV standards. However, Honda now has something called the e:N2 Concept, and it’s about as far from the Prologue as you can get while retaining reasonable practicality.

First, a bit of disclosure. Honda’s only released one official press picture of the e:N2 and a few computer-generated videos, so to view good photos of the real car, you’ll want to hop on over to an outlet like Vietnam’s Việt Giải Trí. With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about styling of this machine, which rides on a platform called the e:N Architecture F (which Honda claims prioritizes vehicle stability and crisp handling, and should underpin future e:N models).

The e:N2 Concept looks less like a conventional crossover or sedan and more like a cyberpunk ADO16. Its three-box silhouette is very heavily weighted on the second box, with barely a trunk lid at all, while very strong shoulder line and finned tail lights amp up the retro. At the same time, the wheels, plastic arch cladding, and modern, slim lighting clusters say modern crossover. Add it all up, and you get a car that’s simultaneously edgy and quaint, like an Infant Annihilator-themed commemorative plate, or a thatched cottage with a dungeon.

Honda En2 Front On
Screenshot: Honda

Undoubtedly adding to the edginess is Honda’s peculiar decision to showcase the e:N2 Concept in black. Apart from the Hyundai Prophecy, the Maybach Exelero, and the Buick Y-Job, not many concept cars are painted gloss black because it hides every line on the car. Why would a manufacturer want to hide what a concept car looks like? It looks cool, for one, but maybe this this strange silhouette will make production with some tweaks, so it makes some sense for Honda to paint it black to obfuscate a few features.

Honda e:n2 Architecture
Screenshot: Honda

On the inside, things get even stranger. The steering wheel is like an ultra-minimalist version of the eighth-generation Civic’s wheel, except someone sat on it to make it rectangular. There’s also no traditional gauge cluster or infotainment screen to speak of, although that doesn’t mean this cabin has fewer features than a cinderblock. The dashboard’s center panel lights up to be a touch-sensitive control panel under a semi-translucent cover, a weird compromise between no screens and too many screens that seems likely to make everyone unhappy. Don’t count on it being in any possible production version.

Interior
Screenshot: Honda

While such a dose of weirdness is fairly unexpected for Honda, it’s not like we weren’t given any warning. After all, this is the company that made the tiny S660 sports car and crammed the previous-generation Civic so full of faux vents that it looked like it crashed into an Autozone. With mainstream models like the new Civic and Pilot adopting more conservative sheetmetal, it was only a matter of time before the weird started leaking out of the design studio.

Honda e:n2 Rear
Screenshot: Honda

Given how the e:N brand is destined only for the Chinese market, don’t expect to see the e:N2 Concept make its way stateside anytime soon. However, If you happen to find yourself in Shanghai this week, you can catch the e:N2 Concept at the China International Import Expo that runs through Nov. 10.

Lead photo credit: Honda

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19 Responses

  1. I am fine with weird, but I am less fond of ugly. I think this car falls into the later, especially the wheels, the pointy corners, and the steering rectangle. We only get one view of the interior, so there isn’t much to go on other than Honda seems to have moved away from providing the driver with any information, which seems like an odd choice. I am not opposed to screens providing me with speed, gas/range info, etc., but I do vastly prefer actual buttons to touch screens.

    If they make this, it will not be on my shopping list, but I am sure there are others out there who will love it.

  2. It’s fascinating how Honda has really leant into market-specific styling/positioning despite being a smaller carmaker – the moment I saw the angular design I thought of China.

    In China they’re really going for the luxury/aspirational image, while the Pilot in the other article is a prime example of their ‘big and friendly’ American style, while the new Fit, e, and the N microcars show how in Japan and Europe they’re going for ‘cute and quirky’.

    I’m sure the corporate types at Honda HQ have calculated that this is the most profitable approach, but the enthusiast part of me does wish they’d bring more of their Japanese lineup to the rest of the world.

  3. All I can see is the lighted plexiglass ‘lines’: completely distracted away from the shape of the vehicle. This, imo, is crappy presentation. It would have been great in a 10th grade science fair entry 10 years ago, but it’s not how to present a concept car in 2022. Then again, I’m not often accused of having a sense of fashion or style

  4. Egads, that wheel! Where do your hands even go? How do you turn it without knocking yourself in the knee?

    Does anyone still look at a car with a weird ass steering wheel and think, wow that looks cool?

    For the rest of it, a resounding “meh.”

    1. not necessarily…a lot of consumers are used to FWD and it would be dumb to put them in a super-quick RWD EV without any prior experience. Renault’s new all-EV Megane is also FWD. It’s not unheard of.

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