MPVs don't have to be big boring boxes. Honda's Skydeck concept car shows they can be sleek and stylish, too.
Officially, it's a show-car study for a compact and light six-seater offering flexible space. But reading between the lines, it shows the new design direction Honda will take and something similar could even make it into production.
Ready-made FR-V replacement
Given that Honda recently axed the FR-V its six-seater MPV the Skydeck would seem to be a ready-made basis for a replacement.
Shinya Uchiyama, who designed it, said: 'The scissor (front) doors are totally for the show, but as for the rest of the car if the market wants it'
The Skydeck has a flat, low floor to lower the centre of gravity, but a high central tunnel that could easily house the fuel stack and batteries Honda uses in its FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell car.
Uchiyama says it would be equally easy to package the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain from the Insight hatch in the car.
He describes it as a 'four-plus-two'.
The first and second rows of seats sprout from the central tunnel like leaves off a branch. 'It would not be impossible to have them in a production car,' says Uchiyama, 'but we must consider safety and durability.'
At the rear there is a two-seater bench.
At just over 4.6 metres long, Skydeck is slightly shorter than the Accord saloon, but it is taller and has a longer wheelbase. It is not based on any existing Honda platform.
The styling follows the 'clean, dynamic and glassy' look Honda plans to take in future.
Skydeck even managed to steal the thunder of the CR-Z, Honda's hybrid two-plus-two sports car that is on view in near production-ready form at the show. It will be on sale in the UK next summer.
CR-Z uses the same Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild hybrid drive system as the Insight which means it can never run on electric power alone.
But it will have a 1.5-litre petrol engine to run in tandem with the electric motor instead of the 1.3 in the Insight, and the first six-speed manual gearbox ever to be fitted to a hybrid.