Honda have launched the Freed compact minivan in Japan, which delivers seating for up to eight people in a package that uses just 6.1 litres of fuel per 100km.
Based on the same platform as the Honda Jazz, the Freed lays claim to being the first true 8-seater in the small car class. Of course, it's doubtful that six full-size Australian's would be able to comfortably fit in the back of the Freed (legroom looks far from generous) but that's no real problem for Honda, as for now the Freed remains a Japan-only model.
Still, it's a vehicle that us Australians could probably use. With the rapidly escalating price of fuel, it no longer makes sense for urban families to taxi their children around in thirsty SUVs. With the ability to seat 6 small people in the back, the Freed would make an excellent load-lugger for parents who live in or close to city centers, and with its 1.5-litre inline-four engine and CVT gearbox it would sip petrol, rather than chug it down. Not only that, but its relatively small size, one-box shape and 5.2m turning circle would make the Freed a cinch to park, which would no doubt be a boon in shopping centre carparks and retail strips. You don't have to cram 8 people in it either, with a seven seat version boasting comfy-looking second-row captains chairs and a five seat version offering an expansive (and flat) cargo area. All of them have dual rear sliding doors too, so there'll be no more door dings inflicted on adjacent cars by your pesky offspring.
It's not fast, it's not pretty, but it doesn't have to be. The Freed is practical, and the way in which it combines an admirably large cabin with low fuel consumption means the Freed gets my vote for being the ultimate urban transport. After all, what other small car could fit not one, but two fully-assembled bicycles without great difficulty?
Check out Honda's press release below for more information.
TOKYO, Japan, May 29, 2008– Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it will begin sales of a new compact minivan, named the Freed, in Japan on May 30, 2008. This new model fuses an easy-to-use and spacious cabin with stylish design. Special mobility assistive versions—Freed with side lift-up seat and Freed with passenger lift-up seat, also go on sale May 30, 2008—while a Freed wheelchair-accessible model will go on sale June 20, 2008.
Developed under the concept of “Freedom to create the perfect lifestyle,” the Freed features Honda’s original low-floor and low-center-of-gravity technology, to achieve a compact body size that makes it easy to maneuver through city streets as well as a spacious cabin that enables adults to sit comfortably in all three rows. Honda developed this vehicle with the goal of creating a minivan that is comfortable and easy-to-use for every passenger and that offers new value by enabling customers to fully and freely utilize this vehicle in activities that meet individual lifestyles ranging from daily transportation to leisure time trips.
Three different versions are offered: the first seven-passenger vehicle in its class*1 featuring captain’s seats in the second row; the first eight-passenger vehicle in its class*1; and a five-passenger type which offers a large, best-in-class*1 cargo space. Moreover, for the first time in a registration-class Honda vehicle, wheelchair-accessible models are offered in addition to versions with a side lift-up seat and passenger lift-up seat. With the addition of these mobility assistive models, Honda positions Freed as a vehicle which fulfills the diverse needs of a wide range of customers.
· A compact body with cabin space that allows adults to sit comfortably in all three rows
· A flat-floor, newly designed from the frame up, maximizes usable space from end to end
· The one-step low- and flat-floor and walk-through layout provideease of access for children and seniors
· Seven-, eight- and five-passenger seat configurations to respond to various lifestyle needs
· Spacious and well-lighted interior achieves liberated feeling with two-layer instrument panel design
· Large cargo space accommodate shopping and leisure activities
· Three mobility assistive versions share the freedom and fun of mobility
· Dynamic and stylish form creates eye-catching urban look
· Compact, easy-to-maneuver body and excellent field of vision provide driver with confidence
· Powerful and smooth performance together with economical high fuel efficiency
With the goal of making multi-passenger traveling more comfortable and to enhance the joy of driving, Honda has been adopting its low-floor and low-center-of-gravity technology as the foundation of its minivan technologies. With the addition of the Freed, Honda is further enhancing its low-floor, low-center-of-gravity minivan lineup.
Note: The vehicle name “Freed” was coined from the word “freedom”. The name implies “a vehicle Honda pursued with completely unrestricted thinking unbound by conventional thinking or standard practices” as well as the combined meaning of “free” and “do” (to take action).
Key Features of the Freed
· A spacious interior and three rows of seats provide comfortable seating for up to eight adults.
· Compact dimensions: 4,215 mm L × 1,695 mm W × 1,715 mm H (FF vehicles) or 1,720 mm H for vehicles equipped with the Skyroof.
· Compact fuel tank and ingenious under-floor structure result in a low, flat floor.
· Unique hip-point layout that rises from front to back provides passengers a sense of spaciousness.
· Seven-passenger variation features captain’s seats in the second row and a walk-through layout that allows passengers to access any row from any door without having to operate a seat adjuster.
· One-step, low, flat floor layout with second-row floor height of 390 mm*2(standard on FF vehicles) provides easy access for children and seniors.
· Sliding rear doors on either side of the vehicle achieve a large (600 mm*2) door opening for easy ingress and egress even in cramped spaces. Also available with each variation are power sliding doors that open and close easily for added convenience.
· Owing to its 2,740 mm wheelbase and compact mechanical devices, the Freed has ample interior space while offering a minimum turning radius of only 5.2 meters.
· The Freed comes in seven-, eight- and five-passenger configurations.
Seven-passenger: Captain’s seats in the second row ensure that your passengers are treated to same comfort they’d have if they were in the front. The walk-through layout allows passengers to access any row from any door without having to operate a seat adjuster.
Eight-passenger: A 60:40-split tumble seat in the second row creates a bench seat that comfortably seats three adults and makes the Freed the only minivan in the 1.5-liter class to offer eight-passenger capacity.
Five-passenger: Seating for five passengers in two rows with ample cargo space, thanks to its low- and flat-floor layout.
· The third row features 50:50-split seats that can be easily flipped up to make room for extra cargo.
· The Freed has enough space to easily stow a 27-inch bicycle*3 without removing tires or handlebars.
· An easily wipeable plastic mat that won’t attract pet hair or other debris is also available.
· Layered-design instrument panel highlights bright and spacious interior styling.
· Meter placement above the steering wheel enhances visibility and minimizes eye movement.
· The Freed features relaxing and comfortable seats not usually found in compact-class vehicles.
· Tilt and telescope steering wheel provides optimal driving position.
· With front pillars designed to maximize visibility, side window sills that descend as they move forward and oversized quarter windows, the Freed offers confidence-building, unobstructed field of vision.
· A wedge-shaped fascia melds into the rectangular cabin section to create the distinctive “triangle & square form” that embodies the concepts of thrilling dynamic performance and ample interior space.
· The front view is characterized by the rich curvature of the hood and the chrome finish of the oversized grille, giving the vehicle a strong sense of presence. Combined with the elongated and angular shape of the headlights, this conveys the impression of chiseled strength.
· Seen from the side, the character lines that sweep toward the rear and relaxed surfaces of the side windows convey movement, while the sculpted surfaces of the body panels give viewers the feeling that the car could break into a sprint at any time.
From the rear, the protruding fenders fuse with the rich curvature of the body panels, emphasizing the vehicle’s low center of gravity and providing a feeling of stability.
· The finely sculpted three-lens rear combination lamps create a sense of depth.
· The addition of Premium Night Blue Pearl body color brings the number of available color schemes to seven.
· The 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine provides full-range power and fuel efficiency of 16.4km per liter. (Results for front-wheel-drive vehicle in 10-15 mode during fuel efficiency testing by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport andTourism.)
· The torque converter and continuously variable transmission provide powerful, smooth acceleration and exhilarating yet comfortable performance under a wide variety of driving conditions.
· Optimal balance between forward and rear body rigidity as well as localized reinforcement of connecting members has resulted in greater dynamic rigidity. A light yet highly rigid body structure was achieved using lightweight but strong high-tension steel and larger cross-sectional areas in structural members, which reduced material thickness and provided the strength necessary to design large openings for the sliding doors and tailgate.
· Quiet operation during idling and acceleration has been achieved by enhancing structural rigidity throughout the body and chassis, which reduces noise-producing vibrations in the cabin’s interior. Also, noise-dampening/absorbing treatments are applied to key areas.
· A MacPherson strut suspension on the front end provides firm yet responsive contact with the road.
· In the rear, an H-shaped torsion beam suspension provides stability and comfort.
· Honda’s Electric Power Steering enables easy maneuverability when parking or cornering, while on the highway the steering feels solid.
· Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering Body not only helps protect occupants, but also mitigates the damage incurred by other vehicles in the event of an accident.
· Pedestrian-injury mitigation technology helps protect pedestrians from injury in case of collision.
· To help protect against head injuries during side collisions, a side curtain air bag system is standard on some models and available on all.
· Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system is a standard feature on 4WD, Gi Aero and Flex i Aero models and available on all others. In addition, engine torque control and DBW throttle control allow for precise control of the vehicle while driving.
· In addition to ISO FIX child seat bars, tether anchors are provided in both the left and right seats of the second row as standard equipment.
· The Freed has been certified by the Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport andTourism as having emission levels 75% lower than those required by 2005 standards.
· All front-wheel-drive Freed variations exceed Japanese fuel economy standards for 2010 by 25%. All 4-wheel-drive Freed variations exceed Japanese fuel economy standards for 2010 by 5%.
Special - needs vehicles
· The Freed features a spacious interior with a low floor as well as oversized door and tailgate openings, which makes it particularly well suited for persons with special needs.
· Available in a wheelchair-accessible model as well as side lift-up seat and passenger lift-up seat models, the Freed provides caregivers and care-recipients outstanding utility. Special-needs Freed vehicles are produced on the same assembly line as the standard production vehicles, which ensures a steady supply.
· The rear of the wheelchair-accessible variation is lower than the standard Freed. It’s equipped with an easy-to-pull-out aluminum wheelchair access ramp with a sure-grip surface and a slope of just 11°. Used in combination with the wheelchair safety belt, care-providers will find it a safe and convenient means of enabling smooth ingress and egress for people in wheelchairs.
· The design of the second-row captain’s seats helps provide wheelchair passengers with an unobstructed view and helps caregivers easily keep track of all their passengers. There is also a specially designed 3-point ELR seat belt with independent chest and waist belts for the exclusive use of wheelchair passengers.
· Full operation of the passenger lift-up seat, including rotation and elevation, can be performed using a single passenger seat switch. The seat is of the same quality and offers the same level of comfort as the standard seat. It also comes with arm rests and a recliner.
· Full operation of the side lift-up seat, including rotation and elevation, can be performed using a single switch at the left side of the second row of seats. As with the passenger lift-up seat, the seat is just as comfortable and of the same quality as the standard seat. It, too, comes with arm rests and recliner. Also, this model includes a left-side power sliding door as standard equipment.
*1 Compact minivan class (engine displacement: 1.5 litter)
*2 Honda calculations
*3 Depending on bicycle model