Another new car! What is it?

Thanks to the magic of Ebay, I have purchased yet another car I’ve not actually seen. In fact, I’ve never driven one at all. Actually, I’m not really sure if I’ve ever even seen one before. Sunday promises to be interesting!

I’ll save details of the actual car for the Collection Caper, but I’ll try to explain a bit more about what it is – a Honda S-MX. Just a few days ago, I didn’t really know what one was either, but I’m building up my knowledge! If you’re wondering why, we’ll the fact I’m editing Retro Japanese magazine should be a big enough clue. I’ve decided the RAV4, while fun, just isn’t interesting enough. That’s why I’ve gone and bought my first grey import – the tag used to identify Japanese market vehicles, which have moved to the UK later in life (because our testing regimes for older cars are much, much less strict).

The Honda S-MX. Not a squashed tomato.

The Honda S-MX. Not a squashed tomato.

The Honda S-MX was launched in 1996 in Japan, and was joined in 1998 by the similarly boxy Nissan Cube. These were cars that rebelled against the squashed tomato look favoured by automobile manufacturers. These are unashamedly practical cars. Curiously, there are two doors on the passenger side, but only one on the driver’s side. Most of the back end is a tailgate, while inside, there are two bench seats, which transform into a bed.

I wonder if it's comfortable?

I wonder if it’s comfortable?

Sadly, my S-MX does not have the lurid orange seat option, though random bits of the interior do indeed seem to have an orange hue. That at least breaks up the sea of grey plastic somewhat. The bed, hatchback and oddball styling have led one pal to sum it up as the Japanese Maxi. That just makes it all the more cool in my book!

The eagle-eyed of you might have noticing the column gearchange, though automatic is the only option. Bench seats, column gearchange, it’s going to be like being in a Ford Zephyr! Or maybe not. The engine is Honda’s B20 twin-cam, in 2-litre form. In effect, it’s a twin-cam version of the engine in the Honda Prelude I owned earlier in the year, producing 130bhp.

The underpinnings apparently owe a lot to the Honda CR-V soft roader, and indeed, there is a four-wheel drive option. I’ve not gone for that one. Mostly because the only one I could find for sale was the Lowdown model. This appeals to the natural boy racer in me, as it came from the factory with a 15mm suspension drop and a smart bodykit. Oh yes. I’m a real boy racer.

Will this car make me the king of cool?

Will this car make me the king of cool?

Mine is black, just like the one above, though much shabbier, and with the usual ‘grey import’ aftermarket fog lamp squeezed onto the backside somewhere. Note the delightful three-spoke alloys and the lack of a rear door.

I must admit, I find the cosmetics entirely appealing. Yes, it’s a fairly bland shape, but I really like the full-height rear lights, and the cheeky front end. I hope I like driving it too. Information scoured from the internet so far reveals that the ride should be surprisingly good for a Honda, and it should even manage 32mpg. My Prelude could do 34, so that sounds about right.

This does mean I’ve now bought a different Japanese car for every single issue of Retro Japanese magazine so far, though this one won’t be appearing in it until the winter issue in December. Shall we place bets now as to whether I’ll still have it by then?

What are your thoughts? Do share them!

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