Summer Reissue : Gear Change

A timely reminder of a fine but forgotten Honda concept leads your correspondent into a bout of fruitless hand-wringing.

2013 Honda Gear concept. (c)

Before continuing, I am impelled to point out that I deserve no credit for highlighting this vehicle once more. It was fellow scribe, R. Herriott (currently en vacances) who first brought the Honda Gear to our attention during DTW’s formative months in 2014. I should also make clear that it is purely coincidental (if convenient) that this piece appears the same week that Honda invited journalists to sample its forthcoming electric-drive E model.

More on that in a moment. But first I invite you to cast your collective gaze over the undeniable excellence of the Gear’s body styling. I see nothing about this design which suggests that a production version would not have been feasible any way, shape or form. Nothing either – monovolume proportions notwithstanding – which particularly dates it.

However this aside, there is another aspect to the Gear’s style which proved striking: the nose treatment, whose simpler, less overwrought, and vaguely retro-facing treatment appears now as a foreshadowing to that of Honda’s soon to appear electric city car.

The reflections seen here from Hamamatsu’s 600N and first-generation Civic have also been cited in the appearance of the 2020-model Honda E – a matter which does suggest that there may have been elements within Honda’s styling centre not entirely in favour of the aesthetic which currently characterises the production Honda range – and who after all might possibly blame them?

But aside from the slight similarity in approach, I would make another observation. As the production Honda E edges ever closer, and despite the obvious thoroughness of its execution, I find myself less enamoured by its appearance than I had anticipated, or indeed hoped. And yes I’m painfully aware of the inconsistencies within this statement, especially given my warm endorsement of the concept which (as we now know) was formulated after it.

It goes without saying that by comparison to Honda’s current production offerings, the production E is a visual masterclass of resolved, uncluttered forms, surfaces and graphics, and as much as one can applaud Honda for moving to a more distinct relationship between volumes not to mention formal a shift towards a cleaner, more product-design aesthetic, I’m not sure how convincing I find it.

All of which poses a question – and I suspect I may be a party of one in this: Would something along the lines of the 2013 Honda Gear have been in retrospect a more appropriate means of clothing an electric vehicle for the year 2020?

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

7 thoughts on “Summer Reissue : Gear Change”

  1. I really love this, but I wonder how it would survive the inevitable transition to 5 doors for production. I think that’s what spoiled the Honda e (somewhat), which looks considerably more dumpy / upright compared with the simpler, lower-looking concept.

  2. At first glance I thought it was a VW ID concept. I have to agree that the Honda E has lost some of its retro charm in translation from the concept. The limited range and high price would make it a non-starter for me.

  3. At first sight, the honda-e concept really got into me. It had that sharp GTI look. Unfortunately, the actual production model lost some of that character as it roonded out. And, it looks mainly retro to me – not a very bad thing but still no real way forward either.
    The “Gear” concept reminds me of the FR-V. Maybe it’s just because of its monovolume proportions. But it looks like an evolution in that design path, versus the downhill path the civic design is heading to. And it looks good too.

  4. I think the Honda e is actually starting to look dated already. Yes I know it hasn’t actually arrived yet, and yes I know it’s a retro-type design. But rather like the S Type I think it looks like it is trying too hard. Conversely I was not a fan of the Fiat 500 at launch, but ten years on it actually looks better to my eyes than it did back then, and the same applies to the Beetle (before its last incarnation anyway).

    I would take a Mk 1 Ka or Mk 1 Twingo in preference without a moment’s hesitation though.

    1. There’s something about the Honda e which reminds me less of past Hondas and more of the K11 Nissan Micra.

  5. Have they spotted a gap which will be very popular? Is this a more realistic price for battery propulsion in the medium to long term, and others, like Zoe and Leaf, will start to creep that way? Or is it over-amibitious and will be a rare sight? It will be interesting to see how well it sells.

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