If you believe this ad, the Honda Logo will come to you fresh from rainclouds of Japanese skies. It will fall in liquid blob form to the calls of seagulls into the middle of your standard Japanese urban shopping arcade. Then you can drive around town in its “human sizing.” Whatever that means.
Yes, this ad is completely ridiculous and probably reminds you of some crazy mash up of Transformers and Terminator II. Where the T-1000 turns not into a police officer with a giant knife for an arm, but rather an unassuming Japanese city car, ready to terrify John Conner, who is sent to live with his Father in Tokyo and becomes a Drift King—wait, that’s the plot of Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Well, close enough.
So, about that Logo: by 1996 the bubble economy was already well and truly crashed, and while Japanese cars had always been about economy, the Honda Logo was truly a reflection of its time. Situated between the kei car Life and the subcompact Civic, the Logo was roughly the dimensions and the engine size of the original 1973 Civic.
The Logo wasn’t very popular in Japan, and it never really got much international attention overseas. In the years between 1996 and 2001 when it was produced, it was only sold outside of Japan in the UK, and only in 2000-2001.
Unfortunately for Honda, the younger drivers the company was trying to reach did not find the Logo particularly enticing. In its base trim model it wasn’t particularly fun to drive and didn’t seem to have much of a spirited design. Eventually, Honda realised their mistake and produced the TS and Sportic TS versions with a 16 Valve engine, AWD, no five speed transmission but a Honda Multimatic CVT and exterior styling reminiscent of the Civic Type R.
It didn’t work. But the lessons learned from the poor sales of the Logo, and Honda’s creation of the TS and Sportic TS models led Honda to design its successor—the Fit. Much of the sales feedback from the Logo went into producing a Fit which was both practical and spacious, but also pretty and fun to drive. The Fit remains arguably the most popular vehicle in Japan since its inception in late 2001.
If you drive a Fit, thank a Logo. Like mine:
Image via Kat Callahan, video via Honda/YouTube.