In 2017, more than 65,000 cars were imported in Pakistan, and we have one of those cars for you this time. Previously, we reviewed Honda N-WGN Custom. This time around, we are doing a detailed review of Honda N-BOX. The car in question is a 2014 Honda N-Box GL Package. Honda’s N series vehicles are part of its Kei car range. Kei cars are 660cc small cars made to bypass heavy Japanese road taxes. Japan introduced a certain car category with lower taxes as an incentive for people to buy and drive small cars to reduce the road rush in the city traffic. The Kei car segment is too lucrative for any Japanese automaker to ignore. The demand for these small cars is not only high in the home country, but also on the rise in Pakistan as well where we have been importing these small fuel-efficient cars in bulk.
Also Read: Honda N-WGN Custom Detailed Review
Honda offers three cars in its N range of Kei cars:
Arguably the N-One and N-Wgn are far more popular cars compared to Honda N-Box, but that does not mean the N-Box isn’t any good; all these three cars fulfill different needs. Honda unveiled the N series back in 2011, which later went on sale in 2012. The first generation N-Box lasted till the mid of 2017 when Honda launched the second generation of the N-Box.
Let’s take a detailed look at the first generation Honda N-Box.
Honda N-BOX Exterior
Considering the overall shape of the car, Honda chose quite an appropriate name for the car. It does look like a box from the outside with a little stub at the front; where the engine is.
First of all, let’s talk about the front end of the car. As I said above, the front looks like a stub protruding outwards compared to the rest of the boxy shape of the car. The overall profile of the front end is quite angular and squarish as well as tall. Considering its a Kei car, these cars can only be so much wide. So, although that you will notice that it is a tall car, but the overall width of the car is narrow. The front end design of Honda N-Box 2014 is quite simple, unlike the N-One model. You get rectangular shaped headlights at the top of the front end right underneath where the bonnet closes. And in the middle of those lights, you will find a simple grill with a chrome strip at the top. Underneath the grill, there is a lot of vacant areas where you get various radiator vents and grills.
The side of the car is quite plane and straight with only a slight bump above the front and rear fenders. The arches are bulging outwards. The wheel arches of the front wheels start right from the bottom of the bumper in the front and then go right over the wheel and then convergence at the bottom of the car travelling straight back to the rear and making the same design on the rear wheel that you get in the front. You’ll also notice the original Honda alloy wheels with 155/65R14 75S tires as well.
Considering the odd height of the car, Honda has tried to make the upper half of the N Box as user-friendly as possible with glass all around. By user-friendly I mean that you get excellent visibility. You get a massive front windshield along with transparent side class where the A-pillars of the car are. Similarly, you have big windows in both the front and the rear doors. Where the glass of front two door windows is entirely transparent, the back door windows are slightly tinted. The tint darkness increases when you move towards the back side panels glass as well as the rear windscreen. The glass is designed to block the harmful rays of the sun.
Both front doors open almost at 90 degrees making the access very easy and comfortable.
Both the back doors are sliding where the left one is automatic, and the one on the right is manual. By automatic I mean it is motorised and you just have to pull the door handle and the door will slide backwards on its own. And when you have to close the door just again give the door handle a little tag, and the door will shut automatically. You also get a button inside the cabin next to the steering wheel to automatically close and open the left side door. The door windows in the back doors, however, do not fully roll down like the front ones.
The rear of the car is pretty much as straight and plain as the sides of the car are except for a bit of Chrome with Honda monogram. The back lid will open straight up making almost a 90-degree angle with the car. On the sides, you get simple white transparent looking backlights. The rear back screen also comes with a wiper. The car has a keyless entry system and comes with a fob that allows you to enter the vehicle.
Honda N-BOX Interior
Let’s take a look at the interior. Looking at the photos, you will notice how similar the dashboard design is to the other Honda Kei cars. Overall the dashboard looks contemporary, but one can argue that it seems cluttered and kind of messy. There are too many bulges and slots on the dash.
The passenger side dashboard has a couple of layers where you can put your stuff right above the glove compartment. On left of the dashboard you get a cup holder. In the middle of the dash, there are all the relevant controls; from head unit to A/C controls to gear lever to the start-stop button. Moving to the driver’s side, you get a typical Honda steering wheel with media control switches on the left. Above the steering wheel, you get three dials of the meter. In the centre one, you have your speedometer along with the various indicators (gear position, eco mode, seatbelt light etc.). In the left dial, you have your RPM meter and a digital display that show information like fuel quantity, trip meter, fuel average, temperature etc. in the righthand side dial.
On the right side of the dashboard, you also have your eco mode button, automatic sliding door button, and traction control button. The parking brake lever is in the bottom next to the brake pedal. The steering wheel is adjustable.
You can not only slide front seats forward and backwards, but can also recline them. The driver seat also comes with height adjustment lever (manual). There is an armrest between the front as well as between the back seats. Seats have basic upholstery and come in dark fabric. There is minimal padding but do not confuse it to be uncomfortable.
Overall, the touch and feel of the dashboard and side panels are just fine. There is no other way to put it. All door panels are all-plastic without even a hint of fabric. The plastic feels scratchy and but it is not thin. The dashboard material is, however, better to the touch than the door panels.
Honda N-Box 2014 comes with four speakers; two in the front doors and two in the back, where the C-pillar is next to the rear seats. There is a lot of storage places though. From as many as four cup holders to various slots and pockets throughout the interior (dashboard and door panels) give you plenty of areas to put your stuff in.
Since all these new cars do not come with a spare wheel, you get a puncture repair kit with an air pump instead. Lift the cover in the floor of the car at the back, and you will find the kit with a car jack nicely packed.
Honda N-BOX Performance
Despite the fact that this car has a 3-cylinder 656cc engine and weighs around 930kg; it is still pretty quick. I mean do not expect it to burn the asphalt when you bury the throttle, but you will notice how quickly it can reach highway cruising speeds with just a little push of the accelerator. This Honda 12-valve DOHC engine (S07A) makes typical 58 BHP that is sort of standard for almost all NA 660cc Kei motors. The engine is mated to a CVT gearbox. N-Box makes 65Nm of torque at 4700rpm. And it might surprise you, even this tiny 660cc Honda motor comes equipped with continuous variable valve timing (VTC). There are AWD and turbo engine N-BOX variants available as well, but this one has a normal naturally aspirated engine and a simple CVT that powers front wheels.
One reason that I think why the car was making decent power and was running pretty well is that it is essentially almost a new car. And by new, I mean new in Pakistan. This particular N-Box is a 2014 model and has been driven almost 16500 kilometres. But it is a fresh import (2017). That means the car has not seen enough of our local fuel. Let’s be honest the fuel available in Pakistan is not that great whereas these important Japanese cars are made to run on premium Japanese fuel. So I think if you give it around six months, the car will probably drop its performance like many other 660CC cars already in Pakistan. It’s a relatively high compression ratio engine (11.8).
Fuel average and fuel tank
While we were roaming around in the car in the rush-hour traffic of Lahore, the car was continuously showing 16.9 km per litre fuel average. It doesn’t matter if the Eco mode was on or off this is pretty much the average for all of the time. The car comes with a 35-litre fuel tank. And I am pretty sure if you drive it gently, the car can give you much better fuel average than what we were getting. It comes equipped with start-stop technology so you can get better mileage in a longer period of time than what we were getting. We were trying to push the car as hard and as often as we could. It was a fun little car to drive to be honest; can’t blame us for having some good times as well.
Talking about the braking of N-Box, I can comfortably say that this car has pretty good braking performance. You get disks in front and drums in the rear. For its size and higher centre of gravity, the car performed exceptionally well whenever I applied brakes. Even when I tried to intentionally engage its ABS, the system would not activate, and the car would stop on its own without any help and without skidding. And that is a pretty good thing. It means the braking and suspension of the car are so well designed that it does not need any foreign help to stop. We were three people in the car when we went out for the test drive, and every time I applied the brake a little harder those other two sitting in the back seats would tilt and slip forward with the motion of the car.
Since we were testing the car in winters, there wasn’t much that I could test when it comes to the air conditioning performance of the N-Box. It was working just fine as you would expect. One thing you will notice that if you are driving the car with Eco button on the throw of the blower fan is not as strong as it is when the Eco button is turned off. With Eco button on the air throw of the fan was not enough to reach the passengers in the back.
Honda N-BOX Comfort & Handling
Let’s talk about the handling and comfort of the car a little bit. As for the overall space in the car is concerned you get a boatload of space, there is no question about it. There is space in front of you, at the back of you, there is space above you, and there’s space underneath you. But it gets a little tight if you want to measure space on the sides of you. The first-gen N-Box is only 4.8 feet wide (exterior), and is 4.4 feet wide for interior dimensions.
Space for driver and passengers
Considering it is kind of a van you will notice that the sitting position is also quite straight up like it is in cars with the tall body. You can see in the photos that there is even a small storage place underneath the back seats. So even if you are taller than 6 feet, your knees won’t be touching your chin, and you will have plenty and plenty of leg as well as the headroom above. Believe it or not, the interior of the N-Box is more than 7 feet long and 4.6 feet tall. So yes there is a lot of leg and head space.
For the driver, the steering is adjustable as well as the adjustable driver’s seat, so you can adjust everything how you like to drive. There won’t be any issue of your knees getting cramped and touching the steering wheel/column.
However, if you have your rear seats reclined fully backwards, there is not enough boot space. In fact, the back of the rear seats will almost touch the rear lid/hatch. But you can fully slide the seats forward and then there will be some decent amount of space in the rear with backs at an upright position. The seats can travel back and forth about 19cm.
If you want space and nothing else, then the Honda N-Box has got you covered. Both of the rear seats can be folded, and you get a big flat loading bed in the back of the car; right from the rear hatch all the way to the backs of the front two seats. Push the button on the corner of the backseats and you can flatten it forward. Moreover, if you want space in the middle of the car, you can lift the seats up like it’s in the photos below. This can be done with both seats.
The car comes with the regular Japanese in-car entertainment system that you see in almost all imported cars and has media controls on the steering as well.
Now let’s talk about the ride quality of the car. Considering the height of the car, which is 5.8 feet, Honda has paid special attention to the way the car behaves and works on the road, and that has affected its ride quality as well. Usually, Honda vehicles are considered to be stiff, but this is not the case in N-Box. Although, the ride was slightly firm but it was not hard, and the car took bumps quite nicely. Seats are relatively comfortable although they look kind of skinny. The suspension did its work splendidly by not only making the car drive nicely on the bad/worn out roads as well as providing maximum comfort to the passengers.
You get MacPherson Strut in the front and torsion bar type suspension in the real. And for this type of car, this type of suspension is just perfect. It makes it handle pretty decent as well as gives it the capability to haul the load.
While driving the car, you will notice how lazy the N-Box behaves in response to steering input. If you just flick the steering quickly, the car takes a moment to understand what you want it to do and then moves in that direction. N Box comes with Electronic Power Steering (EPS). The steering feels light and kind of numb. Honda has done something clever with the steering system of the car. At high speeds, you have to put extra steering input for the car to react. It is done considering the height of the car. You do not want the car start wobbling and lose control at high speeds if you even sneezed and the twitched the steering a little. On the one hand, it makes it safe to drive without the fear of car losing its ground in case you give it unnecessary steering angle, but on the other hand, you have to put extra effort to steer it.
Then there is the body roll of Honda N-Box. Considering how tall the car is you will notice it leaning outwards when you turn inside. But the suspension setup makes it all squishy yet controlled. You feel like the suspension is made of rubber, you feel like the car is about to tip on its sides but it doesn’t, and the hypothetical rubberband brings the car back to straight position. N-Box does not felt erratic like you would notice in high-roof vehicles like Suzuki Bolan. It has excellent road grip for its size and height. The behaviour of N-Box reminded me of the new Toyota Hiace vans; like how they behave on the road when turning or gliding over bumps and humps. It is just like a big lazy thumping animal that just sways from one side to another without actually falling off.
N-Box has the turning radius of 4.5 meters, similar to Honda Honda N WGN and a little more than Suzuki Mehran (4.4 m).
As I said earlier, there is a lot of leg and headroom. But considering the car is narrow, you cannot fit three adults in the back of the car. It will get quite tight. But you can easily and quite comfortably fit four adults (2+2) or two adults and three kids (2+3) in the car.
Honda N-BOX Safety
You get most of the new gadgets that are available in most imported JDM cars. The car comes equipped with ABS and electronic brake force distribution. Also, there is a traction control as well. Other than that, you get standard two airbags and seatbelts for all passengers.
Considering the odd height and overall shape of the car Honda has provided a couple of driver aids like side view support mirror as well as rear viewing angle support mirror the better help you view outside the car when you are driving or have to park it.
Honda N-BOX Verdict
If you are after a small car with loads of space that is also comfortable and gives pretty decent fuel average, then the Honda N-Box is for you. N-Box is comfortable, and overall a fun to drive little van. It makes enough power for your normal daily chores and hauling. But considering it is an imported car and replacement parts are scarce, there is a downside to all this as well. For someone living in any major city, finding parts might not be that difficult, but it can get tricky if you live in some rural area. In such scenario, I don’t think buying it is a good idea.
In my opinion, the price is on point though. As I said above, it is a 2014 GL package. The approximate price of this sort of N-BOX is between PKR 12 lakh to 12.5 lakh. For a city a dweller who needs a small family car that can transport some small payload as well, this is a pretty neat option. It can be a mini-transporter as well as a weekend family car.
Browse through all three galleries for more photos below: