The Honda IMAS

The wedge-shaped front fascia includes large, lower air ducts, projector-style HID headlamps and smooth lines for enhanced aerodynamics. In the rear, high-illumination LEDs are incorporated into the taillight housing for a visibility-enhancing three-dimensional design. Dual exhaust tips are integrated into the bumper and a rearview camera, located next to the taillights, transmits the view behind the car to the driver via the navigation system tilt-up screen when the concept shifts into reverse.

Inside, the concept features a race inspired cockpit with black nubuck leather trim and anodized aluminium accents on the door panels, centre console, steering wheel and meter housings. Dual gauge clusters feature a tachometer/shift meter on the left and an analogue/digital speedometer on the right. A thick, leather-wrapped performance steering wheel and aluminium foot pedals offer increased road feedback and precise control.


IMAS is a concept car that seeks to demonstrate that environment-friendly credentials don’t preclude fun-to-drive, sports car performance.

Honda’s designers have taken inspiration from and tried to capture the freedom of movement provided by a bicycle – a mode of transport that responds instantly to the rider’s input, is highly manoeuvrable, environmentally friendly, and above all, provides that invigorating feeling of slicing through the air.

To achieve this, they have created a highly distinctive and advanced design that is light in weight, aerodynamically efficient and powered by the latest version of Honda’s petrol-electric hybrid system, IMA (Integrated Motor Assist).

Constructed mainly from super-light carbon fibre and aluminium, the IMAS weighs in at only 700 kg. The body’s sweeping contours feature sharp exterior lines combined with smooth planes to create an exceptionally aerodynamic form, and details such as faired in rear wheels and rear combination lights built in to the rear spoiler contribute to a very low drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.20.

The interior makes no pretence at disguising the functional elements of IMAS, instead highlighting the high efficiency design philosophy behind it. Sparse and yet extremely stylish, it is dominated by an exposed central skeletal structure of polished aluminium housing the gear selector, padded armrest and secondary controls. The elements of its construction echo the frame of a racing bike, a design motif repeated in the door-mounted trims.

The cabin’s futuristic and minimalist look continues with a slim fascia in blue/black carbon that perfectly complements the exposed aluminium elements. An ultra-thin, transparent instrument panel and similarly styled navigation monitor provide precise, comprehensive information, including images from a CCD camera of the area to the sides and rear of the car. A steering wheel shape reminiscent of those used in dragsters ensures an excellent view of the digital readouts.

Power is provided by the latest version of Honda’s IMA system which supplements a highly efficient petrol engine with a thin and lightweight electric motor to assist the engine when accelerating and recapture energy when braking or decelerating. IMA in combination with a slippery and light body results in an outstanding fuel consumption figure of 113 mpg (2.5 l/100 km).

Further technological sophistication is provided by a shaftless VGS steering system and a drive-by-wire throttle for a natural, linear response. Working in perfect synergy, these electronic control technologies produce a crisp and clean driving experience.

continues... | Part Three

Published : 21/04/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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