It is unusual for a Japanese concept car to be revealed at a UK motor show, but Honda did just that at the 2008 British International Motor Show in London in July when it took the wraps off a sports car study to demonstrate that low-emissions technology does not have to equal dull design.
A lightweight roadster design, the OSM (Open Study Model) two-seater, was positioned on the company’s stand together with the CR-Z sports hybrid (slated for production) and FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell car.
"There is no reason why a car that’s more environmentally friendly can’t look great too—and be sporty and fun to drive," said Andreas Sittel, Project Leader for OSM.
The basis for the project is the concept "Clean and Dynamic," and this direction was followed for both the exterior and interior design to provide what Honda describes as a joined-up, consistent "language" between the two. This is demonstrated at the rear of the car, where the body extends into the cabin between the seats.
Designed by Honda’s R&D facility in Offenbach, Germany, the concept, with its rounded styling, may indicate a drophead version of the CR-Z coupe. It looks distinctive, with headlights curving from the nose to the top of the wheel arches.
Curves are also the dominant signature in the cockpit, extending from both door panels to form a frame for the instrument display.
The concept for the instrument panel was to avoid creating the traditional block of "heavy" color and material in front of the driver, says Honda. For that reason, the dash is broken into sections, with the most important instruments in direct line-of-sight of the driver.
Driver information is displayed in a rounded, enclosed central binnacle, with levels and figures in bright blue on a black background. Seats and "door furniture" are trimmed in a new gloss-effect blue leather with white leather sections. Main switches and the gearshift for a robotized manual gearbox are positioned in a panel that curves downward to the right of the driver. A red start button is integrated into the shift lever.
No details of a possible engine have been revealed, but in view of the low-emissions message and its clear link with the CR-Z, a hybrid looks likely although Honda stressed that there are "no plans" to put the OSM into production.