The 2000s were something of a golden decade for “tall hatchback” MPVs in Europe, and the good news for Japanese manufacturers was that they had plenty of home-market-optimized vehicles designed for space efficiency that could be brought over to compete with the likes of the Renault Modus, Citroën Xsara Picasso and Hyundai Matrix. From my recent trip to the scrapyards of Northern England, here’s a discarded example of a versatile Honda that we never saw in North America: the FR-V.

What really makes this car stand out is its interesting seating arrangement. There’s a row of three seats in the back…

And another row of three seats in the front! The six-passenger setup used to be commonplace in big, bench-seat-equipped Detroit sedans of 50 years ago, but it’s a tougher engineering challenge to do it in a small car that shares its platform with the Civic and CR-V. The strange-looking Fiat Multipla of the same era had a similar seating arrangement.

The middle front seat bottom hinges forward to make a center console.

The rear seats fold up to make more cargo space, which is respectable even with the seats in use.

In Japan, this car was known as the Edix. It was built from the 2004 through 2011 model years.

Not bad-looking, but certainly not the truck shape that took over the world soon enough.

In the UK, the 2007 FR-V was available with a choice of a 1.8-liter petrol engine or 2.2-liter turbodiesel. This one has the oil-burner, rated at 138 horsepower and 251 pound-feet.

This six-speed manual gearshift sticking out of the dash is reminiscent of the setup in the old Honda N600. There’s no room for a floor shifter with that middle seat, and column-shift manuals were long out of style by the 2000s, so this placement made sense.

The JDM TV commercials are good and frantic.

Sid the Rectangular dog gives the FR-V a three-bone rating.

Beanie Burgers all around and Fizz Buckets to share, with Sid the Rectangular Dog getting the gherkins.

Top Gear broke the news of this car’s cancellation.




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