First Look: 2009 Honda P-NUT Coupe Concept

Crack as many jokes about the name as you want, but the Personal-Neo Urban Transport — or P-NUT — concept is another take on an ultra-futuristic Honda coupe.

Like the FC Sport concept shown at last year’s Los Angeles auto show, the P-NUT is the fruit of the Advanced Design Studio based in Honda’s American research & development center. While both concepts sport strong character lines and an angular front fascia, their missions are completely different.

“The objective of the exterior and interior designers was to explore the potential for a new type of small segment category vehicle that overcomes many of the objections for existing ultra-compact designs,” says Dave Marek, director of Honda’s Advanced Design Studio. “[P-NUT] also shows that small cars don’t have to compromise on style or amenities.”

Although the P-NUT’s form is rather polarizing — you either like the Fit-meets-TIE Fighter appearance or you don’t — it’s hard to argue against Marek’s last point. The P-NUT measures only 134 inches long — more than two feet shorter than a Fit — yet provides three occupants with interior space akin to an Accord.

Such space is accomplished through some nifty packaging work. Designers implemented a seating arrangement not unlike the McLaren F1 — the driver is placed front and center, flanked by two passengers. Pushing the powertrain to the back of the car — much like the Volkswagen Up! concept — also helps increase the space available inside.

Visibility is also a boon — not only is the driver shoulders ahead of both passengers, but expansive use of glass provides a nearly panoramic view of the surroundings. The P-NUT’s glass roof tapers in front to form the windshield, and runs all the way into the front bumper. A slim, cantilevered dashboard helps minimize obstructing the view ahead

Unlike the CR-Z “concept” shown at the 2009 Tokyo motor show, it’s obvious the P-NUT isn’t a future production model gussied up for auto show crowds. This is purely a design exercise through and through, but seeing as how Nissan has already pledged a similar vehicle will reach production in the near future, we wouldn’t be surprised if something similar to the P-NUT makes its way to city streets in the years to come.