The 10 Best Honda Kei Cars of All Time

JDM Cars

Last Updated

Honda has a long history of producing Kei cars – small, fuel-efficient vehicles that are popular in Japan. In fact, Honda was one of the first companies to produce a Kei car.

Over the years, Honda has released some great models in this category. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the best Honda Kei cars ever made!

Honda N360

Honda N360

The Honda N360 is one of the best Kei cars of all time, and one of the first produced. It was introduced in 1967 and quickly became a hit with drivers who appreciated its nimble handling and fuel efficiency.

The N360 remained in production until 1972, and despite its relatively short lifespan, the N360 left a lasting impression on the automotive world while helping to establish Honda as a leading manufacturer of tiny city cars.

There was also the N400 and N600 in the same range, although the larger engine displacements of these models meant they didn’t comply with Kei regulations.

Today, the N360 is prized by collectors for its unique design and historical significance. Thanks to its enduring popularity, the N360 remains one of the most popular Kei cars of all time.

Honda Z360

Honda Z360

The Honda Z360 was a kei car produced by Honda from 1970 to 1974. It was powered by a tiny 354cc two-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed or five-speed manual transmission.

The Z360 was lightweight and had a low center of gravity, which made it nimble and fun to drive. Although it was not particularly powerful with just 31 horsepower, the Z360 was praised for its handling and fuel economy.

The Z was available in other markets around the world, although the 360 model was considered too underpowered, so most countries got the Z600 variant. In Japan, this model didn’t comply with the Kei regulations.

Production of the Z range ended when the Civic was launched, and today the Z is considered one of the most influential Honda Kei cars of all time.

Honda Life (1st Gen)

Honda Life

No list of Honda Kei cars would be complete without the inclusion of the Honda Life. First released in 1971 as a replacement for the N360, the Life quickly became a popular car in Japan.

Thanks to its compact size and easy maneuverability, the Life was perfect for city driving. It also featured unique styling that set it apart from other Kei cars.

It was available in a variety of body styles, including two and four-door hatchbacks, and a three-door station wagon. It was powered by a 356cc engine and had a front-wheel drive layout.

The Life was reasonably well-equipped for its time, and was also exported to a handful of foreign markets. Despite this, production ended in 1974, once again thanks to the success of the new Honda Civic.

Today it remains popular with collectors and enthusiasts thanks to its well-rounded package and rarity.

Honda Today

Honda Today

The Honda Today is a truly iconic car. After Honda’s 11 year hiatus on producing Kei cars, it was launched in 1985 and quickly became one of the most popular small cars on the market.

Thanks to its styling, fuel economy and reliability, the Today remained a popular choice for city-dwellers for a number of years.

It was only intended for the Japanese market, and featured a 545cc engine capable of producing a whopping 31 horsepower, although this engine was upgraded over the course of its production.

A second-generation model, released in 1993, featured softer suspension and more space for the driver, making it even more popular with commuters.

With production of the Today eventually being halted in 1998, it represented the end of a hugely successful era for this particular model.

Honda Beat

Honda Beat

The Honda Beat is without a doubt one of the best Kei cars of all time. It was introduced in 1991 and quickly became a popular choice among car buyers in Japan.

The Beat is a small, two-seater convertible with a mid-engine and rear-wheel drive configuration. It’s known for its peppy performance and nimble handling.

The ’90s proved that there was a growing market for small sports cars in Japan, and the Beat was perfectly positioned to take advantage of this.

It had a 656cc engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, and as with all Kei cars, was also fuel-efficient and relatively inexpensive to maintain.

The Beat was discontinued in 1996, but it still has a cult following among Honda fans and Kei car fans in general.

Honda Life (2nd Gen +)

Honda Life 2nd Generation

By 1997 the Honda Life was back, this time with a taller design than the original 1970s model as a response to changes in buyer behaviour.

The car quickly became popular with young drivers and helped to continue Honda’s reputation as a leading manufacturer of small cars for young Japanese motorists.

The 2nd Generation Life was powered by a 656cc 3-cylinder engine and was offered in a front-engine, front-wheel drive configuration.

Thanks to changes in Kei car regulations, it was quickly replaced by the 3rd Generation Life in 1998 which was slightly larger in size.

In 2003 the 4th Generation was launched, continuing the ‘tall-wagon’ trend that had become synonymous with the Life and Kei cars from other manufacturers during the time.

By 2008 the 5th and final generation hit the forecourts, which eventually went out of production in 2014. A true icon of the Kei car world, the Life remained a popular choice for Japanese buyers over the course of many decades.

Honda N-Box

Honda N-Box

After the success of the Life, the N-Box spelled the beginning of a new era of Kei cars from Honda. Tall, spacious and practical, the N-Box became an instant hit with Japanese car buyers.

First launched in 2011 and aimed solely at the Japanese market, the N-Box was available with a 658cc engine that produced 58 horsepower.

It has undergone a variety of changes since its inception, with the 2nd Generation being launched in 2017 which featured an increased focus on safety equipment, among other things.

The N-Box certainly lives up to its name, with the rectangular design making it one of the most boxy and practical Kei cars on the market, perfect for city-dwellers or those with a family.

N-One

Honda N-One

First introduced in 2012, the N-One has become one of the most popular Honda Kei cars on the market. Thanks to its unique retro-modern design, the N-One turns heads wherever it goes.

But it’s not just a pretty face – the N-One still offers similar practicality to the N-Box despite its shorter height, and with a spacious interior and a long list of standard features, the N-One is as practical as it is stylish.

The design harks back to the first-generation Honda Kei cars in the 1960s and ’70s, and with a range of retro-inspired colours available, it’s easy to see why this car has become such a hit.

The N-One is powered by a 658cc engine and the 2nd Generation model was introduced in 2020, featuring a some modernization of the exterior design.

Honda N-WGN

Honda N-WGN

Another Honda ‘N’ Kei car that was introduced in the early 2010s, the N-WGN features a tall design with practicality at its heart.

Like the N-Box, it offers plenty of interior space for passengers and cargo, but has a more stylish exterior than its boxy counterpart.

It has spacious dimensions and a high roofline, making it a comfortable and practical car for everyday use.

Thanks to its unique styling, the N-WGN has become a favorable choice for those looking for a blend of style and practicality, with many owners adding creative touches to make their car stand out from the crowd.

Honda S660

Honda S660

In 2015 the Honda S660 became the latest addition to the Kei car lineup, and it quickly became one of the most well-known options on the market.

In a throwback to the days of the sporty Kei cars of the 1990s, the S660 is the successor of the ever-popular Honda Beat. It also takes inspiration from the Honda ‘S’ sports cars of the 1960s, such as the S500.

The S660 is powered by a 658cc turbocharged engine that produces 63 horsepower, and it features a modern, sleek, and sporty design that’s sure to turn heads.

Thanks to its compact size, the S660 is incredibly easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces. And with an impressive fuel economy, it’s ideal for drivers who are looking to save money at the pump while still enjoying the thrill of the open road.

After several successful years, Honda ended production of the S660 in March 2022.

The S660 rounds off our list of the most popular Honda Kei cars, and it’s easy to see why this car is such a popular choice.

Whether you’re looking for style, practicality, or a blend of both, there’s sure to be a Honda Kei car that’s perfect for you.

Leave a comment