At first glance, this may look like Honda’s “Airwave," a small Asian-market people-mover/wagon. The “Airwave” badge is covered with a small piece of electrical tape, as are the Honda badges. With a facelift expected for the Airwave in 2009, it would have been easy to assume that this was just a freshening (although it did seem odd to see two left-hand-drive versions of the Asia-only Honda).
It was difficult to see the body-colored panels welded on from afar, but getting a close-up look at this “Airwave," we quickly noticed the front clip and headlamps were right off the Japanese version of the Jazz/Fit. Also, the dash and all the gauges were right off the Fit. This was no Airwave, nor was this a Fit!
This is actually a developmental test mule for the much-publicized 2010 “Global Small Hybrid." This isn’t speculation! Because styling details aren’t visible, sources were willing to divulge a few details about these very vehicles, and we were able to confirm that these are indeed engineering mules for Honda’s Prius-fighting hybrid.
Honda’s all-new hybrid, likely to debut in 2009, is expected to exceed the current Prius’ MPG rating and sell for a lower base price. Global sales are estimated at 200,000 units annually, with half of those to be sold in the United States. The new hybrid will be built in Suzuka, Japan and will offer an all-new, dedicated hybrid powertrain.