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Honda Today
Honda Today.jpg
1990–1993 Honda Today JA2
Body and chassis
ClassKei car
LayoutFront engine, Front-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
PredecessorHonda Life (1974)
SuccessorHonda Life (1997)

The Honda Today (Japanese: ホンダ・トゥデイ) was a kei car (minivehicle) produced by the Japanese automaker Honda beginning in 1985. It was replaced by the Honda Life in 1998. Honda's smallest car being produced at the time was the Honda City, which was a supermini and it had an engine larger than kei car legislation allowed. The Today represented a reentry into kei car production. Honda had abandoned kei passenger cars in 1975, choosing only to keep manufacturing the Honda Acty kei truck and the related Honda Street microvan in that segment. After 1975, Honda's smallest car was the Honda Civic, until the introduction of the smaller Honda City in 1981.

The "Today" name has since been used by Honda for a 50 cc scooter manufactured in China, available from 2002 until 2016.

First generation

Honda Today JW1-JW4, JA1-JA3
Honda today honda collection hall.JPG
1985 Honda Today JW1 (original version)
Body and chassis
Body style3-door hatchback
3-door light van
Wheelbase2,330 mm (91.7 in)
  • 1985–1990: 3,195 mm (125.8 in)
  • 1990–1998: 3,295 mm (129.7 in)
Width1,395 mm (54.9 in)
  • 1985–1990: 1,315 mm (51.8 in)
  • 1990–1998: 1,350 mm (53.1 in)
Curb weight
  • 1985: 550–560 kg (1,212.5–1,234.6 lb)
  • 1994: 620–730 kg (1,366.9–1,609.4 lb)

The first generation Today (JW1) was introduced in September 1985 as a three-door hatchback van - it was originally only sold as a light commercial as the tax structure favored such vehicles. The rear axle was a torsion beam with coil springs, while the front wheels are on struts with forward reaching control arms.[1] The Today was initially launched with three different model specifications, with the entry model being model 'F', followed by a model 'M' and the top of the range 'G'. The Today was only intended for the Japanese domestic market.[2] It was introduced at newly established Japanese dealerships called Honda Primo locations alongside the Primo "headliner" sedan, the Honda Civic. The flat roof hatchback design appearance was shared with the incrementally larger supermini Honda City, the compact Honda Civic, and the mid-size Honda Accord AeroDeck.[1] Thanks to a very compact engine and the trailing arm rear suspension, Honda was able to give the car minimal overhangs and a wheelbase of 2,330 mm (91.7 in), the longest of any kei car at the time.[1] Thanks to the efficient packaging, the passenger compartment took up over three quarters of the cars length.

Originally available with either a four-speed manual or a two-speed Hondamatic semi-automatic, it was powered by a 31 PS (23 kW) water-cooled two-cylinder Honda EH series OHC 545 cc engine — the same as used in the Acty kei truck.[2] The engine has a single-barrel Keihin carburettor and, since it was a commercial vehicle, did not need a catalyst but could make do with an EGR system to control emissions. The transmission sits on the right side of the engine with the differential mounted beneath.[1] In a period road test of a Hondamatic-equipped car belonging to the General Motors Test Fleet, Car and Driver measured a top speed of 69 mph (111 km/h), while the 0-60 mph (97 km/h) sprint required 34.2 seconds. The standing quarter mile time was a lengthy 23.9 seconds with a closing speed of 56 mph (90 km/h).[3]

A five-speed manual became available on the special edition Today G in September 1987. Another special edition appeared in February 1987; the Today M-based "Pochette" received special colors and was aimed at female buyers. The Pochette became a regular model by 1990 and remained available into the second generation.

In a market where three-cylinder engines were the norm, this ultra-compact unit (developed for the Acty truck from the 1974 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle engine) was already outdated and was replaced by the three-cylinder, four-valve, single overhead camshaft E05A 547 cc engine in February 1988.[4] At the same time, the Today underwent a minor facelift in which the car's round headlights were replaced by aerodynamic lenses matching the rest of the Honda family.[4] The hood had to be made made taller to accommodate the bulkier engine. The rear was also modernized, with the bootlid featuring a small spoiler on top and a larger rear windshield. Beneath, there was a new, smoother bumper with restyled taillights which eventually found their way onto both the second and third generation Acty vans (and the Vamos Hobio); this lamp design remained in production until mid-2018. The second generation also received a regular three-speed automatic with a torque converter rather than the earlier Hondamatic, and for the first time a passenger version became available (in March 1988).[4] Sales targets were 9,000 per month for the van and 1,000 per month for the private car version.[5]

The suspension was also upgraded, as was the dashboard. Chassis codes are JW2 for the commercial model and JA1 for the car version. The range were F, M, G, Ri, and Ri-Z (JW2) and XG and XTi (JA1). The XG and all fuel injected models were equipped to better handle highway driving, featuring front stabilizing bars and front disc brakes. The fuel injected versions also have progressive coil springs at the rear.[5] Later, lower cost XE and XL passenger versions were added as light commercials began losing their domination in the segment. Power outputs varied, since commercial vehicles suffered less stringent emissions regulations. The lower end models all produce 36 PS (26 kW), although the passenger models required an electronic carburettor called PGM-carb.[5] The fuel injected models have 44 PS (32 kW) in commercials, 42 PS (31 kW) in automatic vans and manual passenger models, and 40 PS (29 kW) in passenger models with the automatic transmission.[4][6]

660 cc era

Together with the new regulations in March, 1990 the bumpers were enlarged to give the car a length of 3,295 mm (129.7 in), and the engine was enlarged to 656 cc. Power is 42 PS (31 kW) for the carburetted versions, 52 PS (38 kW) for the fuel injected ones. By April 1990, came a permanent four-wheel drive version with an independent rear axle and struts. The new chassis codes were JW3/JW4 (commercial 2WD, 4WD) and JA2/JA3 (passenger version 2WD, 4WD).

The second generation Today was introduced in 1993 and was designed around passenger comfort, unlike the more utilitarian original model. The passenger models of the original Today (JA2/JA3) were discontinued immediately, but the commercial model - called "Today Pro" in some years - was kept in production in parallel until kei car regulations were changed in 1998. The lineup was further reduced in September 1994 to the basic Pro F, the Humming X, and the four-wheel-drive Pro QP and Humming QX models. The fuel injected version had already been discontinued and the five-speed manual was only available coupled with four-wheel drive.[7] The other models received a four-speed manual or an optional three-speed automatic.[7] The well-equipped Humming models were an attempt at recapturing the buyers who were put off by the lack of a rear hatch of the second generation Today, and proved more popular than the newer model. Both models continued to be built in parallel until Kei car regulations were changed in October 1998.

Second generation

Honda Today JA4/JA5
Honda Today 011.JPG
Honda Today Pochette 2-door (pre-facelift)
Body and chassis
Body style
Engine656 cc E07A I3
Wheelbase2,330 mm (91.7 in)
Length3,295 mm (129.7 in)
Width1,395 mm (54.9 in)
  • FF: 1,350 mm (53.1 in)
  • 4WD: 1,370 mm (53.9 in)
Curb weight650–760 kg (1,433.0–1,675.5 lb)

In January 1993, a redesigned Honda Today was announced. Unlike the first generation, which was originally designed to meet the light commercial car requirements, the second generation Today was designed as a passenger car from the outset. Thus, the suspension was tuned for a more comfortable ride and the car did not have a hatchback; in its place was a trunk lid that opened downwards to form a tailgate, like the 1992 Civic three-door (although unlike the Civic, the Today's rear window does not open). This increased the rigidity of the bodyshell; the unusual rear windshield was shaped in a "J line" and was meant to maximize the view to the sides.[8] The interior is not symmetrical: the driver's seat is slightly wider than the front passenger seat, at 500 and 460 mm (20 and 18 in) respectively. These features were decided on after research indicated that the car's target audience were mostly single young women who often drove alone, with little need for cargo space or room for additional passengers.[9]

Initially only available as a two-door, in May 1993 a four-door version was added, named the Today Associe. On four-door models with power windows, the rear windows were still manually operated. Aside from on the lowest equipment level (Mi), a driver's side airbag was offered as an option. On the higher equipped front-wheel drive models, an ABS system was also available, although this encroached considerably on the space in the luggage compartment.[10] Ordering the airbag or the ABS brakes was also the only way to get three-point ELR belts in the rear seat, rather than the usual waist belts.[11]

The 1993 Today was available with two engines, a standard 656 cc three-cylinder fuel injection E07A engine, and a high output version of the same engine with MTREC technology for the Xi model (called Rs in the facelift model). MTREC stands for "Multi Throttle Responsive Engine Control" and features individual throttle bodies for each cylinder. This engine was borrowed from the Honda Beat, although the Today's engine was tuned for more low-end torque than the high-end Beat. MTREC-engined models received a three-spoke steering wheel and a tachometer. Power outputs are 48 PS (35 kW) at 6300 rpm for the regular model and 58 PS (43 kW) at 7300 rpm for the MTREC-equipped versions; torque figures are 5.8 and 6.1 kg⋅m (57 and 60 N⋅m; 42 and 44 lb⋅ft) at 5500 or 6200 rpm respectively. The engines were largely unchanged throughout the life of the second generation Today.

Both engines were available with either a five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic gearbox. All-wheel drive (using Honda's Realtime 4WD technology) was available with the Q trim level; unlike in the first generation Today, four-wheel drive was also available with an automatic transmission. As with the first generation Today, front-wheel drive models have a coil suspended rigid rear axle located by two trailing arms and a panhard rod, while four-wheel-drive versions have independently sprung rear wheels using struts. Until 1996, Today buyers could still specify the traditional Japanese fender-mounted mirrors on the base Mi model, still popular with professional drivers at the time.[12]

For the Today's February 1996 facelift, Honda eliminated the tailgate rear door, and replaced it with a traditional hatchback door. This necessitated a thorough redesign of the rear end (resulting in a look very similar to that of the Honda Logo, which appeared a few months later), because the rear window had originally wrapped around to the sides. The option of a driver's side airbag was now available across the range, whereas before it had only been offered on select models.[13] The five-door arrived one month after the three-door and was now simply called "Today", forgoing the "Associe" name. The front was also reworked, gaining a tiny grille and with different bumpers. The chassis numbers remained JA4 and JA5 (FF/4WD). Reflecting the changing market conditions the five-door Today was no longer available with the more powerful MTREC engine, as buyers tended to appreciate more economic models.

One part shared between both generations and all models of the Today was the single windshield wiper arm for the front windshield. While never successful in a changing market, where "tallboy" design was the order of the day, the low slung JA4/JA5 Today with its comparably rigid construction has developed a strong following with racers and tuners nowadays. There is a thriving afterparts market, helped further by sharing an engine with the evergreen Beat.


In light of the Suzuki Wagon R's success, Honda decided to introduce a modern version of its 1970s Honda Life "StepVan" microvan, and reintroduced the Honda Life model name in 1997. When the kei car regulations changed in October 1998, necessitating a redesign, the "tallboy" Life was updated while the Today, which was a modern interpretation of the first Honda Life three-door hatchback, was discontinued.

Media appearances

The Honda Today featured frequently in Kōsuke Fujishima's You're Under Arrest as the main transport for the lead characters. The vehicle featured was a highly personalized minipato (police mini patrol car) with modifications such as nitrous oxide, turbo and others, and with a Motocompo folding bike stowed in the back compartment.

The Honda Today is featured in video games, including Gran Turismo 4 and Kat's Run: Zen-Nippon K Car Senshuken for the Super Famicom.

It appears in Patlabor as an Main Car for the characters.


  1. ^ a b c d Csere, Csaba (November 1986). "Honda Today: Space efficiency doesn't have to be ugly". Car and Driver. Vol. 32 no. 5. CBS Magazines. p. 109.
  2. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (5 March 1987). Automobil Revue 1987 (in German and French). 82. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 314. ISBN 3-444-00458-3.
  3. ^ Csere, pp. 110-111
  4. ^ a b c d 自動車ガイドブック [Japanese Motor Vehicles Guide Book 1988–89] (in Japanese), 35, Japan: Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, 1988-10-25, p. 131, 0053-880035-3400
  5. ^ a b c "四輪製品ニュース 「ホンダ・トゥデイ」" [Automobile Product News: Honda Today]. Press Information (in Japanese). Honda Motor Co. 1988-02-08. Archived from the original on 2004-02-19.
  6. ^ Automobile Guide Book 1988–89, p. 239
  7. ^ a b "ホンダ トゥデイ 1994年9月(平成6年9月) 発売モデル" [Honda Today, 6 September 1994 model release]. Goo-net (in Japanese). Proto Corporation. Archived from the original on 2016-04-03.
  8. ^ "ホンダ トゥデイ 1993(平成5)年1月 発売モデル" [Honda Today, 5 January 1993 model release]. Goo-net (in Japanese). Proto Corporation. Archived from the original on 2016-04-03.
  9. ^ "ニューカー速報 トゥデイ" [New Car Bulletin: Today]. Gold Car Top (in Japanese). No. 72. Kotsu Times sha. 1993-03-10. p. 59. T1063644480347.
  10. ^ Today Associe (Brochure) (in Japanese), Honda Motor Company, Ltd., May 1993, p. 9, 93TD4-KB-304Ⓜ
  11. ^ Today Associe (Brochure), May 1993, p. 13
  12. ^ Suzuki, Shunji (ed.). "トゥデイ(1996年2月終了モデル)" [Today: Model built until February 1996]. Old Car Catalogue (in Japanese). Honda Motor Co., Ltd. Archived from the original on 2011-01-13.
  13. ^ "ホンダ トゥデイ 1996(平成8)年2月 発売モデル" [Honda Today, February 1996 model release]. Goo-net (in Japanese). Proto Corporation. Archived from the original on 2015-04-23.
This page was last edited on 12 November 2020, at 12:13
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