LATEST: Honda Freed Review – first impressions in Indonesia

Honda Malaysia has launched the Freed, which the company describes as a “premium compact MPV” in a new market segment. The “premium” slant is meant to distance this seven-seater from rivals’ compact MPVs, and the Freed’s price of RM112,980 (OTR with insurance) backs up the positioning – it’s costlier than the Nissan Grand Livina 1.8 and the much larger Toyota Innova, for instance.

The Freed has a unique trump card however – automatic sliding doors that can be operated from the key fob (and from within the car, of course). These doors come with anti-pinch sensors and open to a gap of 600 mm. Honda also points out the low 410 mm height from the ground to the Freed’s floor; this plus grip handles enable easy access for children and the elderly, it says.

The doors open to a “walkthrough cabin” that has four “captain chairs” for the first two rows and third row seats that fold up sideways, like in old scool 4X4s. Up front is a dual layer dashboard with the instrument binnacle situated ahead of the driver. Everything else is in the middle – an aftermarket 2-DIN Alpine stereo with USB port, a chunky gearknob and the air-con controls. The parking brake is a foot brake. Safety kit wise, the Freed comes with dual airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist and “neck-shock mitigation seat” – the latter basically reduces whiplash injury in an accident, although Honda’s term for it sounds very bombastic.

The Freed sits on the Jazz/City platform, although its 2,740 mm wheelbase is quite a bit longer than the City’s 2,550 mm. The wheelbase is actually 140 mm longer than the Grand Livina’s although the Nissan is longer overall. The drivetrain is similar to the what we’re familiar with in the City – a 1.5-litre single-cam i-VTEC paired to five-speed automatic. For this application, the gear ratios are shorter and the 116 bhp/146 Nm engine makes 2 bhp less and 1 Nm more than the City. The steering is EPS, suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam at the rear, while the brakes are front discs and rear drums.

We’ve already driven the Freed and visited the Indonesian plant where it rolls out from, and our impressions and verdict will be coming your way soon. For the meantime, check out the live images from this morning’s launch.

GALLERY: Honda Freed Launch Live Photos
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GALLERY: Honda Freed Colors
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GALLERY: Honda Freed Exterior
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GALLERY: Honda Freed Interior
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VIDEO: Honda Freed