The fifth-gen JDM-spec Honda Odyssey has launched in Japan – the MPV features sliding rear doors for the first time, and has a higher ceiling, lower floor and more interior room than the previous model thanks to a new ultra-low-floor platform. As before, there are two models: the regular Odyssey (above) and the Odyssey Absolute (below).

UPDATE: The Honda Odyssey has been launched at KLIMS13, full launch report and local spec pics here.

The Odyssey Absolute is differentiated from the regular Odyssey by a more aggressive-looking front apron with mesh in the intakes and fog lamp housings, additional chrome trim and a subtly-different rear apron.

Both get a 2.4 litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder ‘Earth Dreams’ engine with idle stop and a CVT, but the Absolute adds direct injection to the motor, a seven-speed mode to the gearbox and shift paddles.

So the regular Odyssey has 175 PS and 225 Nm of torque at its disposal while the direct-injected Absolute has 190 PS and 237 Nm of torque. Claimed fuel consumption ranges from 11.6 to 14.0 km per litre on the JC08 cycle.

The fifth-gen Honda Odyssey is 4,830 mm long and 1,800 mm wide (+20 mm for the Absolute). Height is around the 1,700 mm mark, wheelbase is 2,900 mm and weight ranges from 1,700 to 1,830 kg.

The regular Odyssey comes in B, G and G EX trims, and the Absolute in base and EX trims. All variants can be had with either front- or four-wheel drive. All four-wheel drive variants are eight-seaters; the front-wheel drive variants can have either seven or eight seats depending on trim. 215/60 R16, 215/55 R17 and 225/45 R18 wheels are available.

There are also ‘special needs’ versions that feature a fully-electric rotating and elevating seat either beside the driver or in the second row.

Some variants come with “premium cradle seats” in the second row – recline the backrest and the seat base rises, adding comfort. They also include footrests and articulated backrests. The third-row bench is divided into three – each passenger can select their own reclining angle.

Interior height is a generous 1,325 mm in the front-wheel drive variants and Honda says the second and third rows have about the same level of head clearance.

The aforementioned ultra-low-floor platform encompasses a flat and slender fuel tank and a flat rear floor. The rear door steps are only 300 mm from the ground, making entry and exit easy.

The previous Odyssey’s front and rear double wishbones have been replaced by MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam out back, which supposedly saves weight. Additionally, there’s enhanced rigidity, a drive-by-wire throttle and an increased steering angle that facilitates a 5.4-metre turning circle.

Driving aids offered on higher-spec variants include a multi-view camera, automatic parking (Honda Smart Parking Assist System), blind spot monitoring, Collision Mitigating Brake System and City-Brake Active System. See the US-market 2014 Honda Odyssey here.

Honda Malaysia sold the third-gen Honda Odyssey here, but skipped the fourth-gen model. The good news is, this fifth-gen model will be coming to Malaysia by the end of the year, through official channels.