The Wako R&D Center in January1984 began the basic research on a new drive
system, as a means of achieving a shift from Hondas FF (front-engine/front-wheel
drive) vehicle type to another format. In those days, FF was the mainstream of
Honda cars, and Honda models used it to ensure superior interior comfort and accommodations.
However, the development team believed a change in drive format could enhance
the flexibility of frame design and packaging. Therefore, the focus of research
was to be to an underfloor, midship-engine rear-wheel drive (UMR) format. This
could combine higher packaging efficiency along with the sporting characteristics
with which rear drive was associated.
The potential in such a change also presented numerous obstacles. It was Hondas
first experience to design a car with the engine in the rear half of the vehicle.
In February of the same year, with that in mind, and to expedite their research,
the development team constructed a UMR test vehicle from a first-generation City.