Honda has begun selling a new compact minivan called the Freed in Japan.

It seats five, seven or eight (three-row versions with either a centre bench or twin seats are offered) and special mobility assist versions – with side lift-up seat and passenger lift-up seat – were also offered at launch. A wheelchair-accessible model will go on sale next month.

Honda said the new minivan has its original low-floor and low-centre-of-gravity technology, to achieve a compact body size that makes it easy to manoeuvre through city streets as well as a spacious cabin that enables [usually smaller Japanese] adults to sit comfortably in all three rows.

The new model is 4,215mm long, 1,695mm wide and 1,715mm high on a 2,740 mm wheelbase. Dual sliding side doors are standard and power assistance is optional.

The engine is a 1.5-litre i-VTEC unit with torque converter and continuously variable automatic transmission.

Electric power steering is used and stability assist is either standard or optional. A four-wheel drive version is offered as is usually the case with Japanese domestic market model lines. These versions are targeted primarily at buyers in Japan’s snowy regions.