Honda has copied the Fiat Multipla’s 3+3 seat layout for its new FR-V compact MPV (minivan) which is based on the CR-V SUV’s platform.

The car has two rows of three individually adjustable seats and a dash mounted gear lever.

“Six seats are plenty for most small families. And with all the seats in two rows, it’s easy for everyone in the car to talk to each other, making it a more friendly way to travel,” is how Honda explains its choice of cabin layout.

It also points out that the 3+3 layout allows a large boot (trunk) – not always the case with this type of vehicle. The three rear seats both fold individually and fold flat into the floor with a one-handed action.

The central front seatback folds down onto its cushion to make room for extra-long items or to form a table and the seat cushion also has a fold-out extension complete with storage drawer underneath it.

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All six seats have three-point seat belts fixings and the centre front seat and the two outer rear seats have Isofix child seat mounts. Additionally, the front seats have pre-tensioners and load limiters. As an extra aid to child safety, the central front seat moves 270mm further back than the outer pair; when travelling with a child in the front, Honda recommends that the seat is moved to its rearmost position.

Full-length curtain airbags, twin front dual-stage airbags and front side airbags are available.

At launch in November there will be a choice of two petrol engines: a 125PS (92 kW) 1.7 litre SOHC VTEC unit (with 5-speed manual transmission ) and a 150PS (110 kW) 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC unit (with 6-speed manual transmission). In 2005, they will be joined by Honda’s new 2.2 litre i-CTDi diesel engine with 6-speed manual transmission. There’s no mention of automatic transmission for Europe.