Mitsuoka returns with Civic-based M55 Concept

Ever wondered what a muscle car-inspired Honda hatch might look like? Mitsuoka has the answer…

By Matt Bird / Thursday, 16 November 2023 / Loading comments

Mitsuoka likes to keep us on our toes – you never quite know what they’re going to come up with next. This is the M55 Concept, and while the famous Mitsuoka nostalgia fest design language is present and correct, the theme is rather different. No longer pastiches of classic British saloons or US SUVs, we now have the Mitsuoka mini muscle car. 

All the cues are here, from the window slats to the tyre writing to the grille that couldn’t look much more like a Dodge Challenger. Only this isn’t a muscle car at all – it’s a Honda Civic. That’s right, Mitusoka has used the latest Honda hatchback to live out its Americana dreams. Obvious when you look at it in profile, yes, because the Civic’s extended silhouette really can’t be disguised, but Mitsuoka can’t be faulted for effort. As is always the case. It calls the look ‘adult hatchback style’. 

The era has been very deliberately chosen, too. Mitsuoka was formed in 1968, and suggests that the ’70s were ‘an important era that laid the foundation for today’s business’ thanks to a ‘torrent of energy within us full of dreams and hopes’. Most importantly it saw an Americanised influence on Japanese cars, just as is recreated here, and perhaps best demonstrated back in the day by cars like the ‘Kenmeri’ Nissan Skyline, which there’s a hint of in the front of the M55.

We think this is the first Honda that’s been overhauled by Mitsuoka (the Oroshi sports car was NSX-based as a concept, but with its own architecture for production). It’s only really on the inside where the commonality is clear – it’s a Civic interior with a Mitsuoka badge on it and some crazy leather. Nobody buys one of these for the inside, though, and they’ve really gone to town on the outside.

The overhangs have been extended, the front end – complete with deeper valance, the quad lights and chrome – is straight from the muscle car playbook and the rear deck louvres could make an old Mustang Mach 1 jealous. It’s a proper job. Granted, like every Mitsuoka that’s trying to be something it’s not, the dimensions aren’t quite right, but it’s also a more mature look than we’re perhaps used to, in line with the RAV4-based Buddy seen last year. 

Whether you’d rather be seen in a Civic or an M55 is kind of a moot point, however, as Mitsuoka maintains this is just a concept car. A suspiciously production-ready concept car, if you ask us, but that’s what happens when you’re too keen. It’s not even going to a motor show, Mitsuoka instead showing the M55 at a pair of special exhibitions in Toyama and Tokyo during December and January. Let’s hope those visitors are really, really enthusiastic about it.

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