Created by a design team at Honda's R&D facility in Offenbach, Germany, the petite OSM -- which stands for Open Study Model -- offers a look at what the automaker feels to be the future of clean, green sports machines. Unveiled at this week's British International Motor Show, in many ways, the car ended up raising as many questions as it answered.
To Honda's credit, this stunning little two-seat roadster was presented as a low-emission sportscar concept, with no current production intent for Europe or anywhere else. But after teasing the world with various leaked sketches and pre-debut buildup, the press conference totally and intentionally avoided any and all references as to what kind of low-emissions powertrain a fully driveable version of the OSM might have underhood. The obvious choice would be some updated/uprated incarnation of Honda's IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) gasoline/electric package currently used in the Civic Hybrid and also destined to appear the new CR-Z coupe and an as-yet-unnamed hybrid sedan that arrive in the U.S. next year. But beyond indicating that the OSM features a paddle-shifted semi-sequential transmission, Honda offered no further hints about the motivation specifics for this sleek little one-off -- or what lies immediately ahead for the IMA in general.
Also left unsaid but hardly unpondered was the prospect of fine tuning the basic OSM design to serve as a much-needed replacement for the aging S2000. While a Honda of Europe spokesman reportedly dismissed that possibility, a good deal of time and effort has clearly been spent finessing various exterior and interior detail elements on this showcar to create a visual statement that could well please both hard-line sportscar enthusiasts and those more concerned with treading the thin green line towards tomorrow. If nothing else, we suspect that a number of cues seen on the OSM are likely to become part of Honda's future styling language.