Over in America, they’re used to going camping in anything from repurposed work vans to colossal palaces on wheels. But what if I told you that you could camp in something smaller — way smaller? That would be the opportunity offered by the Honda N-Van Compo if it were ever sold here.
A reader sent this kei van in, and it almost makes me want to flirt with messing around with the U.S. government. Now I can’t stop thinking about the absolute smallest campers.
The N-Van Compo starts off as Honda’s cheerful and adorable N-Van. Released in 2018, the N-Van is a successor to the Vamos and Acty vans that ended production in the same year. It’s 340 cm long, or 52 shorter than a current generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. Yet you have decent room for four with a decent cargo area to spare. But can 3.35 m of van be made into a usable camper?
White House Camper in Japan sure thinks so.
On the outside, the N-Van Compo looks like any other N-Van but with a rack on its back and that pop-up roof tent. The roof tent alone is pretty cool, but the magic really happens inside.
Inside, the interior was cleverly converted into a compact camper van. There are modular bed mat pieces that can be laid out to cover nearly the entire floor space of the van. Just flip the driver seat around, lay down the pieces, and you have enough room for one taller person and a shorter person to sleep.
Buyers have a choice of three interior layouts. The most practical layout is Style-One, which nets you some overhead storage, two sinks, a fresh water tank, microwave, refrigerator, solar panel, table and screen doors.
That’s pretty impressive for such a small vehicle, and I like how it’s packed together.
The concept is expanded with a pop-up roof tent, which can be accessed from within the van.
You can also add a whole room to the side of the van with the optional awning.
Accessing the van or that room is easy since there isn’t a B-pillar on that side of the van.
White House says that this thing can carry four people, and it looks like it could actually sleep everyone in reasonable comfort. The person up in the pop-up tent even gets their own heater.
Style-Two is like the Style-One layout, but the kitchen area is rearranged to the side, and you get lots of shelving for storage.
The final layout, Cabin, leaves the pop-up tent as merely an option. If you don’t opt for it, you also lose the solar panel option, but you can gain a roof rack. The Cabin is more minimalist, losing the sink and with the microwave and refrigerator also becoming options.
Driving the van is a 658cc S07B inline three. This makes 53 horsepower in naturally aspirated form or 64 horsepower with a turbo.
The pint size also translates to a pretty reasonable price. Style-One starts at about $US30,000 ($41,646), Style-Two starts around $US29,500 ($40,952) and Cabin begins around $US27,700 ($38,453). Opting for the turbo version and four-wheel-drive adds a few grand to each. Sadly, you can’t get one in the States for a very long time. But don’t lose hope; you can always use this cutie as a template to turn an old Acty into something very close to this.
This article has been updated since it was first published.