Kei (light automobile) vans are so popular in Japan, and their popularity gave rise to the production of many different models from different companies. In this article, we will compare two models Honda’s Honda Acty versus Subaru’s Subaru Sambar. These two models are tough, dependable, and economical workhorses that have proven their worth for a very long time. We will look at the interior and exterior features, practicality, and engine to inform you as a potential buyer to make it easy for you to decide. Please read on.
Honda Acty vs Subaru Sambar Side-By-Side Comparison
(*Prices are reflective of average BE FORWARD pricing as of May 2021)
Honda Acty Subaru Sambar
Generations 4 7
Production Year 1977 – Present 1961 – Present
Performance 28 HP – 45 HP 18 HP – 58 HP
Fuel Consumption 14 KM/L – 23 KM/L 16 KM/L – 17.7 KM/L
Drivetrain 2WD and 4WD 2WD and 4WD
Key Features Airbag, A/C, Power Steering, Power Windows, ABS Airbag, A/C, Power Steering, ABS, Power windows
Seating Capacity 4 Passengers 4 Passengers
BE FORWARD price US$ 630 – US$ 8630 US$ 1360 – US$ 16,410
The Honda Acty is a car that is made to be convenient and cheap and as a result, most of the things that are deemed unnecessary and costly have been omitted to be able to make the car affordable to the masses.
The Honda Acty is a five-door, four-seat van that comes with two seats at the front and a bench for two at the rear. The front seats are comfortable enough and come with a headrest, while the rear bench does not come with a headrest and is not that comfortable nor supportive, but enough to support the passenger for the urban commute.
The three-spoke steering wheel is height adjustable, the binnacle features two big round analog meters, one is a tachometer and the other is a speedometer. There is also the presence of gear selector lights, a fuel gauge, and a trip meter as well. At the top of the center console there are two air vents with the hazard switch to its right, followed by an air direction switch below them. Then you find three rotary climate control buttons followed by a simple radio that can be removed and replaced by a double din radio.
The Acty van has several storage facilities beginning with the glovebox, a tray under the glovebox, door pockets, and dual front cup/bottle holders. The boot area with the rear seat is 6’4” in length, 4’6” in width, and 0’ 11” in height.
The Honda Acty is a Kei car, and thus falls within the Kei car dimension with an exterior length of 11’2”, a width of 4’8”, and a height of 5’7”. With a wheelbase of 7’9” Honda placed the Acty’s tires at the extreme corner of the vehicle to achieve the maximum possible interior space. The front doors open wide enough making it easier for the driver and front passenger to get in and out of the car, the two rear sliding door are so convenient, especially when the is parked in tight spaces, as they don’t open wide but rather slide making it easier for commuters or cargo to embark and disembark. At the rear, the Acty is fitted with a lift gate giving room for loading and unloading of cargo.
The standard safety features of the Acty include Front Airbags, ABS brakes, and seatbelt pretensioners.
The Sambar is a 5-door 4-seat microvan built to be as convenient and cheap as possible. The Sambar features a simple dash with a simple binnacle, fan control, air direction control, radio, double hazard switch, and air vents. The steering wheel height can be adjusted up and down. The front seats are simple but enough to accommodate the driver and passenger comfortably they also feature a headrest. At the rear, there is a bench seat for two; it’s simple enough to afford the rear passengers some comfort in short urban commutes.
The Sambar offers several storage options such as a glovebox, a central tray between the front seats, and door pockets. The cargo area is large enough to accommodate two mountain bikes comfortably.
The exterior of the Sambar is kept simple with two large headlights at the front, a big windscreen allowing the driver good visibility, a ventilated bumper for engine cooling, the option for a high or regular roof, Sunroof, fog lights, rear LED turning lights, and rear privacy glass.
Safety features included on the Sambar include Airbags, 4-channel ABS, and seatbelts.
Engine and Fuel Efficiency Comparison
The Honda Acty has been in production since early 1977, and its releases came with different engines as listed below.
- The 1st generation (1977-1988) Acty came fitted with a 0.5-liter 2-cylinder SOHC engine that produces 28 HP. This engine transferred power to the wheels via a 4/5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission.
- The 2nd generation (1988 – 1999) Acty came fitted with either a 0.5-liter 3-cylinder E05A SOHC engine that produces 35 HP with average fuel consumption of 23KM/L or a 0.7-liter 3-cylinder E07A SOHC engine that produces 37 HP with average fuel consumption of 20 KM/L. These engines transferred power to the wheels via a 4/5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission.
- The 3rd generation (1999 – present) Acty came fitted with a 0.7-liter 3-cylinder E07Z SOHC engine that produces 45 HP with average fuel consumption of 14 KM/L. This engine transferred power to the wheels via a 5-speed manual or 3/4-speed automatic transmission.
Subaru commenced the production of the Sambar in 1961. The Sambar is popular for its rear engine and rear-wheel drive with the option of four-wheel drive. The Sambar is currently on its 7th generation and has used different engines throughout as listed below.
- The 1st generation (1961 – 1966) Sambar came fitted with a 0.3-liter 2-cylinder EK31 air-cooled engine that produces 18 HP. This engine transferred power to the wheels via a 3-speed manual transmission.
- The 2nd generation (1966 – 1973) Sambar came fitted with either a revised 0.3-liter 2-cylinder EK31 engine with improved power of 20 HP or a 0.3-liter 2-cylinder EK33 engine that produces 26 HP. These air-cooled engines transferred power to the wheels via a 3 or 4-speed manual transmission.
- The 3rd generation (1973 – 1982) Sambar utilized several engines due to emission regulatory measures implemented at the time.
First, it came fitted with a water-cooled 0.3-liter 2-cylinder EK34 engine that produces 28 HP. Early 1976 the Sambar began using the 0.3-liter 4-cylinder EK21 SOHC engine that produced 28 HP, then in mid-1976 Sambar received a new engine, the 0.5-liter 4-cylinder EK22 that produced 28 HP, and lastly received another engine in the first quarter of 1977 the Sambar received the 0.55-liter 4-cylinder EK23 that produced 28 HP. These engines transferred power to the wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission.
- The 4th generation (1982 – 1989) Sambar came fitted with either the 0.55-liter 4-cylinder EK23 used on the previous generation but with an improved output power of 34 HP or the 0.6-liter 4-cylinder EK42 that produces 31 HP.
- The 5th generation (1990 – 1999) Sambar came fitted with a 0.7-liter 4-cylinder EN07 SOHC engine that produces 55 HP and average fuel consumption of 17.7 KM/L. This engine transferred power to the wheels via a 5-speed manual or CVT transmission.
- The 6th generation (1999 – 2012) Sambar came fitted with a 0.7-liter 4-cylinder EN07Y SOHC supercharged engine that produced 58 HP and average fuel consumption of 16 KM/L. This engine transferred power to the wheels via a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission.
In 2007 Toyota who bought a stake in Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru’s parent company) decided that from there on all Sambar will be a rebadged Daihatsu Hijet, a car that is manufactured by Toyota’s subsidiary, Daihatsu Motors.
Mini Vans are so useful due to their small nature, their small but economical engines, their ease of maneuverability within cities, and their ability to accommodate several passengers. For over 55 years since the Sambar was introduced as the first Kei van, there was no turning back, and Honda seized the opportunity as well by introducing the Acty in 1977. The Acty and the Sambar have proved their worth all these years and from this article, we can see why. We hope this article has brought you to a position where it has become easy to choose between the two, so please visit BE FORWARD and choose the car of your choice from our long list.
Written by: Samuel H. Mponezya