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Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2012 LA Auto Show

What is it? The alluring little EV-STER, a rear-drive sports car concept roughly the size of a bedroom slipper, was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in December, 2012 and was seen again at the Paris Motor Show last September. It completes its world tour in Los Angeles.

The EV designation would seem to indicate an electric vehicle, and if so, it would be logical enough since tiny lightweight cars lend themselves to electrification. Tesla pioneered that recipe with its first production car, the Tesla Roadster, derived from the sexy-looking Lotus Elise. And with the launch this year of the Honda Fit EV, the company is no stranger to all-electric small cars. But speculation is rife that the EV-STER will actually be a gas-powered replacement for the much-loved Honda S2000, which ceased production in 2009. Smaller, though: With an overall length of 140 inches and a width of 59 inches, the EV-STER is about two feet shorter and nearly a foot narrower than the S2000 was.

What’s new or different? The concept EV-STER has a carbon-fiber body to save weight while maintaining strength. The most futuristic feature is the steering yoke: two handles that take the place of a conventional steering wheel. As in a zero-turn commercial lawn mower, to make a left turn you would pull on the left handle and push on the right one.

Kitted out as an electric car, Honda has said that its lithium-ion battery pack and smallish 78-horsepower-equivalent electric motor would produce a range of about 100 miles between charges, and a rather leisurely 0-60 mph sprint time of 8 seconds or so. The space behind the front seats looks large enough to fit a reasonable-sized gasoline engine, which would create a rear-drive mid-engine sportster like the old Toyota MR2 Spyder.

CR’s Take: If the EV-STER ever sees the light of day as a production car rather than a design exercise, as has been suggested, it would have to be a lot quicker than the prototype electric vehicle to find favor on the American road. We’ve reached the point in EV development where good performance and a long range need to be considered as givens if an EV hopes to make any headway at all. (And hopefully Honda has learned a similar lesson from the spiritual heir to the CRX, the decidedly dull CR-Z hybrid.) While a replacement for the S2000 is yearned for by many, it’s less clear that a much smaller sports car is what people are pining for in America.

Consumer Reports New cars: A to Z

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