Honda takes to the skies with one of the most creative aircraft designs in the history of aviation

Yes, Honda. You’d be right to associate that name with scooters and Civics rather than private aviation. But Honda has also made everything from robots to jet packs, and its engineers also noticed that small business jets looked a bit… boring. It’s taken the Japanese automaker 30 years to invent something better and get it in the air, but the HondaJet is finally on sale and has been hailed by one US mag as ‘one of the most creative aircraft designs in the history of aviation’.

Robb Report was, of course, among the very first to fly in it. The HondaJet is classed as a very light jet, or VLJ, with two pilot seats, a jump seat and four passenger seats in ‘club’ layout. Honda’s great leap was to figure out a way of mounting its new, very refined, low-emission turbofan engines over the wings. This makes the HondaJet more aerodynamic, and thus faster and more efficient. And because the engines are no longer bolted to the fuselage, the cabin is much quieter, and 20 per cent more spacious.

Some of that space has been used for the proper toilet at the back. At £4m, there are cheaper VLJs, but some make do with an emergency potty with a curtain. What price dignity?

Inside, this Honda smells like a Bentley with its pale, supple, very high-quality hide trim. There’s enough legroom for the passengers not to play footsie with each other, and the absence of noise and vibration, even on takeoff, is remarkable. In level flight, it’s serene. With a top speed of just under 500mph it’s nearly 100mph faster than a Citation Mustang, and with an operating ceiling of 43,000ft it can cruise direct to your destination above the airliners. We flew from north Wales to Stansted in 40 minutes, and then to Birmingham in 20. This isn’t transport: it’s teleportation.

Ben Oliver