However, unlike the original Multipla there's nothing quirky about the Honda FR-V's styling, which manages to combine ruggedness with a degree of sophistication - which is not surprising, really, since the front-wheel drive vehicle is built on the same floorpan as the 4x4 CR-V.
A six-sided dice was part of the design inspiration for the FR-V, says Honda, with the ability to quickly and effortlessly change from one seating arrangement to another.
Six occupants sit in two rows of three, with the individual rear seats folding quickly and easily into the floor to increase FR-V spaciousness, while still maintaining the ability to seat three adults safely and comfortably in the front row.
Six airbags are fitted, including a large volume passenger airbag which extends across two thirds of the cabin to protect the occupant of the middle seat.
ABS brakes with EBD and BAS are standard, as well as Honda's VSA stability system.
The interior has an upmarket ambience which hints at luxury sedan with the subtle use of dark wood and high-quality materials.
A bold and stylish grille sets the visual tone, with horizontal bars finished in chrome adding an upmarket element and making an immediate association with the likes of the Accord.
A deep air intake under the colour-coded bumper feeds air to the cooling system for the 2-litre VTEC engine, while the bumper wraps around the flanks, integrating with the long, narrow headlights to give the FR-V a sharp and purposeful look.
A steeply raked windscreen and relatively low roof height provide a sensation of speed. At the rear Honda opts for a sloping rear window to enhance both its styling, and its aerodynamics.
Large exterior mirrors are mounted on stalks, with side indicator repeaters in the lower part of the mirror housing. There are body-coloured side protection strips.
Other features include 16-inch alloy wheels, chromed door handles, front fog lights set low down in the valance and a stubby antenna on the trailing edge of the roof.
The FR-V uses a 2-litre i-VTEC powerplant similar to that fitted in the CR-V. In this guise it makes 110 kW at a sporty 6 500 r/min, and 192 Nm at 4 000 r/min.
Honda says the FR-V Combined fuel consumption is 8.4 litres/100 km, dropping to just 6.9/100 on the open road.
Drive to the front wheels is via a six-speed manual gearbox, and Honda claims the FR-V is capable of a maximum speed of 195 km/h, reaching 100 km/h from rest in 10.5 seconds.
The FR-V has a low centre of gravity despite its relatively upright stance and tall cabin, and the result is excellent stability at all speeds.
The track width is 1 550 mm in front and 1 560 at the back, dimensions that are higher than those of rivals.
The front end uses MacPherson strut suspension, while at the rear there are double wishbones. Tyres measure 205/55 on 7Jx16 rims.
Suspension settings are tuned to provide car-like manners: the amount of body roll, as well as the rate of body roll, has been limited to provide a reassuring feel when cornering.
With a short overhang manoeuvrability is a strong point, resulting in a turning circle of just 10.4 metres. Steering is via hydraulically-assisted rack and pinion, with 3.25 turns lock to lock.
Safety features include a passenger front airbag of 133-litre (double volume) designed to extend across both passenger seats. Total frontage when deployed is 860 mm.
Driver and passenger airbags also feature dual stage inflators which vary the level of inflation relative to the impact speed.
In addition, there are front side airbags incorporated into the seatbacks, as well as curtain airbags that extend the full length of the passenger compartment.
The key to the FR-V's layout is a gearlever and a handbrake lever that both sprout from the dashboard, making it viable to fit a third seat between the front passenger and the driver.
This middle seat can slide through 290 mm, which means that when sitting three abreast the occupants aren't forced to sit shoulder to shoulder.
The middle seat is at its most forward position when the outer seats are at their rearmost, keeping the occupant well away from the controls, and the dashboard of the car.
When not in use it can be folded flat to act as armrest, with the additional option of flipping the foremost part of its cushion through 180 degrees to reveal additional storage space.
Alternatively (if the middle seat is occupied), the floor-level slide-out storage compartment can be used.
The integrated tuner/CD is mounted high on the dash and in addition there are satellite controls on the left-hand spoke of the steering wheel. The switchgear for the cruise control is placed on the right-hand spoke.
The steering column adjusts for reach and rake, and the driver's seat is height adjustable.
A similar staggered seating arrangement can be utilised in the back, with the centre seat moving through a range of 170 mm.
To increase space the individual rear seats dive-down with a simple one-handed action, collapsing flat into the floor for a maximum luggage space of 1 049 litres when loaded to the windows
With all six seats in use there is 439 litres available when loaded to the sill.
Price: R214 000, including a five year/100 000 km service plan, a three-year/100 000 km warranty, and a 1-year roadside assistance programme.
Service intervals include an oil change every 10 000 km with a full service every 20 000 km.