By Ronan Glon
Sunday, Dec 16th, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

Over four decades have passed since Subaru last sold a kei car on U.S. soil but the firm still competes in the lucrative market segment in its home country of Japan. Its latest offering wears the name Pleo + and is based on the year-old Daihatsu Mira e:S.

The Pleo + wears soft lines and a smile-like radiator grille in order to take on the indisputably cute Honda N One. Buyers who want to take the cute look a step further can pick between several optional pastel colors such as pink, light blue and yellow.

Inside, the Pleo + is better finished than its small size might suggest. It comes standard with a digital instrument cluster that incorporates an economy menu, and several storage bins are hidden throughout the car.

Kei cars are limited in engine displacement so there are no surprises under the hood. The Pleo + is powered by 650cc three-cylinder engine that makes 51 horsepower and 44 lb-ft. of torque. Linked to a CVT transmission, it can send power to either the front wheels or all four wheels.

Thanks in part to a brake energy recuperation system and a standard start/stop system, the pint-sized Subaru is capable of returning up to 71 mpg in a mixed Japanese cycle.

The Pleo + will carry a base price of 795,000 yen (roughly $9,600) when it goes on sale in Japan late next month. At the time of writing Subaru does not plan on offering the car outside of its home country.

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