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Watch out, Porsche: Honda could take on the Cayman with a baby NSX

The long-awaited 2016 NSX will be sold as an Acura in the United States, leaving Honda without a dedicated sports car. To remedy the situation, the Japanese car maker is reportedly developing a sub-NSX sports car that will be badged as a Honda all around the world, not just outside of the U.S.

The yet-unnamed model will take the form of a mid-engined two-seater that will be offered as both a coupe and a convertible, and its proportions will be very close to those of the NSX. A rendering published by Japanese magazine Holiday Auto provides valuable insight into what the convertible version of the model could look like.

The NSX is powered by an advanced gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain that teams a mid-mounted twin-turbocharged V6 engine with three electric motors. The smaller model will also be a hybrid, but its drivetrain will be less powerful and a lot simpler because it will be built around a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder borrowed from the Civic Type R parts bin. The four will spin the rear wheels, while an electric motor will be tasked with zapping the front wheels when additional power and grip are needed.

Lightweight materials like aluminum and carbon fiber will keep the sports car’s weight in check. It could be built alongside the NSX at Acura’s new Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, a move that would allow Honda to benefit from economies of scale.

Honda’s sub-NSX model is being largely designed for the United States, so it will be presented either at the Los Angeles Motor Show that will open its doors in November or at the Detroit Motor Show that will kick off the following January.

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If everything goes according to plan, the coupe will land in showrooms next summer as a 2017 model. It will fight in a highly competitive segment against cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Porsche Cayman.

What’s next?

Honda has all but confirmed plans to introduce a more powerful version of the lilliputian S660 kei car developed primarily for markets outside of Japan. Tentatively called the S1000, the roadster will ditch the 660’s 63-horsepower three-banger in favor of a Mugen-tuned turbocharged 1.0-liter four-cylinder capable of delivering about 140 horsepower. However, whether the S1000 will be sold in the United States is an open question.