Let’s be honest, if you’re looking for thrilling automotive experience, a Honda dealership probably isn’t your first stop.
People buy Hondas for reliability, practicality, and function, not necessarily flash and gusto. That doesn’t mean Honda’s aren’t fun, though.
The Honda Civic Si? Charismatic and exciting. The S2000? A 9000-rpm screamer oozing with style. The NSX? Legendarily good. Still, Honda showrooms in 2014 are mostly filled with family and economy cars like the Accord, Insight, and CR-V, but Honda may be returning to sporting form starting next year.
The S660 isn’t exactly the next S2000 (Honda calls it “an open-top sports-type mini-vehicle”), but it hits most of the right marks. Rear-wheel drive? Check. Mid-engine? Check. Sub-1900 pound curb weight? Check. Powerful engine? Yeah, let’s talk about the engine.
At the Tokyo Motor Show, the S660 was fitted with a 660-cc turbocharged three-cylinder, boasting a scant 64 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) gearbox. Those figures won’t exactly inspire fear at the dragstrip, but with such little weight to lug around, it should be plenty spry to drive.
In that sense, the S660 looks to take its cues from the Honda Beat, a small convertible produced in the 1990s. And that’s a good thing: the Beat has become something of a cult classic with its plucky styling and eager, enthusiastic driving feel.
Fun fact: The Beat was the last Honda to be personally approved by Soichiro Honda before his death in 1991. It was also designed by Pininfarina, the Italian design firm behind the Alfa Romeo 8C, Ferrari F40, and the Ferrari Enzo.
As of this writing, the S660 is only approved for Japanese production, but with the NSX coming back and another mid-engine sports car reportedly on the way, the S660 could find itself a part of Honda’s global strategy to bring a little sportiness back to the brand.
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