What am I looking at?
This is the Honda S660 Concept, being displayed by Honda at the Tokyo Motor Show next month.
And what’s new?
Pretty much everything except the shape. We’ve seen this car before, in the form of the pretty out-there Honda EV-STER, but the car has been honed into a much more conventional and even production-ready form. The interior in particular is much more what you’d expect from a production car, though it’s still fairly swish and not likely to make it to market unscathed.
What powers it?
The name hints at the engine – a 660cc, three cylinder petrol unit, likely kicking out 63 hp, mounted behind the driver and driving the rear wheels, like a miniature Honda NSX (also on display at Tokyo).
If you think you’ve heard this combination before, you’re right. This is pretty much the modern interpretation of Honda’s 1991 Beat, the result of what happens when an F1 title-winning engine manufacturer is forced to build cars to Japan’s incredibly restrictive “keijidosha” city car regulations – they go a bit crazy and build a sports car.
Well, rumours abound that Honda plans to produce a small, open-topped sports car for the market in 2014 and even if it’s only for Japan it should be of interest to UK consumers as Japanese market cars are right-hand drive – ripe for import.
Kei car regulations mean that any production version will be no larger than 11’2″ long and 4’10” wide – about 8 inches shorter and 6 inches narrower than a Ford Ka!
As it’s just a concept at the moment, the S660 isn’t on any price lists, but even so you’d struggle to find a direct competitor. The most natural would be the world’s best-selling roadster and sports car, the Mazda MX-5, but even that is way too big and expensive (a sentence no-one has ever thought to utter before).
The Smart fortwo cabriolet is likely to be the closest alternative, if not exactly sporting..Just like the original Honda Beat, this potential successor might have a market niche to itself.
In a line?
Sharp-looking Beat successor that needs to make it to production.