Honda’s tiny new S660 sports car has made its market debut in Japan this week, following its first appearance as a concept at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.
Reviving the spirit of the popular Beat roadster of the 90s and the legendary S600 of the 60s, the new S660 debuts as just the latest offering in Japan’s compact ‘Kei’ category.
Just 3395mm long, 1457mm wide and 1180mm tall, the S660 rides on a 2285mm wheelbase.
Short overhangs mean that while the S660 is a significant 520mm shorter overall than the new Mazda MX-5, its wheelbase is only 30mm shorter.
As is required by Japan’s ‘kei jid?sha’ (light automobile) regulations, the S660 is driven by a 660cc turbocharged engine, mounted mid-ship, producing just 47kW and 104Nm of torque.
The engine is shared with other Honda-badged kei cars, but the 830kg two-seat S660 boasts a whole new platform designed specifically to help the new roadster live up to its sporting looks.
Honda says that around 67 percent of the S660’s body is made from lightweight high-tensile steel, promising greater stiffness than its regular kei cars and a roughly 100kg lower kerb weight than the N-Box hatch.
The S660 boasts a 45:55 weight front-rear weight distribution, and power is sent to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or CVT auto transmission.
Performance and fuel numbers are yet to be revealed.
Small it may be, but the little roadster is not short on safety tech. It comes with Vehicle Stability Assist, City-Brake Active System, reinforced front and centre rollover pillars and front/side airbags all packed in as standard.
The S660 goes on sale in Japan from April, priced locally from 1.98 million yen - around $21,480 in Australian dollars.
The new roadster isn’t expected to get a global debut in its launch form, although it is understood that a more powerful 1.0 litre ‘S1000’ model formed part of its development plan, opening the door to a wider western launch.
That model, reportedly capable of between 75 and 95kW, would make for a fair rival to Mazda’s MX-5.
As an affordable and irrepressibly cheerful mid-engined sporty convertible, the S660 could be just what Honda needs to get to restore some of its long-lost mojo.