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Honda’s S660 Concept heralds a lighter, smaller sports car


Ever since the departure of the Honda S2000 in 2009, fans of the Japanese automaker on these shores have waited in vain for Honda to reclaim the affordable sports-car mantle it once held dear. After a calculated retreat from such models toward hybrids, Honda has shown small signs of moving back to the future — from powering the Formula 1 cars of McLaren next year to the upcoming Acura NSX revival. And at next month's Tokyo Motor Show, it will reveal the car above, the S660 Concept. It's a peek at a car Honda will likely build in Japan next year, but it's specs make a U.S. visa challenging.

The roadster concept follows plans that Honda has laid out for a drop-top model, similar in vein to the EV-STER concept shown two years ago in Tokyo. That model was electric powered, but the S660 concept uses a tiny 660 cc, three-cylinder turbocharged gas engine that churns out all of 67 hp to the front wheels. While Honda hasn't released full specs, the S660 does apparently weigh less than 2,000 lbs., and the interior shots show off carbon-fiber accents and other touches aimed at saving weight.

A production car with those specs might offer some spirited handling, but would need a diminutive price — and a roof — to compete on these shores. The hint of its future may lie in Honda's description of the S660 as a "sports-type mini-vehicle," which suggests a model meant to stand out among Japanese Kei cars rather than carving the Tail of the Dragon. We should get more answers next month about whether Honda fans will need more patience still.