Rumors of a successor to the Honda Beat Kei car were confirmed when the Honda S660 concept bowed at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, and now the production Honda S660 roadster goes on sale this week in Japan, the automaker announced. Like the Beat, the new S660 is a compact roadster with a mid-engine, rear-drive setup.
Honda will also sell a special-edition model to commemorate the launch of the new two-seat roadster. The Honda S660 Concept Edition will be limited to just 660 units. The S660 Concept Edition comes exclusively in Premium Star White Pearl with genuine leather and Luxe Suede seating material. The driver’s seat is light gray, while the passenger seat is dark gray. Other S660 models are available in six exterior colors and leather or fabric seats.
The development team designed the new Honda S660 roadster with the phrase “Heart Beat Sport” in mind. The production goal was to develop “a full-fledged sports car” with “excitement and a heart-throbbing experience” that strives “to realize the joy of driving.”
With its mid-engine, rear-drive layout, the S660 offers a lower center of gravity and a 45/55 front/rear weight distribution, according to Honda. The roadster is said to have a rigid and lightweight body. A new Agile Handling Assist electronic control system uses brake torque to maximize handling.
Power comes from a turbocharged 660-cc (0.66-liter) three-cylinder engine mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT with sport mode, paddle shifters, and seven simulated gears. Honda didn’t release engine power figures, but we've heard it's in the neighborhood of 63 hp (64 ps). The intake and exhaust as well as the turbocharger and blow-off valve were tuned for a sports car sound, according to Honda.
Special attention was paid to the driver’s seating position and the ergonomics of the vehicle controls to give it a go kart-like feel. Other interior highlights include automatic climate control with mid-mounted vents and leather seating with leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The rear glass can be operated independently from the detachable soft-top.
Although it shares its mid-engine, rear-drive setup with the early-1990s Honda Beat, the S660 name harkens back to the original front-engine, rear-drive S600 and S800 roadsters from the 1960s as well as the more recent S2000 roadster.
While we don’t expect the Honda S660 roadster to make it to our shores, rumors suggest a third mid-engine sports car, which would slot between the S660 and Acura NSX, could make it here as a replacement for the S2000.