Honda’s micro-supercar is unlike anything we’ve driven before
WHAT WAS I DOING when I was 27? Not racing, for sure. I was sketching and doodling cars and writing about them. However, a certain Ryo Mukomoto, at that age, was busy creating a car that he says would match the fun factor of bigger, more expensive cars. That vision — and, of course, support from Honda — meant that the new car would soon be an exciting reality.
A spiritual replacement for the Honda Beat, drawing inspiration from the classic S2000, a highrevving tuner car made popular in drift culture and in several videogames, the S660 aims to recreate the magic associated with small sports cars that don’t cost the Earth. How does it go about doing that? For starters, it’s a kei car — light vehicle in Japan exempt from several regulations because of size — and that means it has a tiny engine and weighs next to nothing. That sounds interesting, but yet not engaging. But the S660 adds three more aspects to the idea: a turbocharger, a coupé-roadster body style, and an extremely low centre of gravity. Besides, the engine is
mounted in the middle, behind the driver and powers the rear wheels. If that doesn’t spell out exciting, I don’t know what does.
It’s not like it’s devoid of anything. It has a sculpted body, LED projector headlamps, and snazzy mixed wheels with adequate tyres — 165/55 R15 front and 195/45 R16 rear. It measures just 3,395 millimetres long and tips the scales at 850 kg. Power comes from the mid-transverse, three-cylinder in-line S07A motor displacing 658 cc, strapped with a turbocharger. That means 64 PS and 104 Nm. Doesn’t sound like much, even after all the explanations. We were sceptical, too. Of course, nothing like a drive on a track to convince us.
Being just 125 mm off the ground, means the feeling of sitting low is akin to that of a go-kart. There isn’t much elbow room and everything falls into place perfectly. It wasn’t a tight fit for me, rather a sort of tailored fit, and that’s great. Off we went.
The exhaust note raises hairs and widens eyes and the initial surge of acceleration, though not epic, still brings a smile. Then came the first turn and a long right-hander. Smile plastered! The S660 turns in with ease and sticks to the tarmac. It’s precise and quick, nimble and energetic and feels like a flea on steroids with you in the saddle. The open roof, the G-meter on the info console, the sounds from the engine — inches from the back of my head, and driving the rear wheels — are all major stimulating factors, and the little car urges you to push and find the limits of its grip. Even with the CVT automatic, it was still so much fun, coaxing you to throw it around sideways. The just-adequate tyres do a great job of keeping the car planted and in line, while the low centre of gravity delivers some much-needed exhilaration in the corners and on the exit. What truly astounds is how well the S660 captures the essence of driving. It provides a soulful experience and that is something which — some of the time — all the money in the world can’t buy.
Some quick laps later, I got out – very reluctantly – and bid goodbye to one of the best, most engaging cars I’ve driven of late. It’s not the fastest, not the quickest, probably not even the best-looking, and, with the 25-litre tank, isn’t going very far either, but those are all beside the point. This is a car that was simply created to be driven and thoroughly enjoyed. And, for that alone, it’s a winner.