Honda’s mi­cro-supercar is un­like any­thing we’ve driven be­fore

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Jim Gorde Pho­tog­ra­phy: Honda and Jim Gorde

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.

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