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Honda Sees Return to Roots in S660

15 Avril 2015 - Automotive News

Honda Sees Return to Roots in S660

The Honda S660 mini sports roadster that went on sale in Japan this month may never be sold in the U.S., but could presage Honda's sports cars of the future.

The S660 is the product of a unique development gambit meant to infuse the company's global r&d center with youthful creativity and inculcate the next generation of engineers in the sporty heritage Honda prides itself on.

Indeed, the car's mastermind, 26-year-old Ryo Mukomoto, beat out hundreds of rivals in a concept competition to be awarded leadership of the project and became the company's youngest-ever chief engineer.

The S660 gives Honda a spiritual successor to the iconic Beat minicar that, while never sold in the U.S., got lots of attention around the world. The Beat pioneered the low and wide stance, open cockpit and side air intakes that are key design features of the S660. It was produced from 1991 to 1996 and sold only in Japan.

But Mukomoto said he opted for a midship rear-wheel-drive layout -- unlike the Beat -- to ensure a low front nose with "supercar proportions."

Like the Beat, the S660 is designed to meet the stringent size and engine-displacement rules of Japan's unique minicar segment.

Those cars, which are restricted to engines no bigger than 660cc, account for about 40 percent of the domestic market, thanks largely to tax advantages over bigger cars.

The S660 is priced starting ¥1.98 million ($16,630), including tax.

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