The Honda S660 is the rear-wheel-drive mid-engined convertible sports car that most of the world has never heard of. Built specifically for the Japanese market, this tiny roadster is designed to comply with Kei car legislation. This means designers had strict limitations on vehicle size, engine displacement and power output for the car to earn a yellow license plate and the related low tax and insurance.
The Honda S660 follows in the path of the popular Beat, with a three-cylinder turbocharged 660cc (40 cu in) engine mounted over the rear wheels, attractive bodywork and a two-seat layout. An aluminium and steel sub-frame that is very rigid yet lightweight was designed specifically for this car. The result is a roadster that is attractive, highly agile and fun to drive with a sporty redline of 7,700rpm despite lacking the performance usually expected of a sports car. Handling is improved by use of ‘Agile Handling Assist’ system that can add braking to the inside front wheel to assist high-speed cornering.
Aimed at young people looking for fun city transport that remains inexpensive and easy to park, the S660 has proved equally popular with an older generation who enjoyed the car’s predecessors such as the S500 Roadster in their youth.
The interior is much better finished than the spartan Beat and features a choice of a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) or a particularly nice short throw manual transmission. Cabin space is surprisingly good although there isn’t much allowance for luggage. The fabric roof is manually operated and tucks away out of sight in the boot.
A more powerful 1-litre version of the car for export markets was hinted but the business case didn’t add up and it remains a Japanese domestic market car only.