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Honda S660 concept: is small the new big?

It’s turning into a good week for tiny-engined sports things. This morning we drove the Caterham Seven 160, and now Honda has revealed its compact offering for next month’s Tokyo motorshow: the S660 concept.

Cute, isn’t it? Honda hasn’t revealed details yet, but that name would suggest the two-seat roadster is powered by a 660cc engine, in line with Japan’s stringent kei car regulations. Sure, it’s small, but as the little Caterham and – for those with longer memories - the Smart Roadster prove, you don’t need a big block to have fun.

If the S660 is intended to qualify for kei car status, that mean it’s every bit as dinky as it looks. Kei cars must be shorter than 340cm in length: the current Mazda MX-5, for comparison, measures 402cm from bumper to bumper. Even the thankfully-now-dead Renault Wind spanned a gargantuan 387cm.

It could prove a worthy successor to the lovely Honda Beat of the early 90s, a kei roadster that made use of every last drop of its modest 63bhp (and which even Clarkson praised in his “big hair” era). That said, the original Beat had a simple five-speed manual, while the presence of steering wheel paddles and absence of gearstick would suggest the S660 gets an auto box. Shame.

Even so, we’re looking forward to a closer poke around the S660 at the Tokyo show. Are we witnessing a brave new era of small, modestly powered, relevant sports cars?

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