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Does Honda need another performance car?
Honda boss tells TopGear about its future sporting range
Amid rumours of a Honda S2000 replacement, Honda’s CEO Takahiro Hachigo has been talking about the company’s future sporting range.
“We have the NSX and we have the Civic Type R and the S660 in Japan. We want to enhance that range further. Our sales regions around the world want more sports cars. We are considering the possibilities, but we have no specific plans yet.”
What about the four-motor electric prototype TopGear drove the other day? He says he has driven the car, and liked it, but he adds that there are cost and range hurdles to be overcome. “We would like to see it mass produced. I hope its engineers come up with technologies suitable for mass production. I can’t say when but I would personally like to see the day.”
Still, even if he won’t be launching any extra sports cars, he does say the current ones will be fixtures in the range and replaced in due time. I ask him if it was a good idea to have left such a gap between the old NSX and this one, and another gap between Civic Type R versions, and to have dropped the S2000.
“I believe continuity is needed to build a brand,” he answers. “I’d like to cherish the NSX and Civic Type R and S660, and continue them.”
Good. The company is about to sell a limited batch of Civic Type Rs, made in Swindon, in Japan. And we know from other Honda sources that there will be a five-door Type R version of the next Civic, using the same 2.0-litre turbo engine.
But could the S660 go the other way, and set sail from Japan to Europe? Hachigo says that this would require many changes to meet legislation and he doesn’t know if there is a business case.
Another possibility for a new very limited-run Honda sports car is the Project 2&4 trackday special. This uses the V4 engine brakes and other parts from the RC213V, Marc Márquez’s championship-winning MotoGP bike.
It was on show again in Tokyo, after first appearing in Frankfurt. At the moment the prototype doesn’t run, so no-one can enjoy its 215bhp and 14,000rpm. But the men responsible say they are continuing its development.
We asked designer Martin Petersson if it can be made crash-safe, and he admitted there have been no tests. “It’s a huge challenge. One of the things to do next. It’s a tough one.”
So if he wants it to go to production, could it be made with a cheaper engine? The roadgoing version of the RC213V is £137,000, after all. So you’d expect if they made the Project 2&4 as it is, it could top £200k. Honda does make many cheaper V4s, and cheaper gearboxes, and cheaper brakes.
Unsurprisingly he doesn’t want to dumb it down. “We want to make it the best it can be, with the best parts we have. That bike has sold out. People would rather buy a low-volume high-price machine from Honda than from, with respect, one of the tiny British track-day car companies. We have so much engineering expertise.”
So, does Honda need another sports car? A new S2000, an electric car, the 2&4, or something else entirely? Come on internet, use the box below to guide the undecided Honda boss to a conclusion.