The Honda S660 is a car on every petrolhead's Christmas card to Santa, because of the pedigree it carries, and the fact that it's only sold in Japan means that we want it even more.
However, statistically speaking, the S660 really doesn't get your pulse racing. You see, the S660 has a diddly 660cc inline-three turbocharged engine which only has 63bhp, hardly what you call impressive. I guess what's slightly more comforting is that it's the engine is placed right behind you, and drive goes to the back wheels via 6-speed manual (or a 7-speed CVT if you want to ruin it).
That said, is this a sports car after all? Honda has given it the crown jewel of all Hondas, the crown that only a Honda sports roadstar should wear: a name that starts with an 'S' and ends with the engine displacement. The first car Honda ever made, the S500 is a sports car, so is the S600 that comes after that. The S2000 that everybody lust after is a blue-blooded sports car too. So the S660 kind of has that pedigree of being a Honda sports car, because Honda has given it that name.
The name may tell one story, but how it performs tell another. The Honda S660 accelerates from 0-60 in the wrong side of the 10-second range further says it all: it really isn't a sports car.
Honda did many things to hide the fact that it really isn't a sports car: the chassis rigidity is allegedly stiffer than the S2000, and is capable of handling double what the engine makes currently. It's got four-wheel independent suspension, which is very rare for a kei car. It's also got Honda's famous ergonomical driving position, where the pedals are very close to each other, and of the same height, which makes heel-and-toe a doddle. The six-speed manual gearbox is also a dream to use, Honda actually used a double cone synchro in first and second gear, and carbon synchro in third to give it the legendary shifter feel. Albeit a Honda N-One engine, it's been re-worked to have a higher redline at 7,700rpm and a deeper oil pan to cater for the hard cornering of the S660.
Yet, those can't hide the fact that it isn't a full-fat sports car. It may be light, it may be very capable, but it's just not fast enough. You'd be lucky to break 100mph on a downhill, because by Japanese kei car laws, the S660 can only reach 87mph.
However, does the lack of power really matter? Are you really going to be put off because it doesn't have enough power?
The project leader of the S660 is a 22-year-old bloke who used to work in modelling a car with clay. He got the permission to be in-charge of the S660 because he won, of all the staff in Honda, the best idea in the company's anniversary design competition.
He said that his first car when he was 18 was an S2000, and that car, although it was a very capable car, he didn't feel like he was enjoying it much. He appreciates the connection between the car and driver, but he always thought it's the car, not him that's making the driving enjoyable. And he wants to change it.
The 63bhp kei-car engine is also part of the genius' plan, the small power would mean you can step on it all the time without worrying it would break traction, because it simply couldn't. You can't physically drift the car in bends thanks to the little power and the grippy Advan Neovas all round. It was all planned.
So is the S660 a sports car? No. But it doesn't really matter. It makes you smile, the feeling of “you're in control” makes this one of the best cars to ever come out of Honda's factory, right behind the NSX-R, the S2000 and the Civic and Integra Type Rs, that's what matters. Sod the naming, we get a great car, that alone is worthy of a grand round of applause.