Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat; you don’t need this car. In fact, I’d be bold enough to even say that it’s NOT a car, per se. Well yes it is, insofar as it has four-wheels and an engine (at the back no less), but for all intents and purposes, the new Honda S660 is not a car…
Before you start wondering what brand of glue I’ve been sniffing, allow me to explain. In its purest sense, a ‘car’ is a means of personal transport, acquired to get its owner(s) from A to B, with as little fuss as possible. Truth be told, a Proton Saga or Perodua Axia would perform this daily task admirably.
But then there’s also a small realm in the car world occupied by cars that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but remain extremely lustworthy. Enter the Honda S660. If first-impressions are anything to go by, I have to admit that the first time I walked up to the car when my number was called, I wasn’t too sure. Oh yeah the car looks really brilliant in the metal, what I wasn’t sure about is if I would fit.
Memories of getting stuck in a Bufori came rushing back – for the record they had to remove the roof of the Bufori for me to get in, and once they fit it back on, I couldn’t get out – as I opened the door. Trepidation soon gave way to relief when I discovered that the S660 is a lot bigger on the inside than what it looks like from the outside. In typical Honda ‘Man Maximum, Machine Minimum’ fashion, the diminutive S660, as unbelievable as it sounds, was able to accommodate my 6’2” frame, comfortably.
The Automotive Gods must have been having quite a chuckle when my passenger door opened to reveal my drive ‘partner’ for the test-ride; quite possibly the second biggest guy in the world of Malaysian Motoring Journalism (above)… I distinctly heard muffled laughter from the assembled Honda staff and media alike, as these two gargantuan post-Neanderthal beings got in and attempted to drive-off.
Fully expecting the little S660 to sputter and die an embarrassingly horrible death five-feet from the start line, or at the very least fall apart at the first corner from the sheer weight it was being tasked to shuffle along, I was yet again pleasantly surprised to the contrary. Thankfully we’d been assigned the 6-speed manual variant (I’m quite sure the CVT-equipped model would have imploded under the strain, leaving behind a trail of CVT belt shards) and my oh my, what a little corker it turned out to be.
Its tuned and turbocharged in-line 3-cyl, DOHC 658cc engine may be puny (I’ve cut grass with bigger engine’d lawnmowers in the States) but it packs a pretty decent punch. The revs climb very rapidly as expected, while the short-throw close-ratio gearbox snicks in an out of gears with the crispness reminiscent of the S2000. For the record it’s a common misconception that the S660 is a replacement for the S2000, but it isn’t.
Darting from corner to curve, the S660 exhibits the kind of sure-footed nimbleness and agility that’s fully expected of a roadster from Honda, and it has more than enough power to keep things interesting. It’s a very high-revving engine that’s housed below that gorgeous clam-shell rear bonnet (above), with 64Ps coming in at 6,000rpm, and 104Nm of torque at 2,600rpm. It’s extremely light, and not something I’d want to drive outstation with, however, thanks to its small engine, it’s able to return 24km/L, if driven normally. The thing is though, it’s damn near impossible to drive this thing ‘normally’.
Nope, this car simply begs to be driven as though its arse-end was on fire, all the time. And while I didn’t get the chance to try out the CVT-equipped variant (above), I’ll make a judgment call and venture that anyone who buys it rather than the manual should be shot. Twice.
We were only allocated two laps of the test-circuit but I can honestly say that after just a few corners of the first lap, I was totally at home with the S660. It grows on you pretty fast and before you know it, it feels like you’ve owned it for years. I can only salivate at the prospect of wringing its neck on a tight and twisty road like the one going up Berjaya Hills, top-down no less.
But back to the question at hand; two actually: One, do you need a car like the S660, and two, is it coming here in the first place? Well, as I mentioned before, the S660 sits in a realm where few cars reside. Yes, it can be used as a daily commuter (there’s even a CVT variant for that, shudder), just as how a Lotus Elise technically can as well.
However, even by the S660 designer Ryo Mukumoto’s own admission (above), it’s not a car for everyone. It’s the kind of car you buy for fun. So in essence, it’s a toy. “I designed the S660 to appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers, regardless of age. This car should appeal to someone in their 20’s, as well as people at retirement age” he said. Well, it’s safe to say that Ryo-San and Honda have done exactly that.
As to the next question on its availability in M’sia in the future, unfortunately, we can’t ‘confirm or deny’ the possibility of the S660 making it here in 2016, albeit in limited numbers. Still, I personally reckon if HMSB did bring in 20 units, in both manual and CVT guise, they’d sell out in a week. That’s not blind optimism, there’s just something about this car, you don’t need it, you’ll just really, really want it. – Chris Wee.
Honda S660 Photo Gallery…