Reviving Nostalgia: Exploring the Unique Charm of the Discontinued Honda S660

The Honda S660 is a small kei car that arrived in the Japanese market for the 2015 model year and was later discontinued in 2022.

The S660 came about while Honda was on a mission to bring sportiness and fun back to its personality. During the middle part of the last decade, Honda added a new Acura NSX and Civic Type R and quickly became a trusted Formula 1 engine supplier. The S660 carries the Honda name forward in the kei car market as a fantastic successor to the Beat roadster that was popular on Japanese streets in the early 1990s.

The right layout for a sports car

The S660 brought the same personality as the Beat to the road with its mid-engine layout. This small car used a 660-cc three-cylinder turbocharged engine, hence the name. This means it fits in the kei car market in Japan as a smaller than subcompact car. When this little Honda car came into existence, the plan was to create a larger model with a more powerful engine and bring it to the United States, but that never happened. Still, this little car was a great addition to the Japanese market at the time.

An in-house contest gave us this Honda

The Honda S660 has an attractive sports car design that resulted from a contest held at Honda. More than 400 engineers submitted ideas for this new vehicle, with the S660 design coming out on top. The car that entered production and became part of the fun on Japanese roads looked nearly identical to the concept model from 2013, which was a good sign. The mid-engine RWD chassis was built only for this little Honda, making it extremely unique. This build gives the car an aluminum and steel structure that is stiffer than the old Honda S2000.

The structure was made to take a lot more power than the 660-cc engine produced. This small engine delivered 63 horsepower, but this car could come with a 1.0-liter engine that produced 125 horsepower to make it twice as powerful and a lot more fun to drive. The rigidity of the chassis can be felt by the driver in high-speed corners and during hard braking.

A lightweight car that doesn’t need a lot of power

This small and impressive Honda S660 tipped the scales at only 1,830 pounds. Using the turbocharged three-cylinder engine, the S660 gives drivers impressive acceleration and midrange torque. The redline was raised to 7,700 rpm to make it faster and more capable. The deeper oil pan allows this little car to cope with higher g-forces during cornering and braking. This little Honda spools up power and performance to get the most out of this small engine.

The shifter gives the driver a great feeling. Honda gives the S660 a six-speed manual transmission with short throws to ensure the gear ratios are adequate and ideal for the drive. The pedals are perfectly placed, and the light clutch makes it easy for this car to handle high-performance driving.

Turns made sharper with the right tech

Although this little Honda has been discontinued, it brought driving tech that made it an instant success in the kei car class. The Agile Handling Assist system allows this car to brake the inside front wheel to enhance turn-in and cornering stability. The tires added traction and grip, making it nearly impossible to lose control while driving.

This little car offers neutral driving, which could be a negative for some drivers. The Honda S660 has a traction control system that can’t be turned off, meaning there’s no oversteer to play with, but it also doesn’t have any understeer either. The S660 rides on 13.8-inch wheels, making it a small car on a small set of wheels.

A cabin right for most drivers

Although the S660 is a kei car, it has a cabin that’s comfortable enough for a six-foot two-inch driver to feel at ease behind the wheel. The large tachometer gives this car a sporty tone, while the dash-mounted screen gives displays and readings drivers can enjoy.

Honda S660 Specs

The actual specs of this small Honda Kei car are:

  • 40 cu-in, 658-cc engine
  • 63 horsepower
  • 77 lb-ft of torque
  • 0-60 mph: 13.2 seconds
  • Top Speed: 87 mph

While not built for outright quickness and speed, the Honda S660 provided fun and active driving while it was part of the Japanese kei car market. Although you would have to travel to Japan to drive it, the S660 could be a great choice if you want a small, fun rental car during your vacation.

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