Eastern Car Culture Japan is back. Almost / #Honda-S660
Gambare Nippon! Seriously, this is the perfect slogan that can be applied to the current Japanese car situation, meaning “good luck Japan.” There has been a certain feeling of vagueness in the cars that the land of the rising sun has churned out over the last decade. For a while there I really thought it was well and truly over, but every once in a while, a domestic manufacturer would surprise me and again I would muscle up some faith. Despite the at-times complete lack of coherency, direction and innovation that manufacturers here subject us to, I am now sitting here in front of my laptop smiling because I’ve just gotten out of a car that has finally given me real hope for the future. As I continue to be amazed, praise and lust over cars from Europe and the US, Japan has left me dry-mouthed for far too long – but not today. I’ve just spent a week driving the ridiculously tiny, impressively inexpensive and amazingly fun manual version of the Honda S660 and I can’t help but think that among CVT-driven, hybrid-enhanced boxes on wheels, Japan may have found its mojo, again.
With the launch of turbocharged Civic Type-R and the new-generation NSX there is nothing but goodness coming from what was once a great maker of true driver’s cars. And it’s about bloody time Honda! If the S660 is anything to go by, the DNA is once again becoming true to the brand, because I haven’t enjoyed myself like this behind the wheel of a new car for a while. The spiritual successor to the Beat does everything so right, it doesn’t attempt to be something it isn’t – it stays perfectly true to its calling and that is to be a fun, very affordable micro-sports car. From the responsive and torque-full low-rpm delivery, the wooshes of the blow off valve and the precise and beautifully mechanical feeling 6-speed transmission the S660 makes even the most mundane of journeys into fun-filled excursions.
64bhp might sound lethargic at best, but the S660 requires its driver to use momentum accordingly; forget the brakes, use all of the monstrous grip that the Advan Neova AD08R develop and take corners way faster than you could ever think possible. Plus as you can imagine the aftermarket is quickly beginning to cater for this little pocket rocket and in no time we’ll be seeing turbo kits that will double and triple the engine’s output. So good on ya Honda, the NSX is another one I certainly can’t omit despite not having sampled it yet, not to mention the rumored S2000. And by the looks of it Nissan may have awoken too, with the new twin-turbo V6s they are dropping in their cars now. There’s certainly a new wave of excitement coming from Japan and I can’t wait to see what it brings!