Am I too old to drive a Honda S660? Is it time to admit that I should be arming myself with Lexus brochures rather than contemplating a midlife crisis with a Japanese kei car?
Until yesterday, the Honda S660 was a car I could only view from afar. A tiny, rear-wheel drive, mid-engined fun size Honda NSX that’s full of eastern promise but officially off limits to westerners.
It was a late arrival to the Haynes breakfast meet, but the little S660 was a big attraction. Few people diverted their eyes from the Honda as a Ferrari 590 GTO sauntered past. A pair of McLarens were rendered null and void by the diminutive tearaway with a 660cc engine.
I can’t remember the last time a car left such a huge impression on me. Maybe it was my first passenger ride in a Ford Racing Puma, which led to a purchase of said car just a few months later. Perhaps it was the sight of a Capri 2.8i as I made my way to school back in the last century.
Whatever, I’ve fallen for this Japanese slice of forbidden fruit. You might be surprised to discover that it’s one of eight Honda S660s in the UK, with this 2016 example imported and sold by Torque GT.
I understand it cost £15,000, which is a small price to pay for a car that attracts a bigger crowd than a McLaren and looks like an NSX that has shrunk in the wash. Let’s remember, you can’t get a new Ford Fiesta for less than £16,000 these days, and the cheapest Mazda MX-5 costs £23,795, which is about £4,000 more than I thought.
You have to accept one or two compromises. The accommodation would be classed as ‘bijou’ in estate agent lingo, the ‘frunk’ is large enough for the folding roof and little else, and the 63hp engine is miniscule in an era of 300hp hot hatches.
Oh, and although it’s economical, thanks to its tiny 25-litre fuel tank you’ll be spending more time at your local BP Connect than Alan Partridge.
But let’s look at the positives. It takes up half a parking space, so you’ll be doing your bit for city centre congestion. It’s blessed with a brilliant gear knob, because nobody does brilliant knobs quite like Honda. It also looks a million yen.
It also has an ability to upstage cars costing ten times the price and with ten times the performance. I should know, because I saw the Honda S660 effect with my own eyes.
Thanks to the generosity of the owner, I know that I can fit – just. It might be a squeeze with the roof up, and I sense that I will get cramp in my left leg whenever I change gear, but these are small prices to pay for a car that, from what I’ve read online, is a riot to drive.
Just looking at the Honda S660 makes me smile, so I can only imagine what it would be like to own one. Right now, it’s a miniature hero – and you know what they say about meeting your heroes…