Most of you will know that Kei cars aren’t the most rapid vehicles on the road. Short for Keijidōsha – which translates to light automobile – the category was created in 1949 as a Japanese post-war initiative to build inexpensive, affordable, and tiny cars. While the majority of automobiles in this segment are lukewarm at best, it has produced greats like the Honda S660 – which will unfortunately be discontinued.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced on March 12, 2021, that it will discontinue production of the S660 in March of 2022. Sad news, followed by the swan-song version of the S660. So what makes this original example so special?
Development began with a product planning proposal to pitch a car that would celebrate the 50th anniversary of Honda’s R & D department. Released in 2015, the sporty convertible aimed to realize the joy of driving. Power comes from a mid-mounted turbocharged 658cc three-cylinder engine putting out 63 horsepower (47 kilowatts). Thankfully, unlike the standard models, these ponies are fed through a six-speed manual rather than a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
While there is a lot of speculation that Honda had to pull the plug because of tighter emissions requirements, the reasoning behind the decision is still unclear. The difficulties associated with adding an automatic emergency braking feature have also been talked about as a possible issue. Neither theory has been supported by the Japanese automaker, but the fact remains that the S660 will be no more.
Pricing for the latest model starts at ¥3,150,400 ($28,898 at current exchange rates). As it will likely never be available in the United States, this marks a departure from bespoke sports models for Honda in many areas of the world. It’s hard to say if these regulations will spell the end of the Kei car, but things aren’t looking promising.