By on March 27, 2015


On the left, we have a Honda Beat. On the right the new Honda S660. Nearly 25 years separate the two cars, but their size has stayed roughly the same. Perhaps there is hope.

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31 Comments on “Honda S660: A Case Study In Avoiding Bloat...”

  • avatar

    It’s the same size because Kei cars have maximum allowable dimensions. They make it bigger (or put a larger engine in), it’s no longer a Kei car.

  • avatar

    Did you get right and left swapped?

  • avatar

    I can only assume Japan doesn’t make the ability to fog a mirror the only standard to get a license, so their roads aren’t clogged with people who buy the biggest vehicle they can, to be “safe” (at the expense of the rest of us).

    I mean, look at the reaction to the smart fortwo – flaws aside, every. Single. Time. It comes up, dozens of people come out, desperate to convince you it’s a tincan deathtrap, if just because it weighs less than 2000lbs (they’ll also tell you their old CRX was superior to a smart because it totally got 60mpg, all the time, honest). There is no hope for North America to fight bloat.

    • 0 avatar
      George Herbert

      The Smart ForTwo is a deathtrap because:
      1) Its light weight means that its relative velocity vector is accelerated more in an impact, compared to larger vehicles, and
      2) because it has no crumple zones to speak of so that
      a) in normal impacts the higher velocity change acts over a smaller time, increasing the occupant acceleration and injury factors doubly and
      b) impacting a large immovable object similarly results in a faster deceleration and higher occupant injury factors.

      A 1600 lb car with 2 feet of crumple zone front and a foot aft would be much better.

      It’s the combination of the two factors that makes it dangerous around much larger vehicles and at higher speeds where highway pseudo-fixed object impacts are likely.

      The safety cage is good, and the internal restraints and airbags are good, but of the four factors that save you in crashes these days (crumple that works, mass, passenger area integrity, restraint and cushioning/airbags) it only has two. Its design / size concept will never get the mass or crumple zones. Other light cars and small cars do have crumple zones, or more of a crumple zone. Every bit matters.

      • 0 avatar

        Do you think it’s any more dangerous than the S660 we’re bringing up here? I mean, similar weight, and what the Honda has in crumple zones, the smart has in Benz’s safety obsessed engineers.

        It’s close enough to a wash, I’d wager, that you’d be taking on about equal risk in an accident. Close enough that we can’t reasonably bring up the S660 as a champion against model bloat because there’s no way in hell it’d stand a chance in the North American marked with all the hand-wringing about safety. We already have a product that’s heavily unbloated, and it’s not taken seriously because of its lack of bloat.

  • avatar

    Could this not be said of the Miata as well?
    In fact, isn’t the 2016 Miata SMALLER as well as lighter?

  • avatar

    Curb weight: 3700lbs?

  • avatar

    I think I like the old one better, because it’s got straight lines and BBS mesh wheels. Hard to beat those wheels, on most anything 90s.

    I also realized the other day that the J30 was the last-ever bustleback sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      That’s more of a softtail than a bustleback, IMO. The notorious domestic bustlebacks of the early ’80s were trying to mimic the old ‘tacked-on-trunk’ styling of upscale ’30s cars.


      • 0 avatar

        Given that there was a Seville bustleback with metal simulated luggage straps, I will have to agree with your reasoning. At least the J30 stood out in the crowd (with not great build quality and reliability, and zero credit for being RWD).

    • 0 avatar

      I think they both do look very nice. The older one is definitely cleaner though. Of course, slightly smaller wheels would also help the new one in the looks department.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    As I look at the automotive landscape for the past 1/4 century, I don’t see any hope for those of us who detest bloating!

    • 0 avatar

      There’s likely to be another 1977-style reckoning the future, just wait.

      People like big cars; the only times small cars have sold is when the economy and/or regulations dictated so.

      • 0 avatar

        I think you have to rein in the comment to North America only. Europeans don’t want a huge car on their small roads. And rules like Japan’s Kei-car rule are never going away.

        In many other countries, a large car is seen as excessive and tacky – thus undesirable.

        • 0 avatar

          “I think you have to rein in the comment to North America only. Europeans don’t want a huge car on their small roads.”

          Not true; their cars are getting larger, too. They still tend to use C-segment cars, small crossovers and MPVs more than Americans do, but there are some very large cars on European roads now.

          The prime example is the Fusion/Mondeo; they’re the same car now, and they most certainly aren’t small.

          “And rules like Japan’s Kei-car rule are never going away.”

          This is true, but that’s the exception.

          “In many other countries, a large car is seen as excessive and tacky – thus undesirable.”

          I don’t think this happens much. In China, car sizes are definitely on the rise, and OEMs are opting for LWB versions of lesser-trim cars so that people can buy the size they want without showing up their superiors.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t say the Miata is bloated but compared to an old Elan it looks big.

  • avatar

    The Beat is much better-looking. The S660 looks like they outsourced the styling to Hyundai.
    That said, kudos to Honda for making interesting, fun cars. We could certainly use, say, an S1500 version of this thing over here, priced reasonably so those tempted by a Corolla or a Versa have something else to choose from.

    • 0 avatar
      Da Coyote

      “The Beat is much better-looking. The S660 looks like they outsourced the styling to Hyundai.”

      Beat me to it. The S660 has lines that scream “each one of us was drawn by someone who 1) hates cars, 2) has never been to a design class, 3) doesn’t even know who is drawing the line next to them, and 4) are relatives of Bangle.

    • 0 avatar

      The Beat was far more functionally styled.

      We know Honda does not do “outrageous” styling. So when we complain about Hondas looking too plain, they start to look like Kias. The S660 has fake inlets and vents everywhere.

  • avatar

    Kei cars will never bloat until regulations change.

    The US can only stop bloat by legislating tax brackets based on physical vehicle size.

    • 0 avatar

      Vehicle taxes are levied on a state-by-state basis, so expect zero enforcement in Texas and anything larger than a skateboard to be taxed at 200% in California.

  • avatar

    I couldn’t help but be distracted by the trees in the background, and how they remind me of Apocalypse Now. (I film I’ve never seen)


  • avatar

    I like the torpedo seat “backs” like a ’62 Thunderbird, which was old news even then – it’s a ’50s styling aberration that looked good on Jag D-Types and Mercedes 300SLR. On an S660, they merit a chuckle.

    Two Big Mac sized North Americans aren’t going to fit side by side in this thing.

  • avatar

    I thought the original Beat came out as a companion to the NSX. I guess Honda is just duplicating the same thing with the new S660 and the new NSX, both look very bloated compare to their older counterparts.

    I think Miata would be a much better example of avoiding bloat.

  • avatar

    beat was my first car I bought on the day I’ve got license.
    Came through owning and driving many serious sport cars since then, but nothing so far was more amusing to drive than this.
    Perfect weight distribution, hyper high rev engine/low geared transmission and robust no servo assistance breaks thought me everything of driving how to pull out all potential the car has.
    As been claimed, crash safety concern was the only thing I had to give up ownership.

    I am very excited for the new introduction and respect Honda’s decision to make it happen, but the 7000 rpm red zone turbo engine is question for my taste..

  • avatar

    also avoiding the boat (to the US)

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