Rear-engine, rear-drive cars are few and far between, limited mostly to excellent things like the Porsche 911, and terrible things like the VW Karmann Ghia and Chevrolet Corvair. But there’s another car with an “RR” configuration that’s a bit more obscure. Presenting the Suzuki SC100.
I’m a glutton, and a glutton for punishment. I’m larger than most men, at around six-feet-four-inches tall and weighing between 260 and 280 pounds depending on the time of day, moon phase, and proximity to the nearest good buffet.
And yet, I love small cars.
I own, and once daily-drove, an early Miata. Mind you, I carved foam out of the seat and equipped it with a smaller steering wheel so I could steer without removal of my legs or other sensitive bits — but I do fit. My win-the-lottery wish list has just as many four-cylinder cars as bigger-engined vehicles combined.
So, when looking at models that are becoming eligible for import under the 25-year-rule, naturally, I looked East.
Toyota on Thursday released a preview of what to expect on its stand at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month and it’s all sorts of steampunk and futuristic weirdness, but more on that in a moment.
While the Scion FR-S isn’t flying off dealer lots here in North America, the Japanese seem to like their compact sports coupes. The S-FR, according to Toyota is ” a lightweight, sporty concept offering a fun, responsive driving experience” and slots below the Toyobaru twins and go head-to-head with the Honda S660 kei sports that America won’t get because of course we won’t.
Honda may bring its small, two-seater S660 to the United States, Edmunds is reporting.
The car, which is much smaller than Mazda’s MX-5 Miata and categorized in Japan in the “kei” class, is powered there by a small, 660cc turbocharged three-cylinder.
In case you’re not picking up what I’m putting down: the S660 would be fantastically tiny on American roads.
Nissan and Mitsubishi today presented their jointly developed, but separately badged and marketed kei car to an amazingly large contingent of the Japanese press. TTAC readers are quite familiar with the car(s). They have watched the Nissan DAYZ and its Mitsubishi siblings, the eK Wagon and eK Custom on its first day of production at Mitsubishi’s plant in Mizushima, near Hiroshima, more than two weeks ago. Today, the car arrived in Tokyo.
Today’s Nikkei [sub] puts forth an interesting thought: Dependence on big pick-ups distracts the Detroit 3 on a global basis. Now, tiny kei cars could do the same to the Japanese. Writes the Nikkei:
“Part of the reason the Big Three U.S. automakers lost their international dominance is because they lagged foreign carmakers in implementing global strategies by clinging to large pickup trucks, which only do well in the U.S.”
We have been saying for quite a while that Honda looks a bit pale around the nose. The Nikkei [sub] agrees. According to the Tokyo business paper, Honda blew it by relying too much on the U.S. market, by ignoring the emerging markets, and by disregarding the fact that Japan has a love affair with 0.6 liter midget-mobiles, a.k.a. kei cars. All of this has to change in a hurry, and Honda’s turn-around hinges on the success of a new kei car, the N Box. Says The Nikkei:
Subminiature, or „kei“ cars ( from kei-jidosha – subcompact cars) have been a Japanese phenomenon. At one time, their combined share was 1/3 of Japan’s market. Unlike anime and Pokemon, the 660 cc vehicles never much made it beyond Japan’s shores. And recently, the sales of the pocket monsters on wheels had been flagging. Last February, the little critters had recorded their first rise rise after 15 months of going down – by a hair of 0.7 percent.
According to today’s Nikkei [sub], “improvements in hybrid and electric technology are dulling the fuel-efficiency edge that minivehicles have long had over larger cars. To maintain their advantage, makers of minis are putting their autos on diets, shaving weight wherever they can to eke out better gas mileage.”
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