Not the NSX – what is this mid-engined Honda?
Honda's much-delayed NSX and tiny S660 have this year marked the firm’s first venture back into the world of mid-engined cars since the first-generation NSX and Beat of the 1990s – and these patents hint that there may be more to come.
The CAD images reveal designs for a new mid-engined concept car that’s yet to appear at any shows. Styled in Honda’s American studio, the design appears to be for a car that’s slightly smaller than the technological tour-de-force that is the NSX, with styling that borrows cues from both the NSX and the S660.
There’s certainly space between Honda’s two other mid-motored offerings; the S660 gets by on just 63 bhp (47 kW) from its 660 cc three-cylinder turbo engine, while the new NSX promises 550 bhp (410 kW) from a combination of a twin-turbo 3500 cc V6 and three electric motors. And with no mainstream sports car offering since the demise of the much-missed S2000, it’s easy to see why the firm might be considering creating something to rival the likes of Porsche’s Boxster and Cayman while the NSX targets higher-end cars like the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.
Given Honda’s recent re-entry to Formula 1, troubled though it has been so far, and the launches of the NSX, S660 and new Civic Type R, it’s clear that the firm has got its sights set on regaining an image for high-performance cars, something that it once had but which has been allowed to wither in recent years.
At the moment the designs you see here are clearly a long way from a production reality. Details like the tiny, stylized mirrors and the door shut-lines that cut into the front wheel arches are typical concept car elements that are unlikely to appear on a production machine. If this car gets a debut, it’s likely to be as a concept, with any decision on production a long way off. But the S660 and NSX both appeared as concepts long before reaching production, and both still look virtually identical to the original show car versions.
While this car appears to be a hardtop, the scope for a targa roof or even a full convertible is clear thanks to the blacked-out roof section which could easily be sliced off without severely affecting the rest of the car’s appearance.
At the back, the massive air intakes and outlets, along with a prominent fuel filler, make it clear that there’s a petrol engine hiding under there, although given the technology on the NSX an additional hybrid system can’t be ruled out, perhaps using electric power to drive the front wheels while the engine deals with the rears.
If the car’s size is, as it appears, positioned between the S660 and NSX, then a four-cylinder turbo engine of around 2000-2500cc would make sense. The latest Civic Type-R engine, with 306bhp from 2000cc, could be the perfect choice.
In the nearer future, Honda is developing a faster version of the S660 for export markets that aren’t restricted by Japan’s Kei car rules. Where the Kei version is limited to 63 bhp and 660 cc, the export car is expected to have a 1000 cc turbo engine with 127 bhp, and to use the S1000 name, which in turn harks back to the 1960s S500, S600 and S800 as well as the more recent S2000.