Not the NSX – what is this mid-engined Honda?
Honda's much-delayed NSX and tinyS660 have this year marked the firm’s first venture back into theworld of mid-engined cars since the first-generation NSX and Beat ofthe 1990s – and these patents hint that there may be more to come.
The CAD images reveal designs for a newmid-engined concept car that’s yet to appear at any shows. Styledin Honda’s American studio, the design appears to be for a car that’sslightly smaller than the technological tour-de-force that is theNSX, with styling that borrows cues from both the NSX and the S660.
There’s certainly space betweenHonda’s two other mid-motored offerings; the S660 gets by on just63 bhp (47 kW) from its 660 cc three-cylinder turbo engine, while the new NSXpromises 550 bhp (410 kW) from a combination of a twin-turbo 3500 cc V6 andthree electric motors. And with no mainstream sports car offeringsince the demise of the much-missed S2000, it’s easy to see why thefirm might be considering creating something to rival the likes ofPorsche’s Boxster and Cayman while the NSX targets higher-end carslike the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.
Given Honda’s recent re-entry toFormula 1, troubled though it has been so far, and the launches ofthe NSX, S660 and new Civic Type R, it’s clear that the firm hasgot its sights set on regaining an image for high-performance cars,something that it once had but which has been allowed to wither inrecent years.
At the moment the designs you see hereare clearly a long way from a production reality. Details like thetiny, stylized mirrors and the door shut-lines that cut into thefront wheel arches are typical concept car elements that are unlikelyto appear on a production machine. If this car gets a debut, it’slikely to be as a concept, with any decision on production a long wayoff. But the S660 and NSX both appeared as concepts long beforereaching production, and both still look virtually identical to theoriginal 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 besliced off without severely affecting the rest of the car’sappearance.
At the back, the massive air intakes and outlets, alongwith a prominent fuel filler, make it clear that there’s a petrolengine hiding under there, although given the technology on the NSXan additional hybrid system can’t be ruled out, perhaps usingelectric power to drive the front wheels while the engine deals withthe rears.
If the car’s size is, as it appears,positioned between the S660 and NSX, then a four-cylinder turboengine of around 2000-2500cc would make sense. The latest CivicType-R engine, with 306bhp from 2000cc, could be the perfect choice.
In the nearer future, Honda isdeveloping a faster version of the S660 for export markets thataren’t restricted by Japan’s Kei car rules. Where the Kei versionis limited to 63 bhp and 660 cc, the export car is expected to have a1000 cc turbo engine with 127 bhp, and to use the S1000 name, which inturn harks back to the 1960s S500, S600 and S800 as well as the morerecent S2000.