Small, Rear-Drive, Mid-Engine Roadster on the Drawing Board
The Honda S2000 was recently killed and the Honda Beat 660cc minicar of 1991 all but forgotten, but in a strange comeback story, they both may live again -- fused into the one car. We have just caught word from a source close to Honda that the company is busy at work 'molding' the two together in a radical new project that is taking shape inside the halls of Tochigi's R&D Centre just north of Tokyo. Dropped onto a modified Fit (Jazz) platform, the new roadster will apparently employ a rear mid-engined layout. An illustration of what the new car could become is depicted.
It's an intriguing new sports car plan from a company that doesn't really have much left in that genre short of the Civic Si and the hybrid CR-Z (the Civic Type R will cease production in August). We did some background research and discovered that Honda has lodged a patent pending in Japan to build a roadster using a subframe and parts from current cars but adding technology to lower curb weight and reduce production costs. The patent actually refers to the "engine being fitted to a center frame" which translates from Japanese to mid-engined and rear-wheel drive. So it will no doubt be lightweight and have good front-rear weight distribution at the same time.
But whether that "mid-engine" refers to a hybrid, fully electric or fuel cell is still unclear. In recent years, Honda has dabbled in all three alternative forms of propulsion, so it's anyone's guess which way they will lean. It's unlikely the automaker will build the car with a gasoline engine option as that would restrict its international application. And if there's anything the company wants, it's to make this car a global success. Don't expect to see this car on the road before 2014.