|Honda's baby NSX supercar
£ 6,000 Mid-Engined Sports Car
sports car has a 656 cc 12-valve engine
which produces peak power at 8,100 rpm.
Its links with NSX and F1 technology will
boost its appeal in Japan
Smaller than a Metro, but packing all the technology
of an NSX, Honda's Beat is set to become
the Japanese cult car of the '90s.
Its specification is
another landmark for Honda; despite being 9 ins
shorter than the Metro and powered by a complex
mid-mounted 12-valve three-cylinder 656 cc
engine, it sells in Japan for the equivalent of
£ 6,000. That's expensive for its class but its
looks and specification seem certain to create
The Beat is set to spawn
a whole generation of tiny, highly specialised
sports cars, which are ridiculously cheap by
European standards, but are only available in
This is the first of a
new wave of minicar bombshells for the '90s to be
launched in Japan, but Honda is no stranger to
miniature sports cars. The Beat evokes memories
of the S600/S800 junior sportsters of the '60s.
The Beat scores over its
competitors with its rear drive chassis and
pretty, minimalised looks. Its implied links to
the NSX supercar and Formula 1 technology can
only help it in the marketplace.
However, Honda's partner
Rover has had no imput in the project and at no
stage was the car considered as an MG. Rover's
official line is "no comment", but
insiders say the company was never contacted and
that the MG project is one on which Rover will not
co-operate with Honda.
In any case, highly
charismatic as it is, the Beat is too specialised
to compete in the European or North American
The two-seater soft top
is powered by a high-revving, three cylinder, all
alloy transverse engine.
Output is 64 bhp, the
maximum allowed under the Japanese tax-related K-car rules, which limit power and size
for city cars.
The Beat's normally
aspirated, sohc four-valve engine, while based on
Honda's Today minicar, has a new form of
throttle valve intake technology, dubbed MTREC (Multi Throttle Responsive Engine
Control System), and PGM-FI injection. MTREC has a
computer-controlled butterfly valve inside the
inlet tract of each cylinder, rather than just
one butterfly covering all three cylinders as in
the Today engine.
The result is a 656 cc
12-valve engine which produces its 64 bhp peak
power at 8,100 rpm and 44 lb ft of torque at
The Beat's overall length
is 129.7 ins, width is 86.7 ins and heigth is
specialised within the Japanese market,
Honda's Beat has a soft top as standard
but there is talk of a hard top for later