A couple of months ago, we reported on a secret meeting of senior product planners and engineers held at Honda’s Tochigi R&D centre in mid-July to decide whether the company should build a third mid-engined sports car.
Well, according to our sources, it’s official. In Thunderbirds-speak, a belated replacement for Honda's S2000 is go!
In addition to its new-generation NSX all-wheel drive hybrid supercar and the sharp-looking, pint-size S660 coupe, Honda will build a successor for the discontinued S2000.
While Honda has confirmed the NSX for Australian release, both it and the new Civic Type-R hot hatch will not arrive until 2016, and the S660 is unlikely to be sold here.
Meantime, although the all-new mid-size sports car is being referred to as a born-again S2000, it quite obviously is not a successor in the true sense of the word because although it remains rear-wheel drive, it will be a coupe employing a mid-mounted engine in contrast to the front-engined S2000 roadster.
As this artist's impression from Holiday Auto suggests, the reinterpreted coupe will borrow clear design cues from both the new NSX and its smaller two-door sibling, the S660 mini-coupe. All three mid-engined sportsters will feature flared wheel-arches, sleek wrap-around headlights and large side air intakes to cool the engine bay.
The mid-size rear-drive coupe will be fitted with a revised version of the new Civic Type-R’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine but with an electric motor bolted on for good measure.
Total output of the hybrid powertrain will reportedly top 272kW, with drive channelled through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. However, unlike the AWD NSX super-hybrid, which will be fitted with front-wheel motors, the S2000 successor will be rear-wheel drive.
Production will take place alongside the NSX at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center in the US. This means the coupe will benefit from the same lightweight carbon-fibre and aluminium construction employed by the NSX, enabling the new-generation S2000 to tip the scales at around 1300kg.
Honda remains tight-lipped about the exploding batteries that caused the on-board inferno in an NSX prototype during development testing last week at the Nurburgring, bringing about the fiery demise of an early example of Honda's upcoming mid-engined sports car flag-bearer.
However, a source close to Honda suggests the well-publicised blaze and subsequent loss of on-board data will push back the NSX’s release by between six and 12 months. But the embarrassing incident will not, we're told, affect development of the 'S2000' that will follow.
Barring any more explosive hybrid incidents, expect to see Honda's all-new mid-size sports coupe in showrooms by late 2017, priced from under $70,000.
Image: Holiday Auto Magazine