Honda Beat on Track for Production

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New roadster from Honda could be based on Fit/Jazz.

Back in the early 90s, Honda made a small mid-engined, rear-drive roadster called the Beat, a tiny Kei car roadster designed by Pininfarina. It was the last car overseen by company founder Soichiro Honda before he died, when Honda's current president Takanobu Ito was working on developing the original NSX. "I was kind of envious of the little cute sports car," admitted Ito in a recent speech in the United States, in which the Japanese auto exec revealed that Honda would bring revive the Beat with a new compact sports car.

We first reported on plans for a Honda Beat revival back in June 2011, when it seemed that the roadster would be based on the CR-Z hybrid sport-hatch. Now it seems, however, that the Beat will more likely borrow its underpinnings from the Fit with a design derived from the EV-STER and OSM concepts, though its powertrain could go either conventional or hybrid. One way or another, don't expect the Beat to retain the mid-engine/rear-drive layout of its predecessor, as the new roadster is more likely to go front-drive. Whether that proves enough for Honda to take on the likes of the Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S, or even the Mazda MX-5 Miata, remains to be seen.

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