All About Japan

Kei Sports Cars: Small Packages of Fun

Cars

Japan’s kei, or light, car class features a small engine (3 cylinder, 660cc) and compact dimensions. The main concept of these vehicles is economy and convenience. But two Japanese car companies, Daihatsu and Honda—as well as Suzuki, through a collaboration—are expanding the image of these little monsters with pocket-sized sports cars.

Daihatsu Copen

The Daihatsu Copen is two-seat convertible (aluminum) hard-top sports car using the kei class 660cc, turbo-charged three-cylinder engine. The power output is 47kW (63 bhp) and performance is brisk. It’s available with five-speed manual, by far the most popular choice to enhance its sporty image, and four-speed automatic. The Copen originally debuted on the Japanese market in 2002 in a style with lots of round curves, but the latest model (the so-called second generation) arrived in 2014 and has a more aggressive, angular styling theme, though engine capacity remains unchanged.

Honda S660

The Honda S660 Roadster is the latest Japanese kei sports car to come onto the market, using a highly tuned three-cylinder (660cc) kei engine. The styling is futuristic to complement its quick performance. It also has a removable roof similar to a classic Targa top.

The S660 uses a mid-engine configuration that enables crisp, precise handling, the small turbo-charged engine producing 47kW (63 bhp) under a six-speed manual transmission. The car's compact size, light weight and low center of gravity means it is enormous fun to drive.

Caterham Seven 160

The Honda S660 Roadster is the latest Japanese kei sports car to come onto the market, using a highly tuned three-cylinder (660cc) kei engine. The styling is futuristic to complement its quick performance. It also has a removable roof similar to a classic Targa top.

The S660 uses a mid-engine configuration that enables crisp, precise handling, the small turbo-charged engine producing 47kW (63 bhp) under a six-speed manual transmission. The car's compact size, light weight and low center of gravity means it is enormous fun to drive.