You could be forgiven for assuming that kei cars are funny, cute little vehicles that exist only for comic relief. But the reality is, people in Japan take them very seriously.
I’m not just talking about the more performance and driver-oriented versions, because kei cars make up almost half of new car sales in Japan. It’s not only a big market for manufacturers, these little machines are a way for people across Japan to be mobile in a reliable and affordable way.
This Honda Beat I spotted looking all tough and menacing in Odaiba at StanceNation Japan G Edition last weekend isn’t so concerned about moving its occupants from point A to point B. It’s about giving its driver a fun and rewarding experience, while looking nothing at all like the base car.
Even the interior has been modified beyond recognition with lots of inspiration having been taken from the Honda sports cars that we all love. This is a Beat that likes to punch well above its weight class.
Apart from the doors, every other panel has been completely redone, from the new-generation NSX style front bumper to the vented hood. Even the lights are custom, giving a far more modern feel to the ageing kei machine.
A vented fender section up front connects to the deeper side skirts, which in turn run up to the widened rear fenders. RAYS Volk Racing TE37 Sonic wheels in a 16-inch fitment feature at all four corners.
Look closely and you’ll notice that even the air intakes feeding the engine have been opened up.
Helping shed heat, a pair of large openings have been styled into the rear bumper. And what 656cc three-cylinder engine would be complete without a set of quad tailpipes.
Even if the spiritual successor to the Beat, the S660, has been available for a couple of years now, it shows that the love for these legendary little cars is still very much alive.
I mean, come on, who on earth wouldn’t want to have one of these in their garage?!
Dino Dalle Carbonare