I’m finally back home after picking up my Honda Beat some 2,100 miles away. As soon as I saw the day’s sunny forecast I knew I had to take it for my first drive. This rad little thing is now my favorite car.
I know I’ve been flooding you readers with non-stop Beat content even before I got behind the wheel, but that’s just how magnificent this car is.
It’s sort of Jalopnik tradition that we talk about what’s wrong with our new vehicle purchases. But this Honda Beat is so fun and provides so much joy that I’m bucking the trend and instead talking about what’s great about it. So here’s everything awesome about this Honda Beat.
This car is as cute as a button and turns heads everywhere it goes. Corvette drivers will give you a thumbs up, bikers will pull out their phones and take pictures and kids will compare it to their Power Wheels.
You’ll also see a lot of double takes as people realize that you’re driving the thing from the right side. The little car oozes character, so you definitely have to be a bit of an extrovert to own one. A Beat looks like a kid’s toy that’s somehow legal for road use.
On that note, calling the Beat diminutive is an understatement. Pull up next to a semi-tractor and you’ll quickly realize that the truck’s tires are as tall as your windshield. A Beat will even make a Honda Rebel look like a Harley Road King.
This one will answer a lot of the questions that I’m getting in my inbox. The Beat may be a tiny car, but it will definitely fit most humans of average size.
This car will swallow some of the largest people with room to spare. Here’s a picture of me behind the wheel with suitably windblown hair.
I’m not what you’d call small, but I fit so well that I actually needed to put the seat back up a little.
The only area that the interior is a little lacking in is legroom. During my drive I often found myself putting my clutch foot ahead of the clutch pedal because that was more comfortable than using the dead pedal. Someone with long legs or really big feet might struggle here.
The Beat is equipped with a 660cc three-cylinder that puts out 63 ponies mounted behind the seats and under what passes for a trunk.
The little Beat is surprisingly peppy at slow speeds, too. You can peg that rev counter to 9,000 rpm on every gear change and still be within the speed limit, but you’ll be smiling all the way through. It sounds like a Triumph Speed Triple mixed with a can of nuts and bolts, so a swarm of angry metallic bees right behind your head.
There’s no getting around it, top speed is dependent on your weight. On a good day you could get into the 80 mph range. And while 80 mph is solidly highway speed, this isn’t really a highway bomber. You’re more than halfway through the rev range in top gear at 50 mph, so the poor little engine is absolutely screaming at 80 mph. That speedometer may read in kilometers, but it certainly feels like it runs in miles.
The five-speed transmission in the Beat is probably the best thing you can shift that isn’t a gated shifter. The stick slides into each gear with a satisfying click and the throws are delightfully short.
The stock shift knob is a bit small for American hands, so I had a knob made for my car by an excellent member of Opposite-lock.
This gearbox makes you feel like a racing driver and it’s practically impossible to stall the thing. Go ahead and drop the clutch from a dead stop without any throttle. It won’t stall.
Complementing the great engine and transmission is the car’s go kart-style handling. Some car reviews exaggerate and say that this car handles on rails. Well, with good tires the Beat sticks to the road like glue. Like I said before, a Beat is “slow car fast” in ways a Miata isn’t. The car’s narrow interior also makes it feel like you’re in the cockpit of a plane.
I’m known for my serious love of the Smart Fortwo. They are to me as Jeeps are to David Tracy. But I finally found a car that I adore even more.
If you want a JDM import but unsure what to get, buy a Beat, you won’t regret it.