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Honda Roadster a bit green, a lot mean

THE replacement for the Honda S2000 has been revealed in Britain. It's a new droptop built up from the hot Civic Type R.

Officially, the next S2000 is known only as the Open Study Model and is being displayed at the British International Motor Show as a low-emission roadster.

But it does not take much digging to discover the car's Civic roots and a production plan for late next year or early 2010.

It is clearly related to the Civic, and Honda in Japan admits it is working on a front-drive two-seater to take over from the S2000 when production ends next year.

The S2000 is 10 years old and its unique rear-wheel-drive mechanical package makes it very costly to make.

A Civic-based successor opens the way for a more affordable replacement and has the potential for much higher sales.

Honda Australia is not saying much about the potential for the Open Study Model.

“It's purely a concept hyrid sports car. It shows you can be green and sporty as well,” Honda spokesman Mark Higgins says.

“The car was designed by our R&D centre in Germany and is very much a European creation.”

It is also a Civic-based creation, with a dashboard that could have come straight from the current Type R hatch.

The car follows a stronger “green” direction by Honda, which previewed the CR-Z as a hybrid and has also put its FCX Clarity fuel-cell car into limited production.

Honda says the design brief for the Open Study Model is “clean and dynamic”, an approach that means the rear of the body extends into the cabin between the seats.

Much of the car is taken from the Civic — including its hidden front-drive mechanical package — and this runs right down to the gearshift in the centre of the dash and a Type R-style ignition start button.