Honda, a brand best known for its economical, reliable family cars, adds to a growing portfolio with its first true sports car, the S2000 roadster.
The two-seat S2000 is the first rear-wheel-drive car to wear the Honda badge. It is based on the SSM concept car that first appeared at the 1995 Tokyo Auto Show, and it gives the Honda brand a new signature model with a more direct link to the companys racing heritage, which includes several championships in Formula One and Championship Auto Racing Teams competition.
Angular, crisp styling and a wedge-shaped profile give the S2000 a modern, clean look that is distinct from other roadsters. With an overall length of 162 inches, the S2000 is 7 inches longer than the Mazda Miata, and with a height of 50 inches, it is 2 inches taller.
The convertible top is power operated but has a plastic rear window instead of glass. Integrated roll bars are mounted behind the seats, and a clear acrylic wind deflector that mounts between them is available as an accessory.
Turning the ignition key doesnt start the engine in the S2000. In a throwback to classic sports cars, the driver has to push a red dashboard start button. In a nod to modern technology, the S2000 comes with remote keyless entry, an anti-theft immobilizer system, and an instrument cluster with digital and graphic displays adapted from racecars.
The body-hugging leather bucket seats have manual adjustments, and the steering wheel is fixed, which limits options in driving positions. Interior storage is limited to a tiny bin between the seats, a map net and a single cupholder. The small trunk holds four or five grocery bags or two soft suitcases.
Under the Hood
Honda squeezes 240 horsepower out of a dual camshaft 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that revs to 9,000 rpm about the same as NASCAR stock cars at Daytona. The engine teams only with a six-speed manual transmission.
The engine has a deep, aggressive growl at full throttle, and once it reaches about 5,000 rpm, it takes off like a rocket. Combined with razor-sharp steering, athletic cornering ability and strong brakes, the S2000 is more racecar than sports car.
The ride is stiff; noise levels are high, with wind noise bordering on excessive at highway speeds with the top up; and passenger accommodations are basic and cramped.
Honda set out to make the S2000 a high-performance sports car and didnt get sidetracked by trying to make it a luxury two-seater as well. Racing enthusiasts should love this car.