Only about 5,000 of Hondas hot two-seat roadsters were scheduled to come to the United States from Japan each year, and they were likely to be snapped up fast. First-year results proved to be even more impressive. Automotive News reports that Honda sold 6,797 of these sizzlers during 2000.
Introduced for 2000, the no-holds-barred sports car is roughly similar to BMWs Z3 in size, but the S2000 has a style and personality all its own, highlighted by its energetic powertrain. Best known for economical and reliable family cars, Honda has offered sporty models before, but this is the companys first true sports car. It evolved from the SSM concept car that first appeared at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1995 and also is the first Honda with rear-wheel drive. In addition to providing an additional source of sales, it establishes a clear link with Hondas racing heritage, which includes several championships in Formula One and Championship Auto Racing Teams competition.
Changes for 2001 include the addition of an in-trunk emergency release, a rear wind deflector, clock, floormats and a new color: Indy Yellow.
Styled in the traditional sports car mode but with a crisp, angular look, the S2000 displays a wedge-shaped profile that stands apart from other roadsters. At 162 inches overall, the S2000 is more than 6 inches longer than the Mazda Miata; measuring 50.6 inches to its rooftop, the roadster is 2 inches taller than the Miata. The convertible has a power-operated top, but its rear window is made of plastic rather than glass. A molded top cover is included.
Integrated roll bars sit behind the twin seats. A clear acrylic wind deflector that mounts between the bars helps to reduce turbulence while on the move. High-intensity-discharge headlamps and 16-inch Bridgestone Potenza tires on alloy wheels are standard.
Theres no space behind the front bucket seats for anything other than a sliver of luggage. This is strictly a two-seater, with body-hugging leather-trimmed bucket seats. The steering wheel has no adjustment, and seats must be adjusted manually, which limits the range of driving positions. Storage space is at a premium, with a tiny bin between the seats, a single cupholder and a small trunk with only 5 cubic feet in capacity sufficient for two soft suitcases and not much else.
Standard equipment includes electric power steering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, a CD player, tachometer, digital clock, an immobilizer theft-deterrent system, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The instrument cluster features digital and graphic displays, adapted from those used in racing cars.
Under the Hood
Beneath the hood sits a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder VTEC engine with dual-outlet exhaust thats made to rev as high as 9,000 rpm a limit far beyond most cars on the market; it yields 153 pounds-feet of torque at 7,500 rpm. Coupled to a six-speed-manual transmission, the S2000 leaps past its milder-mannered stablemates when pushing the gas pedal to the floor.
Side-impact airbags are not offered, but dual front airbags and all-disc antilock brakes are standard.
If you think you know what a Honda feels like to drive, youre in for a shock when you slip behind the wheel of an S2000. The differences begin when you try to start the engine. Dont bother twisting the ignition key in its lock; instead, youll need to press the red starter button to fire up the potent four-cylinder a setup borrowed from Porsche and other classic sports cars of the past.
At full throttle, youll hear a deep, aggressive growl from the engine. Once it reaches 5,000 rpm or so, the S2000 lunges forward like a virtual rocket, its engine screaming passionately through each step of the close-ratio six-speed gearbox. As if acceleration prowess werent enough, razor-sharp steering, disciplined handling talents and athletic cornering ability blend with excellent braking capacity to produce a driving experience that approaches racing car level. Its really no surprise since the S2000 looks as if its ready to whip onto a racetrack somewhere.
A penalty for all that performance is paid in ride comfort the suspension is stiff, and the S2000 is hardly silent at any speed. In addition, the driver and passenger dont have a great abundance of room, though space is adequate. As for storage space, not only is the trunk capacity minimal, but the S2000 cockpit has no conventional glove box. In this car, you should travel light, and dont earmark the S2000 for daily commutes if you want to take full advantage of its performance and vigorous road behavior.