When Hondas two-passenger S2000 roadster went on sale as a 2000 model, impatient buyers were willing to pay considerable extra dollars for an early edition. The high-revving sports car was initially available in limited numbers, and its still a hot item on the market. According to Automotive News, Honda sold 9,682 S2000 roadsters in the United States in 2001, which represents a substantial increase from the 6,797 units sold in the previous calendar year.
A new glass rear window with a defroster goes on the 2002 model. Honda says the six-speed-manual transmission has been improved to yield smoother and quieter shifts. An upgraded stereo includes door-mounted tweeters. Refined taillights are fitted with chrome rings. Interior refinements include an upgraded console, door-panel net storage pockets, a new aluminum/leather shift knob, an aluminum-accented footrest and silver trim accents. A new high-capacity clutch has also been installed.
The S2000 is Hondas first rear-wheel-drive car. It packs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and revs to a swift 9,000 rpm. As a result, it feels more like a racecar than a regular sports car. A six-speed-manual gearbox is the sole transmission choice.
Roughly similar to the BMW Z3 in size, the no-holds-barred 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. In addition to providing an additional source of sales, the S2000 establishes a clear link with Hondas racing heritage, which includes several championships in Formula One and Championship Auto Racing Teams competition.
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. The S2000 rides a 94.5-inch wheelbase and is 162.2 inches long overall thats more than 6 inches longer than the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Measuring 50.6 inches to its rooftop, Hondas two-seater is 2 inches taller than the Miata. The convertible has a power-operated top that now comes with a glass rear window instead of plastic. 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. Ground clearance with a full load aboard is 4.2 inches.
Dont expect to use the space behind the front bucket seats for much more than a sliver of luggage. Storage space is at a premium; theres a tiny bin between the seats, a single cupholder and a small trunk with only 5 cubic feet in capacity, which is sufficient for two soft suitcases and not much else. The S2000 is strictly a two-seater, with body-hugging leather-trimmed bucket seats. The range of driving positions is limited because the steering wheel doesnt adjust and the seats must be positioned manually.
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, door locks and mirrors. The instrument cluster features digital and graphic displays that are adapted from those used in racecars. Aluminum pedals are installed.
Under the Hood
Hondas 240-hp, 2.0-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder VTEC engine with a dual-outlet exhaust is 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. Honda claims the S2000 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. Side-impact airbags are not offered, but dual front airbags and all-disc antilock brakes are standard.
Simply put, the S2000 is a hot number. If you think you know what a Honda feels like to drive, youre in for a shock when you slip behind the wheel of the 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. This setup is 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 approximately 5,000 rpm, the S2000 lunges forward like a virtual rocket. Its engine will scream 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 racecar level. Thats really no surprise, because the S2000 looks as if its ready to whip onto a racetrack.
A penalty for all that performance has to be paid in ride comfort the suspension is stiff, and the S2000 is hardly silent at any speed. In addition, the driver and passenger dont get a great abundance of room, though space is adequate. Storage space is one disadvantage in the S2000: trunk capacity is small, and the cockpit has no conventional glove box. Plan on traveling light, and dont earmark the S2000 solely for daily commutes if you want to take full advantage of its performance and vigorous road behavior.