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By Jim Flammang
March 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview Honda says that nothing has changed on its high-performance two-passenger S2000 roadster for the 2003 model year. Ever since the S2000 went on sale as a 2000 model, its been in short supply.
Competing against the Audi TT, BMW Z3, Porsche Boxster and the new Nissan 350Z, Hondas first rear-wheel-drive car packs a high-revving, 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. As a result, the S2000 feels more like a racecar than a regular sports car. A six-speed-manual transmission is the only gearbox available. Serving as Hondas first true sports car, the S2000 establishes a clear link with the companys racing heritage.
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; it is more than 6 inches longer and 2 inches taller than the Mazda Miata. The power-operated top contains a glass rear window with a defroster, and 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.
Storage space is at a premium. Theres a tiny bin between the seats, a single cupholder and a trunk with only 5 cubic feet of capacity. 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.
Displays in the instrument cluster are adapted from racecars. The cockpit features net door-panel storage pockets, an aluminum and leather shift knob, aluminum pedals, an aluminum-accented footrest and silver trim accents.
Under the Hood
Hondas 240-hp, 2.0-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder VTEC engine can rev as high as 9,000 rpm a limit far beyond the reach of most cars on the market. It yields 153 pounds-feet of torque at 7,500 rpm and is joined to a six-speed-manual transmission. Honda claims the S2000 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds.
Dual front airbags and all-disc antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags are not offered.
The S2000 is a hot number. Razor-sharp steering, disciplined handling talents and athletic cornering ability blend with excellent braking capacity to produce a driving experience that approaches racecar level.
Youll need to press the red starter button to fire up the potent four-cylinder. 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.
A penalty for all that performance must be paid in ride comfort the suspension is stiff, and the S2000 is hardly silent at any speed. Plan on traveling light, and dont earmark the S2000 solely for daily commutes if you want to take full advantage of its vigorous road behavior.