Honda’s high-performance two-passenger S2000 roadster gets a larger engine for the 2004 model year. The new 2.2-liter four-cylinder generates the same 240 horsepower as its 2.0-liter predecessor, but torque output has grown from 153 to 162 pounds-feet.
The front and rear bumpers, headlights and LED taillights have been restyled. Modifications were made to the suspension tuning and transmission gearing, and 17-inch tires replace the previous 16-inchers. XM Satellite Radio and headrest speakers are newly optional.
Ever since the S2000 went on sale as a 2000 model, it’s been in short supply. Competing against the Audi TT, BMW Z3 and Z4, Nissan 350Z and Porsche Boxster, Honda’s first rear-wheel-drive car packs a high-revving four-cylinder engine. As a result, the S2000 feels more like a racecar than a regular sports car.
Styled in the traditional sports-car mode but with a crisp, angular look, the S2000 has a wedge-shaped profile that stands apart from other roadsters. Built on a 94.5-inch wheelbase and measuring 162.2 inches long overall, the S2000 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. 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 reduce turbulence while on the move. High-intensity-discharge headlamps and 17-inch Bridgestone RE050 tires on alloy wheels are standard. Ground clearance with a full load aboard is 4.2 inches.
Storage space is at a premium. There’s a tiny bin between the seats and a trunk with only 5 cubic feet of capacity. The S2000 is strictly a two-seater and comes equipped with body-hugging leather-trimmed bucket seats. Shoulder- and elbowroom have been increased for 2004, but the range of driving positions is limited because the steering wheel doesn’t adjust and the seats must be positioned manually.
The instrument displays 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
Honda’s new 240-hp, 2.2-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. Now yielding 162 pounds-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm, the engine mates with 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.
Simply put, the S2000 is a hot number. Razor-sharp steering, disciplined handling and athletic cornering ability blend with excellent braking performance to produce a driving experience that approaches racecar levels.
You’ll need to press the red starter button to fire up the potent four-cylinder. At full throttle, you’ll hear a deep, aggressive growl from the engine. Once it reaches approximately 5,000 rpm, the S2000 lunges forward like a rocket.
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.