The company always has done what it wants, when it wants. How else to explain the Honda Ridgeline pickup truck? For decades, pickups have been the best-selling vehicles in the United States, and only this year does the company get around to building one.
The Honda S2000 debuted as a concept car in 1995, and it took the company five years to bring it to market. At launch, it had a 2.0-liter (hence the S2000 name), 240-horsepower four-cylinder engine. List price was $32,477. There were no options offered.
Five years later, we have the 2005 Honda S2000, now with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. So why not call it the S2200? I asked a Honda engineer, and he just shrugged.
The engine still has 240 horses, but now you don't have to rev it up to dentist-drill levels to find the herd. List price is $33,465, and once again, no options offered.
Improvements have been few, mostly because few were needed. Originally, the rear window was plastic, which -- like all plastic rear windows in Florida -- would eventually crack and discolor. Now the rear window is glass, which allows for an electric defroster. Very mild styling updates were made for 2004, and the car continues this year with no other modifications.
That's fine. The ride is still rough, the cockpit fairly narrow, trunk space is minimal. But for people who appreciate driving, the S2000 remains one of the most enjoyable vehicles available at any price.
The base-model Porsche Boxster is as much fun and also gets 240 horsepower from its 2.7-liter six-cylinder engine, but, at more than $10,000 extra, I'm not sure why I'd pay that premium, unless I was just enamored by the Porsche name.
The S2000 has its idiosyncrasies. The stereo is hidden behind a flip-down panel, and when it's flipped down, it invades the little knee space available. But the basic controls are duplicated by buttons to the left of the steering wheel, so you can generally leave the panel unflipped. And while I appreciate the power top, I'd be willing to save its weight and cost with a simple manual top like the one in the Mazda Miata. EPA-rated fuel economy is nothing special at 20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined. The combined city/highway fuel mileage for the V-8-powered, 400-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette: 21 mpg.
Otherwise, what you see is what you get. The S2000 fairly begs you drop the top, take the next exit off the interstate and seek out the longest, most winding way home. We know Honda marches to a different drummer: The S2000 is looking for customers who drive to a different drummer, too.
Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smith's TV reports air Wednesdays on Central Florida News 13.