Honda's high-performance two-passenger S2000 roadster got a larger engine for the 2004 model year that produced 240 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque. At the same time, the bumpers, headlights and taillights were restyled. Modifications also were made to the suspension tuning and transmission gearing, and larger wheels were installed.
For 2006, drive-by-wire throttle-control technology and Vehicle Stability Assist have been added. An outside temperature gauge and headrest-mounted speakers are now standard.
Competing against the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Nissan 350Z and Porsche Boxster, Honda's rear-wheel-drive sports car packs a high-revving four-cylinder. As a result, the S2000 feels more like a racecar than a typical sports car.
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 3 inches longer and 1.6 inches taller than the 2005 Mazda MX-5 Miata. It's slightly longer than BMW's Z4 but considerably shorter than the Boxster or 350Z. The power-operated top contains a glass rear window with a defroster. A molded top cover is included, and a body-colored hardtop is available.
Integrated roll bars sit behind the twin seats. A clear acrylic wind deflector that mounts between the bars helps reduce turbulence. High-intensity-discharge headlamps and 17-inch alloy wheels are standard. Ground clearance with a full load aboard is 4.2 inches.
The S2000 two-seater comes equipped with body-hugging leather-trimmed bucket seats. Shoulder room and elbowroom were 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.
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 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. XM Satellite Radio and headrest speakers are available.
Under the Hood
Using new Society of Automotive Engineers testing standards, Honda's high-revving 2.2-liter four-cylinder develops 237 hp at 7,800 rpm for 2006. Yielding 162 pounds-feet of torque at 6,800 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.
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, a deep, aggressive growl emanates from the engine. Once it reaches 5,000 rpm or so, 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. You'd better plan on traveling light, too.