The Honda S2000 was designed to be an uncompromising sports car to bring the heritage back from their old “S” cars and to compete with the gold standard of roadsters, the Mazda Miata. It is still disputable on if they did their job or not, but there is no dispute that the S2000 was a force to reckon with. Back in 2003, Car and Driver pitted the S2000 against some hefty competition in a comparison test with a Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4, Nissan 350Z Touring, and an Audi TT roadster. The S2000 won that comparison test to prove that it could run with the big boys in its class.
The S2000, like any great sports car, is a front engine – mid mounted for perfect 50-50 weight distribution – rear wheel drive roadster with a six-speed manual gear box. The engine that allowed this car to compete with the V6’s out there was a 2.0 liter inline-4. This DOHC-VTEC motor produced 237 hp and 153 lb-ft of torque from the naturally aspirated engine and revved to an amazing 8900 RPM. When you translate all that into driving experience, it’s just wow! There isn’t a lot of low down torque and you never feel like you are in a rocket ship that wants to kill you, but you always have plenty of smooth power and high revs that push you around a corner as controlled as you want to. The chassis, weight distribution, and steering make this car a pointed and precise drive that makes you smile going around any corner no matter the speed. Anytime I’ve driven an S2000 it reminds me of what a car is supposed to handle like, and every time it puts a smile on my face.
Practicality isn’t something you think of when you’re out to buy a roadster, but this defiantly shouldn’t be your only car – unless you’re single and have no kids – as the suspension is hard and there isn’t any room for anything. Me being 6’ 1”, height wise I fit just fine in the car. I can have a comfortable seating position and my head doesn’t rub the roof line, but you still get a cramped feeling all the time. Just as with all small and low sports cars, there is no graceful way of getting out of the car either, just keep that in mind when you think that taking a date out in this car sounds like a good idea.
The S2000 has always been a great car and even driving this 2003 model with over 50k miles on clock, it’s still a fantastic ride with fun rear-end sliding power. Sadly though, Honda has taken a new direction in the car market killing the S2000 in 2009 and also killing other sports car programs like the NSX in favor of hybrid technology and fuel economy. I applaud Honda for innovating hybrid technology and hydrogen technology, but there should be a happy median.