The Honda S2000 is a race bred sport convertible designed to thrill the senses and challenge the driver’s experience. With much of Honda’s racing technology built into its design, the S2000 brings F1 high revving engine performance to the average consumer. While created specifically for the driving enthusiast, the S2000 also does not fail in maintaining Honda’s great tradition of reliability. In 2004, it was the highest-ranked model in Vehicle Dependability for the "Premium Sports Car" class by J.D. Power and Associates.
See also the main fact sheets for the Honda S2000.
- Excellent Handling
- 8000+ redline
- Smooth gearbox
- Very fast
- Lack of low-down punch in engine
- Unpredictable oversteer when driven at its limit
- Short gearing makes casual driving & cruising difficult
- Its stylings are feeling a bit dated (New Car Test Drive)
Performance and Handling
There have been a number of careful refinements to the S2000's design, in particular to the handling, starting with the easy things: the 17-inch wheels. Less visible, the frame is stiffer and the suspension is firmer in the front and softer in the rear than most sports cars. It's smoother in the rough stuff than the Nissan 350Z, which isn't bad itself. No rattles or thumps, and it follows the contour of the road without softening or neutralizing it. It has kart-like quickness and uncanny steering thanks to its wider tires and stiff suspension.
The engine is improved now, it's stroked to 2.2 liters from the older 2.0L engine, and makes the same 240 horsepower but delivers more torque, 162 foot-pounds versus 153, at a lower rpm: 6500 rpm instead of an impossibly peaky 7500. So it's got a broader power band and is more friendly to drive, thus easier to drive fast. It's a better car. But, like the Viper SRT/10, it may be better but it's a lot less visceral. There's an electric motor quality to the S2000’s power, like a Japanese super-bike: no punch in the back, just a sense that with enough forward gears, one might keep accelerating indefinitely.
The six-speed gearbox is extremely well designed with great synchronizers making smoother shifts; its short-throw linkage and aluminum-tipped lever feel like a racecar's.
The brakes are big (11.8 inches front, 11.1 inches rear) and fantastic, vented in front, with standard ABS and improved brake pad material for '05. These are the best brakes found on any Honda vehicle, and they round out a set of sports car credentials that's tough to top.
The key to enjoying the S2000 is to drive it hard: Take off, wind the engine to 8200 rpm in first gear, shift into second, stand on it, and don't shift until you hit 8200 again. This is what the Honda S2000 has to offer over the less-expensive Miata.
The Honda S2000 comes standard with the following features:
- Dual Front Airbags (SRS)
- Side-Impact Door Beams
- Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
- Traction Control
- Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Reliability and Maintenance
Owners of the Honda S2000 can count on Honda’s reputation for building reliable cars. The general consensus is that the S2000 provides outstanding reliability and mechanical build. Above and beyond regular scheduled maintenance, the Honda S2000 needs little more to keep it running trouble free for many years.
Interior and Comforts
Air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, cruise control, and keyless remote entry are all standard. There's a big red button for an ignition switch that's racecar inspired, but far from performance oriented. The digital tach is an attempt to be cool, with orange lines arcing across the top of the instrument panel, but it's hard to see and comes across as excessively gimmicky anyhow. There's also a digital speedometer reading mph in fairly big numbers, flanked by small fuel and coolant temperature gauges.
The AM/FM/CD stereo is located behind a flap-like rectangular door on the dash. The buttons are small, but there are redundant controls just to the left of the steering wheel.
The power top moves up and down easily and latches over the windshield. There's a glass rear window with defroster, and also an aero windscreen behind the seats to reduce buffeting when the top is down.
The leather bucket seats are beautifully comfortable, with one inch more shoulder room than before. The three-spoke leather steering wheel is perfect. There are mesh storage pockets in the doors but no glove box. There's a new small storage compartment between the seats, giving the cabin minimal storage, a slight improvement from virtually nonexistent.
For its basically small dimensions, it has the look of a bigger classic roadster. That's because of the long hood, which is a result of the engine being located behind the centerline of the front axle for better balance and handling. This design also leads to a striking short rear deck.
The nose has been tweaked in the 2005 model with a softer bumper, and the new triple-beam HID headlights freshen it and make it look more contemporary. But the S2000's visual appeal still doesn't match its mechanical credentials. It looks a little slab-sided and plain compared to some other sports cars, in particular the radical BMW Z4, but the upside to that is more protection for the driver. The new 17-inch wheels are 10-spoke alloys, and they are gorgeous, framed nicely in the front by the flared fenders.
Styles and Options
The Honda S2000 is available in one base trim:
The base model comes standard with:
- 237hp 4-Cylinder 8000 rpm engine
- 6-Speed Manual Transmission
- Double Wishbone Suspension with Coil Springs
- 17" Alloy Wheels
- Bridgestone Potenza RE050 Tires
- Electrically Powered Soft Top
- High-Intensity Discharge Headlights (HID)
- Glass Rear Window with Defroster
- Power windows and doors
- Cruise Control
- Short-Throw Shifter
- Leather-Trimmed Seats
- Textured Aluminum Pedals
- Mazda Miata: side-by-side comparison
- Porsche Boxster: side-by-side comparison
- Mercedes-Benz SLK: side-by-side comparison
- BMW Z4: side-by-side comparison
- Nissan 350Z: side-by-side comparison
WikiCars Contributor Favorites
Honda Manufacturer Sites
- Honda S2000 - Official US Site