Hooniverse Parting Shot: The Honda S2000 – Hondas Purest Sports Car

A Stunning Beauty Shot of a 2001 S2000 Roadster.

Honda could arguably be called one of the world’s most successful, if not the most successful automobile and motorcycle producer. This is a company so admired around the globe that it rarely makes what could be called a bad product. From light power generators to aircraft jet engines, the products always seem to work better than any other competing product. However, it is time to take a look at one of Honda’s unique vehicles, a car that has been in production for the past 10 years, updated only when necessary. Let’s take a parting shot at Honda’s quick and probably last true sports car, the S2000 Roadster.

The 1,997cc Honda F20C VTEC Four Cylinder.

The car was first shown as the Honda Sports Study Model (SSM) concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995, and due to overwhelming interest, it was launched in world markets in 1999. Carrying on the tradition of naming Honda Roadsters of the 1960s based on their displacement, the S2000 is named for its engine displacement of 2-liters. Officially two model designations exist: the initial launch model was called the AP1, while the AP2 designation was given to the models produced from 2004 onwards. The AP1 features a front-mid-engine, rear wheel drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997 cc (122-cubic-inch) F20C inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine producing 240 hp at 8,300 rpm and 153 ft·lb of torque at 7,500 rpm in U.S. models. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. It has been written that the S2000 was the most powerful, naturally aspirated, 2-litre engine in the world with the usual Honda reliability.

A 2002 Model Year S2000 Roadster.

The 2001 model was largely unchanged, but Honda upgraded the radio and added a digital clock to the dashboard display. For the 2002 model year, suspension settings were revised, the plastic rear window was replaced with glass, and an electric defroster added. Other updates included slightly revised tail lamps, an upgraded radio, and a revised engine control unit. The AP1 was manufactured up to 2003 at Honda’s Takanezawa, Tochigi plant, alongside the Honda NSX and Honda Insight hybrid. In 2004 production moved to the Suzuka plant.

Where it all happens. The Cockpit of a 2008 S2000.

The 2004 model year incorporated several revisions to the S2000 and was given the chassis designation of AP2. The AP2 included substantial changes to the drivetrain and suspension. The 2004 model introduced newly designed 17-inch wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tires along with a re-tuned suspension that reduced the car’s tendency to oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered to help the one complaint with the Roadster, its jarring ride. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts.

The 2,157CC F22C1 VTEC Four Cylinder from 2004.

The AP2 also included the introduction of a larger version of the F20C to the North American market. Designated F22C1, the engine’s stroke was lengthened, increasing its displacement to 2,157 cc (132 cu in). At the same time, the redline was reduced from 8,800 rpm to 8,000 rpm with a cutout at 8,200 rpm, mandated by the longer travel distance of the pistons. Peak torque increased 6% to 162 ft-lb at 6,500 rpm while power output was the same 240-horsepower at a lower 7,800 rpm. The F22C1 was used exclusively in the North American market for 2004-2009 models, with the F20C being used in all other markets. In conjunction with its introduction of the F22C1, Honda also changed the transmission gear ratios, replaced the brass synchronizers with carbon, and included a clutch release delay valve. For 2006 a drive by wire throttle, Vehicle Stability Assist system, new wheels, and one new exterior color, Laguna Blue Pearl, were added. Interior changes included revised seats, additional stereo speakers integrated into the headrests, and additional headrest padding where previous seats had helmet depressions and screens.

The 2008 Honda S2000 Club Racer

Fans of Honda’s S2000 will want to snap one up soon, as production ended at the close of the 2009 model year. The high-revving roadster has always had more in common with the company’s high performance motorcycles thanks to its 9,000 rpm redline and minimal low-end torque than it does with the other cars in Honda’s lineup. It’s a pure sports car in the mold of the British classics that so obviously inspired it. The S2000’s abilities to tackle the twists and turns of the most demanding back roads as well as assault the track have made it one of the go-to choices for enthusiasts. With its well-laid-out cockpit, it’s a machine that rewards its driver at every turn. With plenty of aftermarket support, it has become a prime platform for tuners. Over its ten-year run Honda has sold 110,000 S2000s world wide with about 65,000 making their way to the US.

The simplicity that is a Honda S2000. This is a 2004 model.

Honda has produced some world class sports cars, including the awesome NSX. The S2000 along with Mazdas MX-5 are the last of the “proper” 2-seat sports cars available today. They have two seats, a folding top, a manual transmission, a stonking 4-cylinder engine, rear-wheel-drive, and are great fun to drive. I don’t understand why Honda discontinued this car unless it needs the manufacturing space to make more of the fuel-efficient sedans that are all the rage now. If you crave a real driver’s car and would rather not have an MX-5 (Miata) or one of the European boutique brands (BMW Z4, Audi TT, Porsche Boxster), snap one up now or you’ll regret it in the future. Read more of my Retrospective and Recently Deceased articles at Automotive Traveler.

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15 responses to “Hooniverse Parting Shot: The Honda S2000 – Hondas Purest Sports Car”

  1. M44Power Avatar

    [youtube T8dl4faCpJE#t=1m37s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8dl4faCpJE#t=1m37… youtube]
    It may be world class, but it never struck a spark in my heart. Miatas, Boxsters, yes. But I never got the S2000. Feel free to call it a personality defect.

  2. muthalovin Avatar

    When the S2000 came out, I was amazed. This car was everything that I ever wanted in a sports car. When Honda released the aluminum hard-top, I was there. Then I realized how many dollars a S2000 cost. Slowly, the S2000 was lost on me. I could get beyond the price. It seems that there was very little value that you got when compared to a MX-5. I was disillusioned with it, but if someone game me a S2000CR, I would hoon the shit out of it.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    "Honda's Purest Sports Car"? Was the S2000 really a purer sports car than the S800? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_S800

    1. Alff Avatar

      Answer: No.

    2. Syrax Avatar

      Or even the NSX, that was Acura only for Americans.

  4. engineerd Avatar

    Malaise v. 2.0 is really getting to me. I was hoping cars like this would survive it, considering they aren't all that bad on the economy figures. Oh well, I guess all good things come to an end.
    The S2000 really is the perfect application for Honda's low-torque, high rev engines. It's light and tossable. The Accord, on the other hand, has become so heavy and bloated that they can be downright sluggish — and dangerous when trying to "shoot the gap" — in the low revs.

  5. Syrax Avatar

    The S2000 is one of the few cars that the production model actually got better than the concept. I mean, the SSM was ugly.

  6. Manic_King Avatar

    Well, Lotus Elise is still available…..

  7. Alff Avatar

    It's a lot shorter than I remember.

  8. ChuckyShamrok Avatar

    I was brought up on english sports cars, hell my parents still have a 59 TR3A and a 75 TR6 in their driveway, but the Miata and S2000 don't work for me. I was shopping around for a new car last year, and while test driving cars I found that I am too tall for both the Miata and S2000. The only roadster I fit in was the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, but you can only find those used with automatic transmissions. Being tall isn't always awesome.

  9. […] Hooniverse Parting Shot: The Honda S2000 – Hondas Purest Sports Car : Hooniverse […]

  10. Swede Avatar

    You can't be serious! The Solstice and Sky? Total garbage! Pull on the door's arm rest and watch the entire door panel flex away from the body panel. I'm 6', 210 lbs and have no problem fitting in my s2000. As a descriptive word, awesome falls woefully short.

  11. mixflatsix Avatar

    What's the better car to get, pre or post 2004 ?

  12. Rings Avatar

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