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2000 Honda S2000 Roadster

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SAN FRANCISCO: The S2000 is one of the most anticipated sports cars in recent memory. Honda has built some of the most wonderful fun, performance cars. The Acura NSX, Acura Integra Type R, Honda Civic Si, and the late, lamented Honda CRX Si. But when Honda announced they were going to build a true sports car, a roadster, a rear wheel drive roadster, the world waited to see what the Honda magic would bring forth.

This might be one of the hardest articles I’ve ever written, at least in the sense that I think Honda builds some of the finest products in the world. Heck, I used to work for Honda. So why is this hard? You’ll see.

When the S2000 was introduced, Wow! The specs were stunning. 240 hp from 2.0-liters. A top engine speed of 9,000 RPM. A six-speed manual transmission. All wrapped up in a body about the size of a Mazda Miata. Then Honda threw in the kayo punch - all this for around $30,000. Performance, in the same league as a BMW M roadster and Porsche Boxster, only ten grand or so cheaper. Who could ask for anything more?

As I’ve said before, styling is in the eye of the beholder. Well, as far as I’m concerned, the S2000 is better looking than the BMW M roadster and not quite as nice as the Boxster. It is much more aggressive looking than the Miata.

Get inside and you’ll find a tidy little cockpit. There was plenty of room (more or less) for my 6’ body but the ever widening rear of mine felt just a tad tight in the seat. There is not an overabundance of storage in the cockpit though. There’s a little "glove box" between the two seat backs and an even smaller elastic net on the passenger’s side of the transmission tunnel. Thankfully there is a trunk.

I found the controls and instruments a strange mix of new and old. On the old side is a big, red starter button (kind of an affectation if you ask me). To start the engine, first you turn the key that’s on the right side of the steering column to the on position then you punch that big, red button on the left side of the dashboard. Hey, maybe on the next model they could move the starter button to the floor!

The new is the video arcade dashboard. No old fashioned analog gauges for the S2000, no sir. Sweeping bar graphs and digital readouts. Just like those Formula 1 and Indy racing cars. A little on the overdone side for dashboard instruments and hard to read in bright sunlight with the top down too.

Then there’s the sound system - hidden. Is it hidden to deter thieves or because real roadsters aren’t supposed to have sound systems? Once you find it (push on the little door that’s dead lower center of the dash and there it is) it works fine. There are remote buttons on the steering wheel so you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel to tune it or change the volume.

Okay, so now you’ve found the starter button and the stereo it’s time to go for a drive. Slide the shifter into first, ease out the clutch and you’re off. Shift up though the gears and enjoy the extremely short throws of the shifter. I swear there was only about two inches of movement at the top of the shifter from gear to gear.

As you drive away you become acutely aware of why there are six-speeds in this transmission. The engine needs the torque multiplication to move the car. At least until the engine hits about 6,000 RPM. Then look out. But that’s the problem. To really appreciate the S2000 you have to keep the engine screaming. Now I have faith that Honda engines will survive those RPMs. But it isn’t very relaxing. In fact I found it down right frantic.

Let’s say you’re puttering around town, maybe in third gear at about 40MPH, and you want to pass another car. So you step on the gas - and wait. There’s just no oomph from the engine. What you need to do is bring it down to second gear, stand on it, and hold on when the engine passes 6,000 RPM. There is no stealth in the S2000. You are either dead slow in the wrong gear or the engine is screaming, "Look at me!" to the world (and the police).

To me a roadster is not about racing. It’s about putting the top down (real easy with the S2000) and enjoying life. Even if you drive fast you should feel relaxed. I felt on the edge whenever I tried to drive quickly. I could never find my "center". I was always aware of the engine screaming at me. Maybe with time I would have grown more used to it but all in all I would prefer an engine with a more conventional power and torque curve in a roadster.

Fuel economy really is average for this type of vehicle, 20 city and 26 highway, and of course the further down you press your right foot the worse it will get. Price as tested was $32,756 that included a full tank of fuel (premium), an aero screen (fits between the two seat backs to lessen back drafts when the top is down), and floor mats (which did not fit very well).

I’m torn. The S2000 is a well-built car and a technological marvel. There’s just one piece of technology I wish Honda would find another car for - the engine. By Bruce Hotchkiss AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

Honda Home Page

Byline:  By Bruce Hotchkiss AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name:   "A well built car and a technological marvel"
Topic:  2000 Honda S2000 Roadster
Word Count:   1018
Photo Caption:  2000 Honda S2000 Roadster
Photo Credits:  Honda Internet Media
Series #:   2000 - 36

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2000 Honda S2000 Roadster

Download the original image file here:  2000 Honda S2000 Roadster 56k

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