Test Driven: 2007 Honda S2000 (9.5/10)Posted: August 11, 2011
When the S2000 came on the scene it was hailed by much of the media as being one of the best affordable sports cars money could buy. Having tried one out, I would have to agree wholeheartedly. The S2000 offers everything you would want from a pure roadster, a lot like a Mazda Miata, but it is a much more serious performance car all around. Honda has a long history of racing and when they decide to really make a proper car, it shows. It is just a shame they don’t make more cars like the S2000, and that they stopped its production altogether in 2009, with no successor yet planned.
The S2000 is a sports car and nothing else. Its purpose is made blatantly clear by its appearance alone, only two seats near the back of the car, a long sleek nose making for a wedged shape, and its lack of a roof. It is all about driving, so the road sheep out there need not apply. Inside, the same can be seen; the seats are extremely supportive, all the controls are in just the right place, and there is a bright red “engine start” button to the left of the steering wheel.
The motor starts with a throaty, sporting tone. As you set off and get driving you notice that the clutch has a lot of feel to it, and the shift gate is very solid and precise in its action. The steering is very responsive and allows you to really feel the road surface. As far as driver engagement, the S2000 is up there with the best of them.
Power comes from a 2.2L inline 4 cylinder engine that produces 237hp without the aid of turbo or supercharger. In fact, the first generation S2000 held the record for the highest amount of horsepower per liter in a naturally aspirated production car until just recently, with its 2.0L making the same amount of power as the second generation car that I drove. The motor itself is very good, and is quite proper for a roadster like this. It is VTEC equipped, meaning that it adjusts the engine’s settings to ultra aggressive after 6000rpm, up to its 8000rpm redline. It definitely has an aural scream as the revs climb, especially once VTEC engages, an enthralling note that makes your hair stand on end. The car gains speed quite well; 237hp is plenty to have a lot of fun with in a 2800lb car, especially when you consider the S2000’s tight gearing. There are faster cars out there, sure, but I was happy enough with how it picked up under full throttle, and it had no issues breaking into license-losing territory on an open stretch of highway.
Handling wise, the S2000 is exactly as it should be. It has 50/50 weight distribution in a front engine, rear wheel drive layout. Its handling is extremely balanced and telepathic when you get near the limit. For the second generation S2000s, Honda tuned in a little bit of understeer as the car was nearing its limit to warn the driver that the tail would come out if the car was pushed further. The understeer is really just a warning though because the second you notice the front going light, the back end will start to follow it. So, fear not, oversteer is the name of the game here. It takes a lot of speed to reach the limits of the S2000 though, more than most people would be willing to go into a corner with on public roads.
The S2000 is a fantastic sports car that will please both avid enthusiasts and more normal drivers alike. It has enough power to be fun and exciting, as well as the handling and driver engagement to match. Most buyers will have it as a second car as it is pretty impractical space wise, but that is what the S2000 is supposed to be. I had a blast driving it, and I can definitely say it is on my “to own” list for sure. I urge anyone looking at a new Mazda MX5, a used BMW Z4, a used BMW Z3M, or a used Porsche Boxter to go and try out an S2000 before they make their final decision. It may lack the brand name of some of those, but it is just as good a drivers car in my opinion and will be much cheaper to maintain and probably more reliable. For me it is one of those cars that I just keep thinking about after my drive in it. The Honda S2000 is a lot of fun, and a proper driving experience to be sure.
WoM Score: Honda S2000 (Used)
Primary Function: Performance: 2
Secondary Functions: Practicality(1), MPG(2): 1.5
Visual Appeal: 2
Build Quality: 2
Value for Money: 2
Final Score: 9.5/10