Honda S2000's Engine - VehicleHistory (2024)

Braden Carlson

May 5, 2021

Honda’s legendary S2000 sports car is known for its handling & high-revving four-cylinder engine. Clean, low-mile examples are selling for nearly $30,000.

Honda S2000's Engine - VehicleHistory (1)

The Honda S2000 became an instant classic the day the iconic Japanese manufacturer debuted it. It first became available for the 1999 model year and has continuously appeared atop lists of the greatest budget sports cars. It is small, nimble, fast, and handles like a go-kart.

Pound for pound, the Honda S2000 is one of the most fun cars for the money. A major contributing factor to the fun of these cars is undoubtedly the engine.

In 1995, Honda announced the development of a new sports car using a rigid “x-bone frame” system at the Tokyo Motor Show. The S2000 gets its name from the original displacement of the engine, a 2.0-liter, or 2,000 cubic centimeters (cc) inline four-cylinder. The S nomenclature carries over from the iconic Honda sports cars of the 1960s.

The S500, S600, and S800 all are also named for their engine displacement. So, when developing the S2000, Honda decided to bring back the iconic naming scheme.

The S2000 has two different generations known as AP1 and AP2. Though the second-generation engine’s displacement was bumped up to 2.2-liters, the name S2000 remains the same. The AP1 S2000 ran from 1999 to 2003, and the AP2 S2000 ran from 2004 to 2009. Though the engines are fairly similar, each generation of S2000 has slightly different power outputs, fuel economy, and engine specifications.

If you are in the market for a Honda S2000, it’s important that you know exactly which generation you want and the details of each one.

As always, when shopping for a used car, you want to know every detail you can. Let’s take a look at the details of the engine for both generations of the S2000.

Honda S2000's Engine - VehicleHistory (2)

AP1 S2000 Engine Specs

The engine found under the hood of the AP1 Honda S2000 is the now-legendary Honda F20C. The F20C is perhaps most famously known for its 9,000 rpm rev limiter. This makes the F20C one of the highest revving production engines ever fitted to a production car. This also keeps the heritage of its predecessors alive as the S600 is also atop the list of the highest revving production engines with its 9,500 rpm limiter. Let’s take a look at the specs of the legendary F20C.

The engine block and cylinder head of the F20C are both cast from aluminum alloy, making this engine lightweight. It is an inline four-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder. It features dual overhead camshaft construction and standard multi-port electronic fuel injection. It also features Honda’s legendary variable valve timing system, VTEC.

The U.S.-delivered F20C has 240 horsepower and 153 lb.-ft. of torque. It has a compression ratio of 11 to 1. The variant of the F20C delivered to the Japanese domestic market (JDM) got a little more power thanks to its upped compression ratio of 11.7 to 1.

The JDM variant has 250 horsepower and 161 lb.-ft. of torque. At the time of its release, the F20C had the most power per liter of any engine ever produced.

Honda engines have a reputation for being exceeding reliable, and the F20C is no exception to this rule. When well cared for, a Honda S2000 engine can last well into the 200,000-mile range. There are a few examples of S2000s with over 300,000 miles, as well.

Honda F20C Engine Fuel Economy

Though the F20C does fall into the same F-series engine family, you’d find in older Honda Accords and Honda Preludes, it stands alone in its remarkable power output.

However, it does crossover with its predecessors in terms of fuel economy. While the F20C is undoubtedly a performance-oriented engine, it does surprisingly well on the EPA fuel economy charts.

The 2003 Honda S2000, which is the final year of the AP1 generation, has a respectable rating of 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for a combined rating of 20 mpg. Compared to Honda’s economy cars like the Civic and Accord, it may not seem all that impressive. When considering the performance nature of this engine and the car as a whole, however, it is very impressive.

The AP1 S2000 and its F20C engine are iconic for a reason.

However, all good things must come to an end. While the F20C went out of production with the AP1 generation S2000, its replacement is equally exciting and impressive.

Honda S2000's Engine - VehicleHistory (3)

AP2 S2000 Engine Specs

The 2004 Honda S2000 was the first model year of the AP2 generation. While the outside look of the S2000 remains fairly similar, the biggest differences are underneath. The AP2 has softer spring rates and more road-friendly suspension than the AP1’s more track-focused setup. Perhaps the most notable difference is the use of the F22C1 engine instead of the F20C.

The most prominent difference between the two engines is the F22C1’s lower rev limiter. While the AP1 S2000 is notorious for its 9,000 rpm rev limiter, the AP2 S2000 has a limit of 8,200 rpm.

While this is still remarkably high compared to most production vehicles, some S2000 fans were disappointed with the lower rev limiter. The reduction comes as an answer to a critical response stating that the AP1 S2000 had lackluster low-end torque performance. Increasing the displacement allowed an expansion of the torque band. Thus, producing more low-end torque and performance.

Like the F20C, the F22C1 is constructed entirely of aluminum and features standard dual overhead camshaft construction with multi-port electronic fuel injection. It is effectively the same inline four-cylinder engine as the F20C with an increased stroke length to 90.7 millimeters.

As a result, the F22C1 has a peak power output of 241 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. It has a compression ratio of 11.1 to 1. While it does not quite keep up with the impressive power-per-liter of the F20C, it is still a potent engine for its size.

Like the F20C, the F22C1 is as reliable as any other Honda engine. So long as its oil is changed, regular maintenance is kept up with, and it’s generally well-cared for, an F22C1 will go for hundreds of thousands of miles.

Honda F22C1 Fuel Economy

The F22C1 is also quite impressive in terms of fuel economy, just like its predecessor.

The 2009 Honda S2000 is the final year of not only the AP2 generation but the S2000 as a whole. According to the EPA ratings, the 2009 S2000 is capable of up to 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for a combined average of 21 mpg.

This fuel economy rating combined with the more driver-friendly suspension setup of the AP2 S2000 makes for a lot more reasonable daily driver than the AP1.

While either variant of the S2000 engine can be decent on fuel, it’s worth noting that these figures absolutely exclude track and spirited driving. That may seem like common sense, but some may get excited about the fuel economy numbers without realizing how they may end up driving it. If you’re taking it to a track or on spirited drives through windy mounted roads, be prepared to see these fuel economy numbers drop regardless of which S2000 engine you have!

Honda S2000's Engine - VehicleHistory (4)

S2000 Engine Performance Ability

If adding power is up your alley, both the F20C and F22C1 are incredibly capable engines in completely stock format. Many people add turbochargers to these engines and safely see upwards of 500 horsepower without adding strengthened internal components. The record for a stock example is currently a turbocharged F22C1 making 704 wheel horsepower.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon for S2000 engines to be found in race cars of all shapes and sizes. A handful of circle track cars and Bonneville Salt Flats speed record cars powered by the F-series engines from the S2000.

If extreme performance isn’t your thing, but you still want a bit more grunt out of an S2000 engine, there are virtually endless options for exhausts, tunes, intakes, and much more for these engines. It is as easy as bolting on parts to make your S2000 engine your own. With a little mechanical know-how, you can build your dream roadster with off-the-shelf parts.

Honda S2000's Engine - VehicleHistory (5)

The End of the S2000 Era

Unfortunately, the increased market for crossover vehicles in place of fun, affordable sports cars ultimately brought the demise of the Honda S2000. Along with the end of the S2000’s production went both the F20C and F22C1.

Despite their discontinuation, the S2000 and its engines leave a long-lasting mark on the car world. Their simple and lightweight construction combined with ultimate performance and incredible rev range leave an electrifying feeling running through you for hours after you leave the driver’s seat. If you haven’t experienced one of these lovely engines, we highly recommend you get behind the wheel of one.

S2000s are getting more collectible and more expensive. However, there are still plenty available for sale from both the AP1 and AP2 generations. If you’re in the market, though, you’d better act quick. Finding one around the $10,000 mark is nearly impossible now. Clean and well-maintained low mileage examples are selling for nearly $30,000.

As always, when shopping for a used car, we highly recommend using our free VIN research tool to get the details on a vehicle’s owner and accident history. Furthermore, it’s always a good thing to see maintenance records and repairs if the seller has them available. One thing is for sure; if you do wind up with an S2000, you’re going to have a great time on just about any road.

Photos: Honda

Frequently Asked Questions

Apr 14, 2022

What kind of engine does S2000 have?

The Honda S2000 comes with either an F20C or F22C1 depending on the year. In North America, you can find the F20C in the 2000 through 2003 S2000, and the F22C1 is in the 2004 through 2009 model years.

The F20C makes 237 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque, VTEC actuates around 5,500 RPM, and the rev limit on the engine is 8,900 RPM. The F22C1 has 240 horsepower, 162 pound-feet of torque, VTEC actuates at 6,000 RPM, and the rev limit is slightly lower at 8,200 RPM.

Both of these engines are fantastic and known to be reliable and fun sporty motors that gain revs fast. The S2000 also has a very big aftermarket modification community around it. If you want to get more power out of your engine there are simple bolt-on modifications like intakes and exhausts, all the way up to more complex things like superchargers. The S2000 was one of the great small sportscars of the 2000s and their motor is legendary for being so high revving.

How much does a Honda S2000 engine cost?

The engine in an S2000 is very in demand because it is a high revving motor that is reliable, or easy to modify depending on what you are looking to do with it. Due to those facts, you can usually find an engine for $4000 to $6500 depending on the condition.

Usually, the cheaper engines on the market are going to have some miles on them and might be remanufactured. A remanufactured engine can make sense though because they usually have all new internal components, and sometimes come with a warranty as well. The more expensive motors will usually be low mileage original ones that have never been modified before.

The S2000 engine is legendary and with the aftermarket community, they are in demand. The relatively low production numbers on the S2000 also means that there are not a lot of spare engines out on the market these days.

Is the Honda S2000 fast?

The S2000 is not considered to be too fast of a car compared to the modern sports cars that you see in 2021. The S2000 had only around 240 horsepower and was able to do 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. The car also had an electronically limited top speed of 149 miles per hour.

Where the S2000 excelled was with the steering, the suspension, and being light and nimble. The S2000 is much more at home driving around a track or doing events like autocross than it is in a drag race or street racing. They were built using a lot of the technology from Honda's racing division to be quick and agile rather than outright fast.

The S2000 has a bit of a cult following because it is such a fun sporty car. It is one of those vehicles that does not need to have an insane amount of horsepower to be fun. Due to the growing following, you can expect to see prices on clean low mileage S2000s to increase.

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Braden Carlson

An automotive journalist for over six years, Braden Carlson has contributed to a variety of auto websites, including Team Speed and LS1Tech. When he’s not writing or under one of his project cars, you’ll often find him producing video and photography for his "Cursed Forever" YouTube channel.

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