The Honda S2000 Is A Grown Up Miata That Deserves To Be Reborn (2024)

The Honda S2000 is a celebration of Honda's motorsport lineage. For Honda's 50th anniversary, the Japanese automaker wanted to do something special. Something timeless that would be their pure expression of driving pleasure. The plan was to create the ultimate roadster. Starting with a blank sheet of paper and a dream, the end result was the S2000.

Now it's been over a decade since the end of production of the AP2 back in 2009. But even today, the Honda roadster holds its weight as one of the greatest sports cars of all time. In our modern automotive market, even enthusiast models have become diluted and emotionless. The Honda S2000 stands as a reminder of putting the pure visceral experience of driving first.

RELATED: The Honda S2000 20th Anniversary Edition Makes Us Yearn for the Roadster's Return

Honda S2000

8.50 / 10

Key Features

  • Front-Engined Read-Wheel Drive
  • 50/50 Weight-Distribution
  • HID Head-Lights
  • Electrically-Powered Soft Top
  • Cruise Control
  • Keyless Entry / Power Doors/ Power Windows

Specifications

  • Model: Honda S2000
  • Engine: 2.2-liter 4-cylinder
  • Power Output: 240 HP
  • Torque: 162 LB-FT
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive

Pros

  • Timeless Design
  • High-Revving Engine With Enough Oomph
  • Stick Shift And Agile Chassis Offer An Engaging Drive

Cons

  • Finding Clean Unmodified Examples
  • Stiff-Ride Quality
  • Limited Cargo Room

Honda S2000 Performance And Capability

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For generations, Honda has established itself as an enthusiast's brand. We can't forget that the company began with a passion for racing motorcycles back in the 1950s. This lineage made its way into their first production sports roadster, the S500. It is the second production car ever made by Honda. At the same time, Honda had begun participating in Formula One as an engine supplier. Fast forward 50 years, the brand has accumulated six constructor's world championships.

Now cemented as a motorsports icon, Honda wanted to go back to its roots. They took the roadster ideology that they founded and revolutionized it. So, at the turn of the century, they only had one goal with their new roadster: to put driving first. As a result, Honda hit the nail on the end with the driving dynamics of the S2000.

Throughout Honda's entire vehicle line-up to date, there is only one car to challenge the experience of their ultimate roadster: the NSX, a supercar made to battle Ferrari. The S2000 meanwhile is not, but even then, the driving experience is unlike any other Honda to date.

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This is due in part to the heart and soul of the AP2 S2000: the F22C1 naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine. Nobody makes a 4-banger quite like Honda. With 240 horsepower and a 8,200 RPM fuel cut-off, the S2000's engine sings into frequencies you don't usually hear. Although the first generation AP1's F20C had a higher 9,000 RPM fuel cut, it lacked torque. This made daily driving the AP1, a bit lackluster when not bouncing off the rev-limiter.

Thus, with more displacement, the F22C1 made 10 percent more torque, totaling 162 pound-feet at 6,500 RPM. Those desiring high-strung thrills will still prefer the raw characteristics of the F20C. Yet, a bigger engine provides a more complete package for the daily driver. With about 120 horsepower per liter, the F22C1 is still one of the most impressive performance engines ever made. Complete with an updated 6-speed manual transmission, it's a match made in heaven.

The AP2 generation also offered chassis and suspension updates to the S2000. Playful yet composed, the AP2 S2000 is a blast to drive. Its double wishbone suspension provides go-kart levels of tactility. Different springs and shocks with a revised alignment increased stability. The subframe received a redesign to increase chassis rigidity. What the S2000 is, is a grown-up Mazda Miata. A little more of everything, but the same driving expression that made us fall in love with cars in the first place.

Far from its strongest quality, the AP2 S2000 still manages good fuel economy. With an average of 23.8 MPG Combined, that is an impressive number for any 2-seat sports car.

Honda S2000 AP2 Specs

Engine

F22C1 2.2-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower

240 @ 7,800 RPM

Torque

162 lb-ft. @ 6,500 RPM

Transmission

6-speed manual transmission

Drive Layout

Rear-wheel drive

0-60 MPH

6.2 seconds

RELATED: Why the Honda S2000 Was in a Class of its Own

Exterior Design

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As cars continue to increase in size across the board, the S2000 in traffic looks out of place. It is miniature in size even compared to modern sport roadsters. This is part of its appeal. The roof line sits low and the body looks compact. Yet, the more you look at it, the better it gets.

Each of the body lines are seamless, flowing from one into the next. Standard 17-inch aluminum wheels give it class and elegance. With the optional hardtop, the car looks aggressive and purpose-driven. Top-down cruising, be sure you'll be inspiring a lot of jealousy from on-lookers. The S2000 is a great-looking car from any angle. Honda ensured the design would be timeless. Now 20 years later, it still holds that quality. The S2000 is recognizable from a mile away. Its body demonstrates its performance in its design.

For the AP2 generation, the S2000 looks better than ever. Updated styling across the board makes it both more modern and attractive. New front and rear bumpers, headlights, LED tail lights, and oval exhaust tips were present. A common mod for AP1 owners is to update the exterior to the styling of the AP2. You can easily guess which one owners like more.

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Exterior Colors

Standard Colors

New Formula Red

Optional Colors

Berlina Black

Moon Rock Metallic

Imola Orange Pearl

Royal Navy Blue Pearl

Bermuda Blue Pearl

Nuerburgring Blue Metallic

New Indy Yellow Pearl

Monza Red Pearl

Silverstone Metallic

Deep Burgundy Metallic

Dimensions

Length

162.2. in

Width

68.9 in

Height

50.6 in

Wheelbase

94.5 in

Track Width

57.9 in (front) / 59.4 in (rear)

Cargo Space

5.0 cu-ft

RELATED: This 800-Mile Honda S2000 Is Being Sold For $150,000

Interior Design

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Modern car companies sell their sports cars boasting "driver-focused" interiors. Yet, if there was a true definition of that, it would be the S2000 interior. Honda didn't have a single oversight when designing the cabin.

Every single button or touchpoint is right at the palm of your hands. There are no instruments that stretch across the dash or 30+ inch infotainment systems. Every input you could ever make is within less than a foot distance of your hands on the wheel. Even the center console has a sliding lid to cover the radio unit. No distractions, no frills, only driving.

The standard leather seats are ergonomic and place you low in the cabin. You feel like you're sitting on the asphalt in the driver's seat. This gives the driver the feeling of being an extension of the chassis. This is further emphasized by the important touch points that give loads of feedback.

The steering wheel? Not a single button. Only leather to match the leather-trimmed aluminum shift knob and racing pedals. A single bright red push-to-start button was an impressive feature for its time. Now standard in the modern day, we appreciate Honda's attention to detail over two decades ago.

A true co*ckpit in function and design, the S2000 removes all fluff for the sake of the purity of driving. The instrument cluster remains one of the coolest designs we've ever seen. The long digital tachometer rewards you with bright coloration on every rev. A large central speedometer with a fuel gauge and coolant temp is all you get. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Even 20 years later, we are still impressed with details such as the central glass wind deflector and integrated roll bar speakers. There is a locking storage compartment between the seats and storage pockets in the footwell. Heated side mirrors are standard. These things remind us how much thought Honda put into making the S2000, a driver's dream car.

RELATED: This LS-Swapped and Turbocharged Honda S2000 Is the King of Tuner Vehicles

Honda S2000 Price, Availability, and Ownership

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Honda S2000 AP2 Price

Honda S2000 AP2

$34,935 (est)

Honda S2000 AP2 Club Racer

$36,935 (est)

When the AP2 first went on sale in 2004 it cost $34,935 MSRP. The AP2s production lifespan was short. By 2008, sales were down by 74 percent compared to 2002. Thus, there is a scarcity of these Japanese roadsters in good condition. Approximately 66,000 models made it to the U.S. At this point, many of these cars are over 20 years old. Thus, there are some considerations to take into account when buying one.

Depending on quality levels, prices for a used S2000, according to Classic.com can range from $10,000 to $30,000. If an S2000 is selling below those prices, it is most likely a salvage title or needs a lot of work. Due to the nature of the high-revving engine, the F22C1 may need major maintenance as it nears the 200k mark. Reliable if taken care of, though fragile with negligent ownership.

Hardtops can be thousands of dollars depending on the condition. Getting a perfect seal is not easy with aftermarket options. Finding an OEM one can be an adventure, that will hurt your head and wallet.

The only other spec available besides the base model is the ultra-rare Club Racer. With only 699 ever made, this exclusive model has been selling for sky-high prices. Several examples with low mileage have sold for over six figures. Is the CR S2000 worth that price because it has black lug nuts and a wing? Not a chance unless you bleed Honda red and have fat pockets.

Even though prices of the S2000 have multiplied in recent years, there is still no car to replicate it. It is everything you would ever want out of a Mazda Miata, but better in every way. Even more expensive competitors like the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4 feel tame and docile. Honda's heritage in roadsters is undeniable and the proof is in the experience. Test drive one and rev third gear all the way out to 8,200 RPM and you'll know what we mean.

But what about an all-new model? Well, there is a possibility, and here is everything you need to know about the next-gen Honda 2000.

The Honda S2000 Is A Grown Up Miata That Deserves To Be Reborn (2024)
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