Launched in 1999, the S2000 was hondas 50th birthday present to itself. The 2 seater sportscar featured a special version of the amazing 2 litre V-Tec engine that produced 240 bhp @8300 rpm and revved to an amazing 9000 rpm. Coupled to a slick 6 speed close ratio transmission that featured a Limited Slip Differential, the S2000 was a bit of a Jeckyl and Hyde machine.
Around town the S2000 is not unlike many other japanese cars, well mannered, quiet, reasonably refined if a little lacking in torque, but out on the backroads it’s a different animal altogether. Stomp on the loud pedal until the F1 inspired digital tacho hits around 6000rpm and the engine note changes, the v-tec engages and just when you think you should be changing gear all hell breaks loose. Keep your foot planted to the bulkhead right up till 9000 rpm and you become aware that this is no ordinary road car engine. The close ratio gearbox means that when you do swap cogs with a satisfying snick, the engine never drops out of that magic power band and you find yourself screaming up the road like you just stole a full on racing car.
There are 2 main variants of the S2000, the first generation produced from 1999 known as the AP1, and the AP2 produced from 2003 till production ended in 2009 though the AP2 was never produced for the uk market.
The main differences between the two cars are mainly engine and suspension changes. The AP1 uses a 2.0 litre engine that revs up to 9000rpm, while the AP2 (not used for the UK market) featured a 2.2 litre tuned for slightly more low down torque and has a redline at 8500 rpm.
The early cars were known to have had a bit of an oversteer issue and reviews were initially lukewarm, but in 2002 Honda introduced suspension changes with the aim to make the car slightly easier to drive on the limit. It worked, reviews praised the S2000 and it was now a genuine rival for Porsche’s 2.7 Boxster.
S2000′s are now a proper performance bargain with good UK used cars trading for less than 7k. Depending on budget, the best choice at the lower end of the market would be to look for the glass rear windowed (revised suspension) car produced between 2002 and 2003 . UK Cars produced after 2004 feature more revisions to the chassis and suspension to eliminate oversteer, changes to the gearbox (carbon fibre rather than brass synchronisers) 17 inch wheels and styling changes such as new bumpers, LED rear lights and revised headlights.
Parkers S2000 review
Auto Express driver power survey
Honest John review
Petrolblog S2000 review
Car Magazine S2000 special edition (2009) review
Evo News (Nov 2003)
Evo S2000 vs BMW Z4 review
Evo Long term test (August 2004)
Evo Long term test (october 2004)
Evo Long term test (January 2005)
Evo Long term test (May 2005)
Evo Long term test (August 2005)