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First look: Honda's midlife S2000 facelift

Stroked S2000: Honda roadster gets a 2.2-litre engine for 2004.

Honda refreshes its Boxster challenger with a bigger engine and improved dynamics

20 Oct 2003

IT'S midlife facelift time for Honda's giant-killing S2000 roadster, with the two-seater Boxster rival set to appear at this week’s Tokyo motor show with revised styling, improved handling and a larger 2.2-litre version of the S2000 benchmark-setting engine.

Unfortunately, however, the more powerful, 2.2-litre S2000 is set to be a YS market-only model at this stage, with Honda Australia adding only a mildly facelifted S2000 to its range during late 2003, featuring a new leather colour and updated minor cosmetics.

But in a hint to come for Australia, beneath the Tokyo debutante’s bolder front and rear styling with triple-beam lenses, the US-only S2000 features a stroked version of the original 2.0-litre inline DOHC four-cylinder VTEC engine, which produces the same 176kW at a lower 7800rpm and slightly more torque at 6500rpm instead of 7500rpm.

The revised powerplant's effective powerband now begins at 3000rpm rather than 6000rpm, while meeting Californian Low Emission Vehicle standards.

Combined with a Torsen limited-slip differential and revised six-speed, manual transmission (with lower ratios for gears one to five and carbon synchronizers on all forward gears to replace brass double and triple cone synchronizers), new facelifted S2000 will claim 0-100km/h acceleration in less than six seconds.

In response to criticism of S2000's tight interior, the facelifted drop-top offers 20mm more shoulder and elbow room, redesigned centre console with two cupholders (previously one) and a one-touch sliding lid. There will also be new options including XM satellite radio and head restraint speakers.

New suspension tuning with larger 17-inch wheels (and 215/45 front, 245/40 rear tyres) is said to reduce ride harshness while increasing grip levels, and S2000's hybrid monocoque chassis has been strengthened in key areas to increase overall rigidity.

S2000 continues with 50/50 weight distribution, in-wheel double wishbone suspension and (retuned) electrically-assisted steering system, while new brake pad material aims to improve pedal feel and rear LED lights are now used.

The 2004 S2000 will be available in the US with paint colours including Berlina Black, GrandPrix White, New Formula Red, Rio Yellow Pearl, Suzuka Blue Metallic, Sebring Silver Metallic and Silverstone Metallic, plus a new red/black interior or an all-black interior.

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