1 Aug 1999
By CHRIS HARRIS
HONDA’S 50th Anniversary gift to the sports car world was one of its most intriguing.
Built on a bespoke front-mid engine rear-wheel drive platform, the S2000 lived somewhere between the Mazda MX-5 and Porsche Boxster in price and performance.
Exquisitely made in Honda’s NSX plant in Japan, the heart of the S2000 was also its soul – a 176kW at a scorching 8300rpm, 208Nm at 7500rpm 1997cc 2.0-litre double overhead cam 16-valve VTEC four-cylinder low-emissions engine mated to a crisp and precise six-speed manual gearbox.
Aided by a limited slip differential, excellent weight distribution, double wishbone suspension and extremely high body strength and rigidity, the S2000 offered sub-supercar performance and handling.
However Honda did modify the suspension tune during its years to eliminate some of the S2000’s tail-happy oversteer.
Anti-lock brakes, climate control air-conditioning, a CD stacker, leather trim, electric power steering, power windows an one of the world’s fastest powered soft-tops were part of the Honda’s package.
A glass rear window replaced the Perspex item from March ’02, while a raft of minor trim changes followed two years later. From early ’06 stability control was added, along with new wheels.
Along with exhilarating performance from its gem of a 2.0-litre VTEC engine, reliability and durability turned out to be another S2000 strong suit, with the model regularly scoring a top place in its class in owner surveys.