Car review - Honda S2000

LeVeL

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Took my friend's recently-acquired S2000 out today. Its a 2000 with 42k on the clock; black with red interior.

First things first - getting in is a bit tricky (as is getting out) since the car is low, the seats are narrow, the roof is low, the door sill is high, and since your legs are almost straight when seated its a bit challenging (even compared to his old CRX) to sit down, as you have to stick your feet way out in front of you and under the dash. Once in I was comfortable but there wasn't any room to move about. The door is right up against your elbow and the transmission tunnel is fairly high - good to rest your right arm on though. The tech dash is cool. I didn't think I'd like it, but its pretty nice actually.

Naturally, I couldn't start it for 20 seconds untul I remembered that it has a start button. The electric power steering, which still works even if the engine is off, can be easily turned with one finger. The shifter is great - nice and notchy, just the way I like it, and the throw is short and precise. Below 5-6000rpm the S2000 feels no faster than my Accord. Its more responsive, sure, since it doesn't take the time to shift on its own, but certainly not quick. Once vtec kicks in (yo!) it becomes a quick little car but, once again, I wasn't impressed. Even after driving a 150hp Accord, I was far from blown away. The engine is pretty quiet and you have to look at the tach a lot, since it sounds pretty much the same at 7000rpm as it does at 9000. The powerband is short but it does wake the car up a bit. As I said though, I expected it to be faster.

I didn't get a chance to drive it anywhere near the limit, as I was on the street, but I can report that the ride is relatively harsh. This is not a very good daily driver or long distance cruiser. The steering is a lot quicker than in the Accord, naturally, but also compared to almost all cars that I've driven, and offers a decent amount of feedback (once again, I wasn't exactly blown away). The handling limit is definitely higher than in my car, although at the speeds that I was driving at I bet its mostly down to the tires - summer performance vs all-seasons. Pulling up at a red light was a reminder of just how small the car is - I'm 5'10" and the driver's seat has been lowered with new brackets (my friend is 6'7") and I still had to duck down to see the light. My buddy reported after a recent autocross that the car is really snappy at the limit and doesn't really give out warning signs before sliding.

The S2000 is not a good daily driver but neither is it a hardcore autocross warrior. Its nice to putter around town hitting vtec when the popo aren't looking, and I'm sure it would be a lot of fun on a back road, but I walked away feeling like its nothing more than a weekend toy - not a daily driver and not an all-out driver's car. A wider powerband, more power and torque, and a little more room inside (like I said, I'm 5'10" and found it pretty darn snug) would make the S2000 pretty awesome.
 

Wizegui

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Hmmm, I wonder what it would have been like if Honda had given the S2000's 2.2 vtec engine a bit of forced induction (ala the engine from the RDX) or give it a full out V6?
 

Mark355

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I have a 2006 which has the larger 2.2 liter motor, lower 8k redline, and revised rear suspension to reduce snap oversteer that was a characteristic of the first generation AP1 (years 00 - 03).

Yes, entry and egress can be hard especially in tight garages. The cabin is not spacious, to say the least. The car sits low and steep entranceways need to be negotiated carefully or else you'll introduce the nose to the pavement. The windshield is small so stop too far below a redlight and you'll be waiting for the person behind you to start honking before you know it's safe to go. SUVs tower over you and trucks have trouble seeing you. The interior is sparse--you have aircon and a CD player. There isn't much sound deadening so it's loud. You not only hear the motor which screams in the upper rev band, but the differential and transmission whine. It's one of the loudest cars that I've been in that left the factory that way and so loud that the stereo struggles to overcome the wind, tire, and mechanical noise. I hardly use mine. The ride is unforgiving and chassis stiff. You feel every stone in the road. On the move, the car constantly requires your attention. You change gear A LOT. The 6-spd transmission wants precise rev-matched downshifts much moreso than most cars. The car reacts badly and almost dangerously when you're driving hard if you don't rev-match well. Even with the new suspension geometry, the rear WILL come around on you quickly if you do something dumb. The car eats rear tires. There's seating for you, your girlfriend, and no one else.

And I drive mine daily. Fucking love it. Not a driver's car? I'm stumped.
 

Spectre

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The key to having fun in an S2K is to drive it like you'd ride a sportbike, IMHO. Top of the rev range and screaming away. :D
 

_HighVoltage_

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What is the fuel consumption on these when you drive them at 7-8k rpm?
 

motogpboy

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My brother has an 03 and I have to say it's one of the most fun cars to drive I've ever sat in. The closest I've come to the feeling of riding my motorcycle in a car. The steering response is just out of this world and it's so much fun that the impracticalities of it being used as a daily driver are meaningless. Any trip no matter how long or short (and I've done plenty of both kinds in my brother's) are simply a joy.
 

_HighVoltage_

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That's bad, especially with a car like the S2000 which has to be thrashed all the time if you want some power.
 

LeVeL

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I really wanted to love the s2k but like I said, I was left with a feeling that its too cramped and uncomfortable to be a good daily driver, but at the same time its not something that I'd love to fling down a back road because you have to absolutely thrash the engine to get anything out of it. Honestly, below 6000rpm its no better than a civic. Thinking back to when I drove a Miata last, I think it was more fun than the S2000. The car just felt alive underneath you, even though the steering is not as sharp, and although its definately slower than the Honda, the Mazda felt better under acceleration - you don't really notice the lack of torque and the powerband is much fatter. Idk, like I said, it's my best friend's car so I'm sure I'll get to drive it a lot more and even autocross it... maybe my opinion will change.
 

LeVeL

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Dug up an S2000 dyno graph:



Looks like I was right on the money with the 6000rpm figure. As you can see, torque is low throughout the whole rev range, and power spikes up around 6k when the cam profile switches. That's where the car starts moving. A flatter hp curve and a higher torque curve would make the motor great, imo. It'd be a very nice drive.
 

Jakain

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Around the city, high-revving vehicles with relatively peaky powerbands can be somewhat of a pain and not fun to drive. Especially if you sacrifice a substantial amount of creature comfort which you will @ these prices and performance.

I like the 5-60 figure a lot since thats more real world applicable than dropping the clutch @ a high RPM to get that magazine 0-60 time; and the s2000 along with the RX-8 have relatively slow times with the s2k getting about 7 seconds IIRC.

Definitely have to take the s2000 to a track or at least drive it with the top down on a curvy street to really see what its about.
 

Inspectah13

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My buddies got an AP1 and the 10k redline is epic, but he freely admits taht as far as sports cars go it has its issues, not the least of which he said was disturbingly rapid break fade when he went to a track day, like he cuold only do a couple laps before he had to come in and let em cool off. I didnt get to go so i didnt get to see it first hand, but if it was half as baad as he said than the factory breaks on the s2k 'sports' car are horribly lacking.

Though in normal city driving obviously it would never be an issue, but as a track day performer it fails because it cant stop and so will eventuall have to go into the pit to rest or wind up in the wall.

My buddy definitely said that his AP1 had snap oversteer issues as well.

Still, the AP1 engine is fantastic, 10k redline in a roadcar is BA imo.
 

stevanford1

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My buddies got an AP1 and the 10k redline is epic, but he freely admits taht as far as sports cars go it has its issues, not the least of which he said was disturbingly rapid break fade when he went to a track day, like he cuold only do a couple laps before he had to come in and let em cool off. I didnt get to go so i didnt get to see it first hand, but if it was half as baad as he said than the factory breaks on the s2k 'sports' car are horribly lacking.

Though in normal city driving obviously it would never be an issue, but as a track day performer it fails because it cant stop and so will eventuall have to go into the pit to rest or wind up in the wall.

My buddy definitely said that his AP1 had snap oversteer issues as well.

Still, the AP1 engine is fantastic, 10k redline in a roadcar is BA imo.
Your friend went on a track day with standard brakes ? :? S2000s have a 9000 rpm rev limit.
 

Inspectah13

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Your friend went on a track day with standard brakes ? :? S2000s have a 9000 rpm rev limit.
Yea he joined and S2000 club and they had a track day and he just went for it. :lol:

And you are absolutely correct, i am just used to just rounding it up to ten for effect when talking about the car to people who only sorta get it i guess, sorry.
 
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p0w3r

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I have a 2006 which has the larger 2.2 liter motor, lower 8k redline, and revised rear suspension to reduce snap oversteer that was a characteristic of the first generation AP1 (years 00 - 03).

Yes, entry and egress can be hard especially in tight garages. The cabin is not spacious, to say the least. The car sits low and steep entranceways need to be negotiated carefully or else you'll introduce the nose to the pavement. The windshield is small so stop too far below a redlight and you'll be waiting for the person behind you to start honking before you know it's safe to go. SUVs tower over you and trucks have trouble seeing you. The interior is sparse--you have aircon and a CD player. There isn't much sound deadening so it's loud. You not only hear the motor which screams in the upper rev band, but the differential and transmission whine. It's one of the loudest cars that I've been in that left the factory that way and so loud that the stereo struggles to overcome the wind, tire, and mechanical noise. I hardly use mine. The ride is unforgiving and chassis stiff. You feel every stone in the road. On the move, the car constantly requires your attention. You change gear A LOT. The 6-spd transmission wants precise rev-matched downshifts much moreso than most cars. The car reacts badly and almost dangerously when you're driving hard if you don't rev-match well. Even with the new suspension geometry, the rear WILL come around on you quickly if you do something dumb. The car eats rear tires. There's seating for you, your girlfriend, and no one else.

And I drive mine daily. Fucking love it. Not a driver's car? I'm stumped.
you drive a s2k through the snow and NYC potholes on a daily basis? thats pretty hardcore:|
 

Mark355

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you drive a s2k through the snow and NYC potholes on a daily basis? thats pretty hardcore:|
Haha, I'm upstate near Albany but the snow and potholes are just the same. I do my best to avoid road imperfections so I'm constantly weaving and swerving. If there's a big hole that's unavoidable in my lane, I'll cross the double yellow if no one is coming and I feel I can do it safely. I don't do it too often. I don't know the fine for crossing the yellow if I'm caught by the doughnut squad, but I'm sure it's cheaper than $900 for a new wheel and tire so fuck it. When you do hit a pothole, the car is so stiff that all you hear is a reassuring THUD. The catchers for the softop rattle on occasion but everything else feels like it's set in stone.

This winter will be my first with the s2k (and RWD). I plan on buying AP1 16" wheels and wrapping them in Blizzak WS-60s. I hear the s2k can be quite tame in the snow if you take it easy and have the proper footing, so we'll see if I survive. No VTEC during the cold months. :)

Took some pictures the other night and this was my fav:
 

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LeVeL

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lol same friend who has the s2000 I drove, had a CRX with 500lbs springs (400 in the back I think)... yes, in a car what weighed under 2000lbs with him in it. Your teeth hurt after driving around in that thing. The good news is that I got so used to that car that my Accord feels like a limo and the S2000 felt a lot softer (albeit obviously firmer than my aforementioned honduh). Also, I remember taking an older Odyssey minivan down to a kart track and it wobbled so much on the highway that I felt nauseous. Stiff cars are uncomfortable but at least when you hit a bump there's only that one big initial shock, instead of jello-like wobble for the next 10 minutes
 
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ChaoZ

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I can't wait until I get to test a S2000 and compare it to my Miata.
The high beltline kinda sucks though, especially for a convertible. Nothing better than hanging one arm out the window with the top down.
 

LeVeL

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Update! My buddy invited me to come out to an autocross and run his car. Naturally, I accepted.

Cliffs: want.

First things first: the S2000 turned out to be a decent highway cruiser. Yes, you have to shift a lot and you have to go down to 3rd to pass and even then its not very fast, but its still not bad. Top down cruising is great, even approaching triple digits. The ride is not bad (contrary to what I said before) and the noise is not a problem at all, even when the engine is revving at 4000+rpm.

At the event my first run was... poor. It was my first time driving the car hard (come to think of it, it was my first time driving RWD hard) and I was sideways for half the course. After that though I got used to the car very quickly and by, say, my 4th run I was posting decent times. Btw, at this point I'd like to point out that RWD owns. Hard. The feeling of the back end hanging on the very edge of grip and slide and controlling it with your right foot is orgasmic (no red leather seats were harmed during the event). I didn't find the car snappy at all, to be honest. The breakaway was a bit sudden, yes, but its so easy to predict when it will slide that I didn't find it a problem at all. In fact, I found it to be a lot of fun and easy to control. The brakes are good, the suspension is good, the balance is great, the steering is very quick (although it could do with more feel). I really like the S2000 now :) And I REALLY need a Miata now. Anyways, the end result for the two of us was this:



:D
 

frankiess

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I like this review. Haven't had a chance to test an S2000, but I'd always thought it would be my dream car when I do. .. which is actually one of the reasons I try to avoid testing it.

But am I right in saying that the car would be perfect if one of these were bolted to the exhaust?

 
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