White Noise : Honda S2000 (AP2)

Car Specifications
2156cc, 16-valves
Cylinder Layout: 
In-line 4-cylinders
Top Speed: 
180km/h (electronically limited)
6-Speed Manual
240bhp at 7800rpm
221Nm at6500-7500rpm
  • VTEC yo!
  • Evergreen styling relevant to this day

Cult Car Central revisits the Honda S2000 (AP2)
Vital Statistics
Car: Honda S2000 (AP2)
Owners: 1
Original Registration: 5th September 2007
Mileage: 67+k km
Revisited: 25th May 2010

When the topic of FR (short for Front-engined Rear-wheel drive) roadsters is raised, the Mazda Miata MX-5, or Eunos Roadster, is invariably brought up, with whole armies of drivers and enthusiastic non-drivers alike pumping the air in affirmation of the little Mazda's status as roost ruler. As much as we can appreciate the first generation Miata (or NA) for what it offered (lightweight, no frills motoring, compactness and agililty), its time was pretty much over when the Honda S2000 appeared on the scene.

In spite of its form factor (i.e. a convertible duh), the truth is, the many devotees of Honda's VTEC wizardry weren't all that concerned with the 'topless' motoring experience that the Honda S2000 offered...

A large part of choosing the S2000 was the simple fact that, with the exception of the MR (Mid-engined Rear wheel drive) NSX, there wasn't another modern sportscar in Honda's line-up that offered rear-wheel drive.

In fact, we've actually heard of owners who either a) never deployed the roof of their cars and/or b) installed factory/aftermarket hard-tops to the cars. Of course, having a drop-top on a car that could scream to 8000+rpm was an added bonus when blasting through empty tunnels with an aftermarket exhaust, extractor and intake kit, but it was hardly the be-all-end-all that so many make it out to be.

Truth is, had Honda given us a S2000 coupe, we reckon a lot of people would still have gone out and bought one too. You see, the hardcore addicts look at the VTEC tricked-out engines at the heart of Honda's sports machines; it's less about the pose factor and more about the 'go' factor. 

Designed from the ground-up to be a roadster, the S2000 features a High X-Bone Frame, which was bespoke to the car. The raised center tunnel features a strong boxed-type structure that connects to the front and rear side members in a single horizontal plane.

Furthermore, completely straight front side members are connected to the floor tunnel, sidesills, and floor frame to form a "three-point support structure". This simple and rather elegant solution effectively resulted in an open body with the rigidity and collision safety equal to a closed roof vehicle. 

With the S2000, Honda's plan was to create a sportscar that embodied certain qualities that almost echoed the original MX-5's... but added a healthy dose of high-rpm punch from the F-series engine (originally launched as a 2L, this would evolve into a 2.2L as found in this car) into its DNA for a heady mix of adroit dynamics from its perfect weight distribution, power from its high revving 2L VTEC engine and of course, the exhilarating soundtrack.

Since its launch, the S2000 has gone through subtle revisions, not least of which is the change from the 2L F20C (see link to model evolution next paragraph) to the 2.2L F22C engine in the Japan Domestic Market (which already saw service for some time in the North American market due to their appetite for more torque, about 6 per cent more torque than the 2L F20C).

However, for the export market (up to the point the car was discontinued), local Honda distributor in Singapore and certain right-hand drive export markets like Australia and the United Kingdom continued to offer the S2000 with the original higher revving F20C 2L.

Read our initial impressions of the S2000 (AP1) when it was first launched in Singapore HERE

Impressions of the AP1.5 (light face-lift, but retaining the 9k redline F20C engine) HERE

For an evolution of the S2000 range, click HERE

If you clicked through the links above, most people would have realised something pretty remarkable (especially in this day and age where it's always about the 'new')... the Honda S2000 remains largely unchanged since the day it started production. This is the kind of timeless aesthetics (almost 10 years) that many car manufacturers can only fantasize about, yet precious few ever attain.

Unfortunately, the S2000 was always a bit of a cult hero, as it wasn't widely recognised (nor appreciated) by fair-weather 'enthusiasts'. In fact, at one time or another, many S2000 owners would have had to correct some random self-styled 'car guru' who would mistake the car for either a Miata or a RX-8 (based on the S2000's front profile)!

Back to the Miata, the main issue was it never quite evolved with the times. Although it retained its communicative steering and sharp dynamics, it never had the same kind of punch that the S2000 had right from the start.

Case in point is the latest iteration of the Miata, which has been upsized to a 2L engine (same as the S2000), but falls short of even the 200bhp mark. Although the S2000's weak point was its steering feel, it more than made up for it in almost every other regard.

The S2000's cabin was executed in a direction that gave driver-oriented function priority over form. All major controls were within easy reach of the driver and even the head-unit could be tucked out of sight under a cover to minimise distractions on the track.

Although it seemed gimmicky at first introduction, the digital dashboard, which takes its cue from racing cars, has stood the test of time well, i.e. it looks no worse today than when it was first introduced!

Like most performance cars, the S2000 features a starter button, a striking Red amidst the otherwise black interior. The key still has to be inserted and turned to 'pre-ignition', but the engine only cranks when one depresses the button.

The reason for this becomes clear if one has spun out and stalled on the track: remember how we mentioned with the key turned, the car is already in pre-ignition mode? A quick press of the starter is all it takes to quickly revive the car and off you go again out of harm's way...!

The seats are well-sculpted and help to hang on to your body as you're caning the car hard. Like almost all Honda cars, the S2000's 6-speed gearshifts are well-oiled and precise, with no vagueness to worry about.

Like Honda's other DOHC VTEC engines, the rev-happy 4-pot in the S2000 can be redlined to kingdom come and the sound of this thoroughbred being put through its paces is still one of life's greatest aural pleasures.

A screaming VTEC engine, one of the best gear-shifts in the business and a near-perfect weight distribution all wrapped in an edgy timeless shape that is easy-on-the-eye help the S2000 achieve cult car status. The fact that it has recently been discontinued and Honda seems to have abandoned its programme for sports-cars only serve to further aid its cause. - mp (photos, text)
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