2000 Honda S2000 new car reviews

The recently-introduced Honda S2000 makes a staggering 240 horsepower from only 1997cc of engine displacement. While that magic number comes at a staggering 8300 rpm, it's still pretty amazing. (Speaking of high engine revs, the car's max torque of 153 ft.-lbs. comes at an equally-dizzying 7500 rpm.)

Like several other late-model Honda products, the S2000 roadster makes so much power from so little displacement thanks to some careful engineering: four valves per cylinder, 11.0:1 compression ratio, VTEC variable valve control and Honda's proven Multi-Point Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) fuel system. While not as torquey as the recent sports cars released by BMW and Porsche, we didn't find the S2000 painful to drive. Depending on the background of the person doing the driving, the S2000 seemed either perfectly normal or slightly lagging at low engine speeds. A 4.1:1 final drive ratio and six-speed gearbox allow the driver to keep the engine in the meat of the powerband, however.

The car feels light on its feet, and a 2809-pound official curb weight surprised us. When tossed around, the S2000 feels more like a 2200-pound Miata or MR2 Spyder. A double-wishbone front and rear suspension, Coaxial Electric Power Rack-and-Pinion Steering and tight chassis made the car a pleasure to drive. (Although part of that stiff chassis requires a brace that runs across the cockpit's floor, just forward of the seats.)

The S2000 is also civilized, thanks to a power top, excellent CD sound system, leather seats, high-intensity discharge headlights and decent-sized trunk. We found the car a blast to drive, whether around town or on the highway.

About the only debatable items are the digital dash system and big red start button. While both carry race-car styling to the masses, we wonder whether conventional gauges and a normal key arrangement would keep things simpler and less expensive. Speaking of price, the S2000 carries an MSRP of $32,000, although dealer were adding some creative options to make the most out of the initial demand. (Should locking lug nuts cost $399?)

To us, the S2000 is a grand-slam and a worthy competitor in the premium (and semi-premium) sports car class. Makes us wonder if a 1.6-liter, slightly stripped-down version would make the ultimate Miata and MR Spyder fighter. With a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of the Civic Si, a hypothetical 1.6-liter Honda S1600 could be another winner.

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