2008 Honda S2000 CR new car reviews

Better than: a base S2000 on the track
But not as good as: a base S2000 on the street
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 88.27

The S2000 CR is a slightly different beast than the more pedestrian Honda roadsters that have been on the scene for the better part of a decade now. The S2000 has been and remains one of our favorite ways to enjoy going topless in the Florida sun. They’re fun, reliable cars that can easily win a trophy at a local autocross, then get you to work in the morning. Add Honda reliability to the equation, and you’re certainly dealing with a winning recipe.

The CR, however, is more of a take-no-prisoners solution. While the engineers left the S2000's already glorious engine alone, they looked hard at the rest of the car and found some opportunities to enhance performance. Gone is the effortless convertible top, replaced by a handsome body-colored aluminum hardtop in an effort to reduce weight.

There’s also a rather large wing perched atop the decklid that, according to press materials, reduces lift. The rear wing unquestionably reduces rearward visibility, since it sits right in the middle of the already small rear window. While the hardtop and the wing are the biggest visual differences on the S2000 CR, there are myriad smaller details that Honda engineers have tweaked and twisted to help drivers find a few extra tenths out on course. These include revised suspension settings, a quicker steering rack and additional underbody bracing. All of the adding and subtracting of components from the standard S2000 results in a moderately significant 50 pound weight savings; the savings jumps to 99 pounds when the hardtop is removed. Math majors will note that Honda has developed a very feathery aluminum hardtop, and we wonder if the stiffening effect of installing the hardtop would overshadow the potential weight savings from removing it.

The interior of the S2000 CR remains the driver-focused experience it’s always been. Controls and instruments are easy to use, and the seats are very comfortable considering their sporting nature. All things considered, there isn’t much about the S2000 CR that we didn’t like. There were times that we missed the ability to put the top down and enjoy the sunshine, however. Before signing the check, make sure you want those last few tenths of a second badly enough to forgo the less capable but more flexible standard S2000.

Other staff views

Greg Voth
Greg Voth

Although I was not the biggest fan of the S2000 from the get-go, my thoughts about it quickly changed once I took it out on a day trip with my lovely girlfriend. The cramped feeling, squeaks and super-close-ratio six-speed gearbox didn't bother me one bit. While it was somewhat of a pain to drive in traffic, all those negative feelings went away once I was out on a two-lane road with the top off.

The top was the object of much internal strife. With the top on it keeps wind noise down and is quite civil to drive. However, every time you want the top off you need a friend/family member/bum to help you take it off, plus a place to store it indoors. Finding help wasn't a big deal, but I did have trouble finding an open spot in my garage to store it. Storing it inside the house in an option, but you will probably start to lose favor with said friend/family member/maybe even that bum.

The other problem with the top is that you had better check the forecast and bring appropriate clothing if you plan on being out for a while. I got stuck driving 60 miles home at 10 p.m. with just a T-shirt on in low-50-degree wheather. I both rolled up the windows and blasted the heat, but remained a bit chilly--my fault for not following the lead of the boy scouts and being prepared. Ditto on the balding forehead and lack of sunscreen. If I had to buy one I would choose the soft top option.

Now on to what I loved about the car. It is fast, it turns and handles amazingly well. There was no point at which the car felt unstable, even over bumps and questionable road surfaces the S2000 never skipped a beat. It makes good sounds too both from the engine bay and from the radio. Some people might even think it looks good. I personally could do without the added front and rear spoilers. The brakes make you feel like you threw it in reverse and it worked. The car makes short work of passing slow moving campers and is pretty vicious if you move high into the RPM range. The interior is comfortable even on a little longer jaunt. While I am not particularly a fan of the Knight Rider digital gauges they are easy to read and do their job well.

Overall I was impressed with the car despite my initial lack of interest. It would be perfect for a weekend warrior who knows how to keep sunscreen and a sweatshirt handy. The hard top also allows you to be able to drive to work on monday with out disrupting the hair do.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath

It's hard to drive any roadster without coming back to a comparison, but the S2000 seems to be a worthy contender in almost any company. Had I still been living in up north, I may have held the firm suspension settings against it, but on the glass-smooth roads of the Sunshine state the S2000 felt terrific. Despite the track-oriented nature, I was impressed by the comfortable seats and conveniently located controls. It could never be my primary transportation, but I'd be happy to have one as a "fun" car. Early models are starting to become dangerously reasonable on the used market, as well.

Scott Lear
Scott Lear

While it's difficult to appreciate this car within the speed-limited confines of the greater Daytona Beach area, we ended up with another S2000 CR during a recent weekend in California prior to the Ultimate Track Car Challenge. At Buttonwillow, the CR was an absolute blast, and had more than enough brakes, power and precision to make each lap a joy. Throw some R-compound tires on it and it would be even better; it's not quite radical enough for Type R badges, but the CR a fine sendoff to Honda's delightful roadster.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

I had mixed feelings with this one at first. The white car you see here visited us in Florida, and I drove it down to West Palm Beach for a meeting. On the highway, it's kind of choppy. A regular S2000 is a little stiff, so that's saying something. Plus between the wing and the head pods, making lane changes takes a little bit of a leap of faith. The wing (both because I'm not really a wing guy and the fact it blocked my view) bothered me more than the suspension. The front cow catcher also didn't roll my socks up and down.

Then we had another one while out in California and I ran it at a NASA HPDE. On the track the car totally fell into its element. It was the absolutely perfect no nonsense track car. All we did was check the oil and tire pressures before the event. That was it. It was super-easy on tires, easy on gas and actually easy to drive. Totally loved it.

About the biggest downside of the S2000 is that it got me checking out the classifieds for one.

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View comments on the GRM forums
darcyw None
4/16/10 11:14 p.m.

hmmmm...so to go with an A/C equipped one or not? cr or standard s2000...decisions, decisions.

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