Rate It: The Five-Cylinder-Powered, Honda S2000 Concept

By Colin Wood
Sep 21, 2020 | Honda, Rate It, Sport Study Model

The Honda S2000 may be well known for its high-revving inline-four, but that wasn't the case when its concept was revealed in 1995.

Back then it went by the name "Sport Study Model" (SSM), and under its hood wasn't a four-cylinder or even a six-cylinder engine. Instead, the SSM made do with a five-cylinder engine.

That engine—known internally as the G20—was a 2.0-liter inline-five that was most commonly found in the Japanese-market Honda Vigor and Inspire. (The North American market also got the G-series engine, though with a larger 2.5-liter displacement and placed in the Acura Vigor and the later 2.5 TL.)

That five-cylinder engine then transmitted its power to the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission adapted from the NSX.

The most interesting part of the concept, however, might have been the car’s actual design: The SSM was configured as a roofless, Barchetta-style coupe with separate "compartments" for both driver and passenger.

As a bonus, here's a fitting-for-1997 promotional video showcasing SSM's design and driving dynamics:

Would a five-cylinder engine have made the S2000 even more desirable, or is the F20 engine much better suited to the production car's character?

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View comments on the GRM forums
300zxfreak Reader
9/21/20 12:38 p.m.

There's no way that car would have turned out to be the S2000 that we know and love had it ended up with a five cylinder and automatic, yecchhh.  Thank you Honda. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/21/20 12:45 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

How about the inline-five backed with a real six-speed? Then it could have been called something hip like the 256.

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/21/20 12:58 p.m.

According to Wikipedia, the G20 made 160 hp at 6700 RPM. Combining a more sedate, cruiser-like drivetrain with a less practical overall design does not add up. A no-roof, super-light barchetta version of the S2000 should have an even more psychotic high winding engine, and if you could somehow make the manual transmission an even crazier option (straight-cut gears, maybe?), they should do it.

DirtyBird222 UberDork
9/21/20 1:14 p.m.

Thea headlights and front bumper are awesome. I also want those wheels. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/21/20 1:21 p.m.

I have to admit, as much as I have a soft spot in my heart for the G-series, I don't think putting one in the S2000 would have truly suited its character.

And yeah, the automatic would have been kind of a bummer in this case, though something closer to a modern dual-clutch may have been interesting.

ProDarwin MegaDork
9/21/20 1:29 p.m.

This looks like a not well thought out customization job on an S2000 you would find 3/4 finished listed by some loony on craigslist.

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/21/20 2:03 p.m.

TIL that Honda should sue Hyundai over the Kona's headlight design? 


Anyway, i like it! I like the looks of the real S2000 just as well, but i like this too!

buzzboy Dork
9/21/20 2:30 p.m.

I like the look of the longer hoodline and individual bathtubs. It's weird and somewhat impractical, but those are both things that endear a car to me.

The G20 makes more torque under 5000rpm than F20 so I'm all about that. It would make for a much more fun street car.

z31maniac MegaDork
9/21/20 3:00 p.m.

I read the title too fast and didn't see concept, now I has a sad.

ProDarwin MegaDork
9/21/20 3:39 p.m.
buzzboy said:

The G20 makes more torque under 5000rpm than F20 so I'm all about that. It would make for a much more fun street car.

Source?  Seems to me like if it does, we are talking a difference of <5ft*lb peak... on the F20C


malibuguy GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/21/20 5:23 p.m.

5cyl soundtrack alone is nearly worth any admission 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/21/20 5:33 p.m.

In reply to malibuguy :

That's kind of why I'm obsessed with the Vigor. Yeah, there are better options out there, but I just love that sound.

Turboeric Reader
9/21/20 6:20 p.m.

Wow, was that shot on a 1997 cell phone?

buzzboy Dork
9/21/20 8:31 p.m.
ProDarwin said:
buzzboy said:

The G20 makes more torque under 5000rpm than F20 so I'm all about that. It would make for a much more fun street car.

Source?  Seems to me like if it does, we are talking a difference of <5ft*lb peak... on the F20C

Source is I-Am-An-Idiot. I compared torque from an S2k WHP dyno plot to the rated BHP of the G20. Still the F20 makes 155 at 7500 and the G20 makes 137 at 4000 so they're probably really close.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/21/20 9:09 p.m.

I like the looks of the production version better.

I would have loved to get an S2000 with the US-market Vigor 5cyl (G25A) attached to a manual gearbox. Substantially more torque at half the peak RPMs compared to the F20C. Would have been a great street car. I've always loved how S2ks look, but never been interested in buying one simply because of hi-rev engine not much fun for general driving (IMO). 

jharry3 HalfDork
9/23/20 7:59 a.m.

No top?  No sale to me.   If I want a fair weather car I'll build a Lotus 7.

Vajingo New Reader
9/23/20 4:49 p.m.
Turboeric said:

Wow, was that shot on a 1997 cell phone?

 No, it's just how we watched TV back then it really was this terrible. Nobody wore eyeglasses or contacts either. And the rain came at us sideways. 1997 was hard. 

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/24/20 1:05 a.m.

I remember playing Half-Life 1 on 320x200 resolution on a Pentium 166mhz. "Playing"...

Now i try to play Goldeneye N64 and i can't even figure out what's a wall and what's not. Somehow my brain is not backwards compatible with old visuals. Luckily I can still tell this is a Honda Y2K.

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