5 Reasons Why the Honda S2000 Will Be Honda's Last Truly Great Sports Car
I don't know if I've said this before, but the car that got me into cars was an Amuse S2000 in orange. It was blistering fast on Japanese Touge and I loved watching it dance in the hands of Keiichi Tsuchiya.
However, as much as I love S2000s, and as much as I love Hondas in general, I truly believe that the S2000 is Honda's last great sports car. Here are 5 reasons why that is the case:
1. An Engine That Revs to Eternity
Back in 1999, Honda did something that is truly magnificent. The F20C was borne. 250bhp from a naturally aspirated 2 litre engine. It was a figure that is unheard of, and was just recently beaten by the equally brilliant Ferrari 458 Italia.
This puppy also had a trick up its sleeves - the redline. Like the 458 Italia, it revs to 9000rpm. As we all know, the higher the rev limit, the more exciting things get. And the VTEC zone of said engine wasn't coming on until 5500rpm, which means in an normal engine, where you'd have to stop and change cog, you'd still have another 4000rpm of awesome VTECness to go. Although, the later cars came with F22C, which had 8bhp less and slightly more torque, many people preferred the F20C, since the early cars had 1000rpm more. Characterful engines nonetheless.
2. The Beautifully Balanced Chassis
The other thing that an S2000 had up it's sleeves is the chassis that Honda created. It's X-bone structure and the 50:50 weight distribution made the S2000 a true drivers' car.
As we all know, if you take a roof off of any car, the chassis is going to twist and the general structural integrity would be all wonky. But because the S2000 was intended to be a convertible, Honda thought of the problem of structural integrity beforehand, and they solved it by the very clever chassis design. All for the goodwill of we petrolheads.
3. It's mechanical feeling
Modern cars have a lot of electrical assists to keep you in check. The Evos had AYC, ACD and the Subarus had DCCD and many others. It would seem as if the more acronyms you had to put on the brochure, the better the car. So they put a lot of those in the car. Some you don't even know what they are.
And the Honda S2000 had, ABS and erm...that's it. If you want to have the perfect line in a corner, you have to be perfect. There is no torque vectoring or 4 wheel steering to keep you in check, it's you and the car, man and machine. If you get it wrong, you crash. End of story. And I like that a lot. The mechanical feeling that you are in control is so rare these days, that it's actually kind of sad.
4. The Environment Never Will Allow Cars Like These to Exist
Back in the 90s, things were very different to things nowadays. People cared less about polar bears, and the general awareness of the public were simply not quite there yet.
Nowadays, governments would be forced to impose certain restrictions onto cars to make them more polar-bear friendly. Hence most car manufacturers use turbochargers, which put exhaust gases back into the engine, to make the engine more efficient.
And Honda, as much as they are unwilling to do so, are forced to follow the trend too. With their latest sports cars - the Civic Type R and the NSX, all being turbocharged, unlike their predecessors. The NSX has even gone further by implementing hybrid technology, which is saving the planet even more. But sad to say, the environment is never going to allow pure, naturally aspirated goodness, like the S2000, to exist anymore.
5. Honda is Never the Same Now
You might not know who the man above is, but here me out - he is your Honda hero. He helped designed the NSX, NSX Type R, Integra Type R, Civic Type R, NSX-R(NA2), Integra Type R(DC5) and inevitably, the S2000. His name is Shigeru Uehara - and he retired from Honda in 2007.
His last ever creation in Honda, was the S2000 Type S, which was also a last for the S2000. And after that, Honda cars were never the same. The new Civic Type Rs, were good, and yes they were developed on the Ring. So did the NSX, with it's complicated powertrain and the hybrid system. But they never had that 'choosing the driver' prospect that a Honda sports car should have. Everybody can drive fast in the new Civic Type R, and the NSX. But Honda sports cars of old were never like that. They were hard to drive - as it should be.
The S2000s too were incredibly hard to drive. The very early cars had a tendency to snap oversteer, if you don't know how to control the weight transfer of the car. Because it was so balanced, the driver had to manage the weight so good, to get the absolute best out of it. And most drivers, when they snap oversteer, they too over counter and hit the tree. Racing drivers would tend to give a slight bit of throttle to have some weight over the rear of the car, to give it the needed traction out of the bends.
As much as it's counter-intuitive, Honda sports cars need to be hard to drive. And all of the new ones, since the man left, aren't. And they never feel the same.
The S2000 is a car cherished by many - it's swooping bodylines, intoxicating engine, and a chassis to die for. It was a great Honda sports car. And probably the last great Honda sports car end of story.