We had to check as well. But yes, the Honda S2000
really did go on sale in the last century. The last millennium, in fact. 2017 therefore marks 18 years since its launch - in fact we're a little late - and that's worthy of anniversary acknowledgement. Not only was the S2000 a welcome (and long overdue) return to Honda making rear-wheel drive sports cars, it's significant as probably being the last as well. Certainly the last with a high revving petrol engine, that is.
Damn it, the engine already. That wasn't due until at least the third paragraph. While a key part of the S2000's appeal, there is more to it than the collection of metal bits under the bonnet. Really. The interior, for example, is a lesson in modern minimalism. Note for example the controls up by the steering wheel for the radio and ventilation, not unlike Ferrari's approach with the 458. Having the controls close to the wheel rather on it makes vastly more sense, I think. Put a more modern stereo in, along with a higher-resolution dash, and it wouldn't look out of place in something new.
Nearly 20 years after its introduction (and almost 10 since it went off sale), the S2000 - to me at least - still looks good and feels small on the road. Throughout the car it feels like there's no excess, nothing wasted and nothing added for the sake of it.
Good, that's done, we can talk about the engine now. The S2000's F20C 2.0-litre must be one of the most thrilling production engines ever made; in conjunction with that sublime six-speed manual you have one of the great powertrains. What VTEC does is of course now painfully familiar, but what's so exciting about the S2000 is the way it just keeps on revving. Sure, you get the performance uplift as the cam changes profile, but then there's a second wind at around 8,000rpm as well that means you get this wild last thousand revs. Turns out, which I didn't know before, that peak power is at 8,300rpm, so that sort of makes sense.
Arguably even more so than when it was on sale - because engines were more interesting then - the engine is central to the S2000's appeal. It feels like the perfect base to build a fun car or track around because, truth be told, the S2000 isn't a fabulous sports car as standard. Or rather it doesn't feel to be one in 2017.
The steering is quite heavy yet numb, the driving position awkward and the ride crashy; none of those are great for confidence anyway, but especially not when combined with the S2000's famously tricky nature. However, before you call for my head, it's worth saying that modifications - rather than any fundamental changes - must surely improve things noticeably. A suspension refresh, a new seat and perhaps a new wheel would be my first things to address.
That is, of course, assuming there was any money remaining. Once upon a time £4,000 bought a well used S2000 but that will no longer happen. Setting aside at least £7K for something to work on now seems wise, and still very tempting I would say.
That's coming from someone who's only spent a couple of days with one though - what do you guys think? I see plenty of S2000s at Sunday Services, so I'd love to know what you think of them, what you've modified and why you have an S2000. We won't see a car like it again, so let's celebrate the S2000 now!