Test Drive: S2000

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I had the chance to test drive Patrick’s Honda S2000 a while ago and I wanted to write a quick review and compare it to some of the other cars I’ve driven recently. It’s a sweet compact package for a reasonable price. Sadly, the S2000 line is discontinued. Bummer.

Design
The S2000 model I drove had a beautiful exterior. If anything, the lines are still relevant. The simplicity makes it timeless. The interior, however, is starting to look a little dated.

In general, with the top down, the car has great visibility. It’s a little on the small side, so you really have to squeeze in there. My roommate is 6′ tall, and I’m not sure exactly how he fits in there, but somehow he claims that he’s totally comfortable.

Handling
The S2000 is all about handling and the driving experience. The ride is tight… very tight. It never feels harsh, but I would say that it’s telling you that it’s a sports car—all the time. Steering is very responsive and the weight is balanced. The even weight distribution is probably attributed to where the front engine is located (behind the front axel). The car is very grippy and gives constant feedback on road condition. The engineers at Honda clearly focused on balance, weight reduction and handling.

Power
Okay, so let’s be honest here. The S2000 has power, but you really have to work the engine to get some pull. Pretty much the engine is docile until you rev above 5 or 6K, then the VTEC kicks in. The reality is that it’s very hard to get up there. By the time you’re there, the engine is roaring. The sound is phenomenal and makes you feel like you’re in a race car, if you can maintain the revs.

I’m not sure exactly how Honda was able to get 245hp in the S2000, but I bet it’s a blast to drive when you work the engine at its peak. Unfortunately, I was unable to train myself to rev the engine like that. The S2000 is clearly a brilliant sports car, but it needs to be driven by someone who really understands the dynamics of the engine.

Conclusion
So I really like the S2000. It’s got all the ingredients of an awesome sports car. The only thing it lacks is a little more torque in the low end. If anything, the S2000 shares a lot of characteristics you’d find in a Porsche Cayman or NSX. They all subscribe to the same engineering theory: lighter, tight steering, and even weight distribution. Yes, the Cayman and NSX are in a different category from the S2000, but they really share a similar perspective of how a sports car should communicate to a driver. Again, the low end grunt is where the S2000 suffers.

But the torque can be easily forgiven when you consider the price, the handling, the sound, and most importantly, the reliability. The S2000 has a ton of potential, and it’s greatest fault is that it’s no longer produced.

So would I recommend a S2000? It’s not for everyone. If you want a sports car that’s a very reliable, handles spectacularly, and has a good price, than it’s an excellent choice. For me, I’d still lean towards something like a 2006 Boxster S.

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That being said, Patrick just bought a motorcycle. I guess he had to satisfy the need for a little extra speed.