If you were to ask people what springs to mind when the name ‘Honda’ is mentioned, most would mumble something along the lines of ‘reliable’, ‘slow’ and perhaps a little… ‘bland’. But every now and again the Japanese manufacturer comes up with something which totally dispels these preconceptions; the superb NSX, for example, or the much celebrated Civic Type R, to name a couple. In 1999 they launched what was to quickly become another of Honda’s illustrious masterpieces, the S2000.
Launched to celebrate Honda’s 50th anniversary, and named in respect of the S500, S600 and S800 sports cars of the sixties, this two seater roadster was an instant favourite amongst motoring journalists and driving enthusiasts around the world. Aesthetically it’s hard to believe that the magnificent design was concocted in the mid-nineties, as it certainly wouldn’t look out of place if it were to be launched as a new car today. But it wasn’t all looks and no substance; this was a real purist’s car, and it had the performance to demonstrate that.
The S2000 came with a naturally aspirated, two litre, VTEC engine which produced 237bhp. Nothing tremendously special by today’s standards then, you may conclude? Actually, this was the highest output of any naturally aspirated engine at the time, and what’s more it could rev all the way to 9000 rpm. It was fitted with a short-shift six-speed manual gearbox and could reach 60mph in 6.2 seconds, sporting rear wheel drive and a brilliantly balanced ride thanks to its 50:50 weight distribution. OK, so we’re starting to see why this rapid little motor became so popular in such a short space of time! From the moment you got behind the wheel it was raring to go, and was actually at its optimum when revving at over 7000 rpm. The lightweight chassis and double wishbone suspension made handling at speed a pleasure, albeit with a few oversteer issues in the early models if you pushed too hard. All in all, it had one hell of a personality!
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