2009 Honda S2000Enlarge Photo
Honda's track-ready, no frills S2000 roadster will no longer be produced after the 2009 model year. When it debuted in 1999 for the 2000 model year, the Honda S2000 wowed enthusiasts with impeccable chassis control, fantastic feedback, a 9000-rpm VTEC four-cylinder, and an impressive 120 hp per liter.
Evolutionary changes in 2004 included a small increase in engine displacement (to 2.2 liters), tweaks to its handling to reduce a tendency towards oversteer, and a wider gear ratio spread. The S2000 CR (club racer) edition was announced at the 2007 New York International Auto Show and featured quicker steering, a stiffened suspension, and fattened Bridgestone Potenza RE070 performance tires; a body kit increased downforce to improve stability at high speeds.
2009 Honda S2000 CREnlarge Photo
Driving an S2000 from Los Angeles to the famed Willow Springs racetrack in 2001, I was initially underwhelmed by modest low-rpm power and a relatively punishing suspension. Engine drone and wind rush from the soft top soon became tiring on the highway. But once on the track the S2000 came alive; its light weight, tenacious handling, and ferocious high-rpm thrust made it a grin-inducing ride that was controllable and fun even at the limit.
The Honda S2000 has a fair share of enthusiastic fans, including Car and Driver who placed it on their "10-Best" list for four years. The roadster's longevity is considerable; it was initially intended only as a limited-production vehicle to celebrate Honda's 50th anniversary. To date, cumulative worldwide sales have topped 110,000 units.