- Ultimate grip
- High-revving four-cylinder
- Sweet-shifting manual gearbox
- Aging look
- Cramped interior
- Lack of storage
The 2008 Honda S2000 is a purist's sports car, with the resulting compromises in room and refinement.
The 2008 Honda S2000 is a classic sports car: It has rear-wheel drive, a ragtop to open on sunny days, a six-speed manual transmission, and a rev-happy four-cylinder engine. It also is one of the least practical cars on the planet—maybe the least since the Toyota MR2 Spyder was discontinued. There's almost no interior or trunk storage, the cockpit's more cramped than the coach seats on a Boeing 757, and it's priced above $30,000.
The S2000 has been on the market since 1999. The roadster has a 237-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder, coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, stability control, drive-by-wire throttle, and an engine Start button. It gets respectable 18/25-mpg fuel economy ratings, yet the engine's performance is stunning. Handling is also a strength, as the S2000 is already tuned to perform on tight hairpins, though it can feel overly taut and a little jittery on public roads. You'll have to wind out the engine and push its limits in corners to find out what the Honda S2000 is all about.
This year Honda has trimmed some weight to create a new S2000 variant that’s even more race-track friendly. The "club-racer inspired" S2000CR gets a full-body aerodynamic kit, high-performance Bridgestone tires, firmer suspension settings, a thicker anti-roll bar, and new wheels. A lightweight aluminum hardtop that cuts weight by about 90 pounds replaces the soft-top mechanism. Inside, the CR gets distinctive cloth seats with yellow stitching, a new aluminum shifter knob, and carbon-fiber look-alike trim panels.
You'll be cramped inside the Honda S2000's cockpit, no matter how small you might be. Where Mazda's Miata feels almost roomy in comparison thanks to a low beltline, the high shoulders of the S2000 confine the driver and passenger, and the steering wheel sits low even at its highest adjustment point. Uncharacteristically, the controls aren't laid out cleanly (there's not a lot of dash space to do so), and the big red Start button seems more like a gimmick. There's plenty of black plastic, too, in the name of saving weight.
Dual front airbags, stability control, and anti-lock brakes are standard on the 2008 Honda S2000.