Always the Bridesmaid
Often referred to as an MX-5 for adults, the Honda S2000 was the dictionary definition of ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’. It was an affordable, good-looking, open-topped old-school roadster that had plenty of poke. However, it was constantly overlooked in favour of the new kids on the block, the BMW Z4 and the Porsche Boxter. It never stood a chance against the Teutonic heavyweights.
History of the Honda S2000
Honda made 110,673 S2000s between 1999 and 2009, of which 7,898 made their way onto UK roads.
The last, limited run GT Edition 100 models released for the 2009 market were sold for just shy of thirty grand but standard S2000s can be picked up second-hand for anywhere between £3,000 for an early, rough-and-ready high-mileage example to £15,000+ for an immaculate, low-mileage 2009 last hurrah.
First seen at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show as a concept car, the Honda S2000 went into full production for 2009 to commemorate Honda’s 50th anniversary. Designated S2000 for its 2.0-litre engine, this tradition was carried on from the 1960s when the company named the beautiful S500, S600 and S800 roadsters.
The Honda S2000 wasn’t just a good-looking cruiser for the upwardly mobile generation who couldn’t quite stretch to the BMW or the Porsche and who didn’t want the MX-5 on the basis that it was too small and fragile looking. It benefitted from Honda’s legendarily reliable 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine that churned out 247 bhp without a turbocharger as well as a six-speed manual gearbox and limited slip-diff.
While remaining essentially the same for its decade-long production run, Honda tinkered with the handling – early models were criticised for harsh responses at the top end – and the plastic rear window was replaced with glass in 2002.
Two years later, suspension and rigidity were improved and the wheel size increased from 16” to 17” and then in 2008 whereas previously it was an optional extra stability and traction control became standard kit across all models.
Above all, the Honda S2000 is a great driver’s car. The steering is precise, as is the grip and, unsurprisingly for Honda, it was exceptionally well-built. In terms of enjoyment and the overall driving experience, it’s hard to beat.