Honda S2000 (Roadster), 1999-2009
The Honda S2000 was in production from 1999 to 2009. Styled in house, it is a front-engine, rear wheel drive sports car seating two adults.
The S2000 was launched as an anniversary gift from Honda to itself, marking the company's 50th anniversary. Its name evokes the compact kei-roadsters of the 1960s, S for sports with a nominal displacement to follow. Despite only having four cylinders and two litres with no forced induction, it was capable of 237bhp - making it the highest specific power output of any mass production naturally aspirated model. But it developed it at high revs, capable of revving round to 9000rpm courtesy of its variable valve timing VTEC system.
Officially there are two variants - the original is known as the AP1, while the facelift from 2004 is known as the AP2 in North America - but AP1 facelift in Japan, Asia and Europe. This introduced new 17" wheels instead of the original 16" units, retuned springing and damping rates, new bumpers, lights, and exhaust pipes. North America and Japan also got 2.2 litre versions of the engine - though in Europe the 2.0 was retained.
An outside temperature gauge and a hard top comprised the GT package, available as an option on UK market cars and cheaper than specifying the options separately. A GT is slightly more desirable than a standard S2000 but the values don't differ by much. Production ended in 2009, and the model was not replaced. The GT Edition 100 was a run-out special limited to 100 units for the UK market only, based on the Ultimate Edition. Finished in Grand Prix White, it had red leather, graphite alloy wheels, an aluminium ball gear knob, and a numbered plaque on the dashboard from 1 to 101. Car 49 was never produced. 110673 S2000s were made in total.
In period the S2000's rivals were considered to include the Porsche Boxster, BMW Z3 2.8, Mercedes-Benz SLK320 and Audi TT 225bhp. A left field choice in period would have been the TVR Chimaera, which relied on torque as much as power - and this would make an unusual alternative today. Fans of Japanese roadsters would also consider the Nissan 350Z as an alternative, while the much more modern Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ retain that driver-led sense of fun that makes the S2000 so riotous to own and to live with.