Honda's high-performance S2000 two-seat roadster has gone almost 10 years without a complete redesign, though there were some engine and aesthetic changes for 2004. For 2008, Honda spices things up with a new track-ready package called the S2000 CR; CR stands for "club racer." Less spicy are the changes to the regular S2000, which include a new wheel design, suspension tweaks and an altered gauge layout. The S2000 competes with other two-seat roadsters, including the Pontiac Solstice GXP, BMW Z4 and Audi TT.
Honda's rear-wheel-drive sports car packs a high-revving four-cylinder. As a result, the S2000 feels more like a racecar than a typical sports car. The S2000 CR will enhance that feeling, as it comes with a specially tuned suspension, added chassis bracing and a removable hardtop to increase chassis rigidity. CR models have no radio and air conditioning to save weight, but those amenities can be added to the car.
The S2000 has a wedge-shaped profile that stands apart from other roadsters. It's built on a 94.5-inch wheelbase and measures 162.2 inches long overall. The power-operated top contains a glass rear window with a defroster. A molded top cover is included, and a body-colored hardtop is available. S2000 CR models have a standard hardtop in place of the retractable soft-top.
The S2000 CR has functional aerodynamic front and rear spoilers to increase downforce and road hugging at high speeds. With the hardtop on, the S2000 CR is 51 pounds lighter than the regular S2000 and 99 pounds lighter with the hardtop removed.
Integrated roll bars sit behind the twin seats. A clear acrylic wind deflector that mounts between the bars helps reduce turbulence. High-intensity-discharge headlamps and 17-inch alloy wheels are standard. CR models get more-aggressive tires, and the rear tires are larger. Ground clearance with a full load aboard is 4.2 inches.
The S2000 two-seater comes equipped with body-hugging, leather-trimmed bucket seats. Shoulder room and elbowroom were increased for 2004, but the range of driving positions is limited because the steering wheel doesn't adjust and the seats must be positioned manually.
Interior enhancements to the S2000 CR include fabric seats with suede side bolsters and yellow stitching for 2008.
Storage space is at a premium. There's a tiny bin between the seats and a trunk with only 5 cubic feet of capacity. Where the soft-top used to reside, the CR now has a brace to increase chassis rigidity.
The instrument displays are adapted from racecars. The cockpit features net door-panel storage pockets, an aluminum and leather shift knob, aluminum pedals, an aluminum-accented footrest and silver trim accents. XM Satellite Radio and headrest speakers are available. The CR's instrument panel has a new Peak-Power Indicator that flashes a green light when peak power is reached.
Under the Hood
Honda's high-revving 2.2-liter four-cylinder develops 237 horsepower at 7,800 rpm. Yielding 162 pounds-feet of torque at 6,800 rpm, the engine mates with a six-speed manual transmission. The CR has a sport-tuned muffler, but there are no differences in power ratings between the base S2000 and the CR.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags are not offered.
Simply put, the S2000 is a hot number. Razor-sharp steering, disciplined handling and athletic cornering ability blend with excellent braking performance to produce a driving experience that approaches racecar levels.
You'll need to press the red starter button to fire up the potent four-cylinder. At full throttle, a deep, aggressive growl emanates from the engine. Once it reaches 5,000 rpm or so, the S2000 lunges forward like a rocket.
A penalty for all that performance must be paid in ride comfort — the suspension is stiff and the S2000 is hardly silent at any speed. You'd better plan on traveling light, too.