The History Of Honda S2000

The Honda S2000 is a roadster manufactured by the Japanese automaker Honda Motor Company. It was launched in April 1999 and was created to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary.

The car was first shown as a concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995, following which it was launched in world markets in 1999. The S2000 is named for its engine displacement of 2L, carrying on in the tradition of the S500, S600, and S800 roadsters of the 1960s. Several revisions were made throughout the car's lifetime, including changes to the engine, gearbox, suspension and interior and exterior. Officially two model designations exist: the initial launch model was called the AP1, while the AP2 designation was given to the models produced from 2004 onwards which contained substantial changes to the drivetrain and suspension. Production of the S2000 will cease in June 2009.

Introduced at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, the Honda SSM concept car was the design study for the production S2000. The SSM (which stood for "Sports Study Model") was a rear wheel drive roadster powered by a 2.0L (122cuin) inline 4 cylinder engine. It featured a push-button starter and central division between the driver and passenger which Honda claimed to improve the vehicle's rigidity. All of the body panels were aluminium and the car had a 50/ 50 weight distribution.

The SSM would appear unchanged in many automotive shows for several years afterwards, hinting at the possibility of a production version. Honda later announced the production version of the SSM. Carrying on the tradition of the company's 1960s S500, S600, and S800 roadsters, the new vehicle was called the S2000.


The S2000 was introduced in 1999 for the 2000 model year and was given the chassis designation of AP1. It features a front-mid-engine, rear wheel drive layout with power being delivered by a 1,997cc (122cuin) F20C inline 4 cylinder DOHC-VTEC engine producing 240hp (179kW) at 8,300rpm and 153ft·lbf (207N·m) at 7,500rpm, though European versions were rated slightly lower at 237hp (177kW) and the Japanese models were quoted with 247hp (184kW) at 8,600rpm due to a small difference in engine compression ratio.[citation needed] The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and Torsen limited slip differential. In part because of its high-revving nature for a car engine, the S2000 achieves the highest specific power per unit volume of any mass-produced naturally-aspirated automobile piston engine, producing 123.5hp (92kW) per liter.[citation needed]

The roadster is constructed using a rigid X-bone monocoque frame, improving passenger safety and handling. Other features include independent double wishbone suspension, electrically-assisted steering and integrated roll hoops. 16in (41cm) wheels with Bridgestone Potenza S-02 tires were standard equipment. The compact and lightweight engine, mounted entirely behind the front axle, allows the S2000 to obtain a 50:50 front/ rear weight distribution and lower rotational inertia. An electrically powered vinyl top with internal cloth lining was standard. Honda made available an OEM hardtop for additional cost.

The 2001 model was largely unchanged, but Honda upgraded the radio (now with a clock). For the 2002 model year, suspension settings were revised and the plastic rear window was replaced with glass with an electric defroster added. Other updates included slightly revised tail lamps, an upgraded radio, and a revised engine control unit.

United States versions of Honda S2000 require premium unleaded gasoline to operate (91 AKI octane rating, corresponding roughly to 95 RON). Fuel economy figures by the United States EPA were originally 20mpg-US (12L/ 100km; 24mpg-imp) city, 22mpg-US (11L/ 100km; 26mpg-imp) combined and 26mpg-US (9.0L/ 100km; 31mpg-imp) highway. Revised ratings are 18mpg-US (13L/ 100km; 22mpg-imp) city, 20mpg-US (12L/ 100km; 24mpg-imp) combined and 24mpg-US (9.8L/ 100km; 29mpg-imp) highway. The European and Japanese versions are also tuned to run on a minimum of 95 octane unleaded, but 98 is recommended. Fuel economy figures published by Honda UK are 20.6mpg-imp (13.7L/ 100km; 17.2mpg-US) city, 28.2mpg-imp (10.0L/ 100km; 23.5mpg-US) combined and 35.3mpg-imp (8.00L/ 100km; 29.4mpg-US) highway.

The AP1 was manufactured up to 2003 at Honda's Takanezawa, Tochigi plant, alongside the Honda NSX and Honda Insight hybrid. In 2004 production moved to the Suzuka plant.


The 2004 model year incorporated several revisions to the S2000 and was given the chassis designation of AP2. The 2004 model introduced newly designed 17in (43cm) wheels and Bridgestone RE-050 tires along with a retuned suspension that reduced the car's tendency to oversteer. The spring rates and shock absorber damping were altered and the suspension geometry modified to improve stability by reducing toe-in changes under cornering loads. In addition, cosmetic changes were made to the exterior with new front and rear bumpers, revised headlight assemblies, new LED tail-lights, and oval-tipped exhausts. The plastic backlight was replaced by a slightly smaller, heated, glass one.

The AP2 also included the introduction of a larger version of the F20C to the North American market only. Designated F22C1, the engine's stroke was lengthened, increasing its displacement to 2,157cc (132cuin). At the same time, the redline was reduced from 9,000rpm to 8,000rpm with a cutout at 8,200rpm, mandated by the longer travel distance of the pistons. Peak torque increased 6% to 162ft·lbf (220N·m) at 6,200rpm and the F22C1 was quoted by Honda as having more torque at lower rpm than the F20C, although power output was the same. The F22C1 was used exclusively in the North American market for 2004 and 2005 with the F20C being used in all other markets.

In conjunction with its introduction of the F22C1, Honda also changed the transmission gear ratios by shortening the first four gears and lengthening the last two. Another change was the inclusion of a clutch release delay valve to improve drivetrain longevity by reducing shock loads.[citation needed]

The 2006 model introduced a drive by wire throttle, Vehicle Stability Assist system, new wheels, and one new exterior color, Laguna Blue Pearl. Interior changes included revised seats, additional stereo speakers integrated into the headrests, and additional headrest padding where previous seats had helmet depressions and screens. The F22C1 engine replaced the F20C in 2006 for the Japanese market with a specified power output of 239hp (178kW).

The 2008 model year marked the first time the S2000 was offered in more than one trim level. In addition to the base model, Honda offered a new race-inspired version of the S2000, distinguished by reduced weight, fewer amenities, and a claimed increase in performance. The S2000 CR made its world debut at the 2007 New York International Auto Show on 4 April 2007. Changes for the CR, called the Type-S in Japan, included a quicker (lower-ratio) steering rack, stiffer suspension and all-new Bridgestone Potenza RE070 tires. Rear tires were widened from 245/ 40R-17 to 255/ 40R-17 on the CR. A revised body kit, composed of a redesigned front clip, rear bumper, and a large spoiler, were wind-tunnel tested and claimed to reduce the overall coefficient of lift by 70-80 percent. The power folding soft top was removed and replaced with additional chassis bracing topped off with a tonneau cover, while the optional removable non-structural hard top became a standard feature on the CR. Finally, in an effort to reduce weight and lower the center of gravity, the spare tire was omitted and air conditioning and stereo were offered only as options. Net weight savings without the additional hardtop was 90pounds (41kg) relative to the standard model. The engine in the S2000 CR was unchanged from the standard trim.

The Honda S2000 CR became available in the fall of 2007 and started at US$36,300. Production volume of less than 2,000 units is expected. Redesigned five-spoke wheels were standard on all S2000s, with bright silver on the base model wheels and a gunmetal color on the CR wheels. All CR models were only available with yellow and black cloth interior.

Despite much speculation about impending retirement of the S2000, on August 27, 2008, Honda officially announced its plans to continue both trim levels of S2000 unchanged for the 2009 model year. MSRP was increased to US$34,695 for the base trim and US$36,695 for CR trim. Production of the S2000 will cease at the end of 2009.

The S2000 has received much praise from critics and motoring journalists and has received favourable reviews from such publications as Car and Driver, Car magazine, the Los Angeles Times and Road & Track magazine. Among the features highlighted are the high output of the engine, the high redline, the balanced handling, and the smooth gearbox. User surveys have named the S2000 as a favorite for overall customer satisfaction.

  • The S2000 was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
  • The S2000 was the highest-ranked model in the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study "Premium Sports Car" class for 2004, 2006, and 2008 and has consistently held one of the top three positions.
  • The F20C engine won the International Engine of the Year award in the "1.8 to 2 litre" size category for five years from 2000 through 2004.
  • The F20C was featured on Ward's 10 Best Engines list for 2000 and 2001.
  • The S2000 ranked number #1 in the BBC Top Gear Survey in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
  • Consumers' Most Wanted Convertible Under $35,000 for 2007,
  • 10 Sexiest Cars for 2006 Finalist, Road & Travel Magazine
  • Ten Most Gorgeous Japanese Cars Currently For Sale, Jalopnik
  • Best Affordable Sports Car for 2008, U.S. News & World Report

In the United States, the largest market for the S2000 worldwide, the recommended selling price of the 2009 Honda S2000 is US$34,695. The CR trim's base price is $36,695 with a $1,000 option to add air-conditioning and stereo.

In the United Kingdom, the 2008 model is offered in two trims, Roadster and GT. The GT trim features a removable hard-top and an outside temperature gauge. On-the-road prices of these trims are £27,300 and £27,850, respectively.

After several years of steady production, sales of the roadster began falling dramatically starting in 2006, and the trend accelerated during the 2008 U.S. recession. Honda sold 7,320 units in the U.S for 2004, the first year of the AP2. In 2008, only 2,538 units were sold - a 74% decline from 2002, which was the best year for S2000 sales at 9,684 units. In November 2008, for the first time since the launch, fewer than 100 new S2000's were sold nationwide in the United States during the whole month. Honda has announced that they will not create a successor to the S2000.

Through July 2008.

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