Fleet News

Honda S2000

Honda

Review

With third places in Malaysia and Bahrain for Jenson Button, Britain's biggest hope in motor sport in recent years, his BAR Honda has been showing itself as more than a match for all but Ferrari. Okay, so its rev limit is about half of F1 engines, but this is easily the next best thing.

Honda has aimed to model the interior on a race car, including a snazzy red button to start the engine and an instrument pod focused on revs rather than speed.

Outside, the car is a delight to look at, with a soft-top hood that raises and lowers in six seconds, while for 2004 model year cars, there is a host of changes, including design changes outside to enhance its road presence.

More importantly, there is sharper, more predictable handling thanks to updated suspension, with springs and dampeners stiffer at the front and softer at the rear.

There is also a stiffened bodyshell, along with new 17-inch alloy wheels and bigger tyres front (215 up from 205) and rear (245 up from 225).

Straight line speed remains at 150mph, while the 0–62mph dash takes 6.2 seconds.

Steering characteristics don't go unchanged and new settings to the Electrical Power Steering (EPS) system – the steering gear ratio is now 7%'slower' – and a more rigid mounting provide greater precision, feel and response.

And finally, a lighter and more advanced ABS system features computer software that deals more effectively with situations in which levels of surface grip differ momentarily between one wheel and another, for added stability. The overall result is a greater on-road performance.

Although it is not the smoothest of four-pot motors at low revs, the car is still an absolute hoot to drive.

Where you might normally think about changing up when a 'normal' engine reaches 5,000rpm, the S2000 is only just getting started.

It takes quite a few miles before it feels normal to hang on for dear life and let the engine fly up to 9,000rpm. Once past 7,000rpm it seems to take on a life of its own, covering the last few thousand revs at lightning speed.

A quick change of perfectly-placed ratios drops the engine to about 7,000rpm and the whole process starts again, accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack.

But there's more, as the engine is so flexible that it's perfectly happy pottering around town at 30mph and will pull strongly from low revs.

This means you can floor the accelerator from 3,000rpm in second or third and it will still be winding itself up to 9,000rpm by the time you reach the end of even long stretches of road, by which time you could easily be hitting treble figures, where legal.

Like its big brother, the NSX, the S2000 manages to combine everyday user-friendliness with a fantastic performance that simply makes you grin.

Jenson Button may have Malaysia and Bahrain, but I've got the A605 out of Peterborough – and that's good enough for me.

FACT FILE

Make: Honda
Model: S2000
Engine (cc): 1,977
Max power (bhp/rpm): 236/8300
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 153/7,500
Max speed (mph): 150
Fuel consumption (mpg): 28.5
CO2 emissions (g/km): 237
Transmission: 6-sp manual
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 50/11
Prices (OTR): £26,513 Roadster (add, £1,000 for GT hard top)

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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