Review and photos by Peter Bleakney
Originally published October 12, 2006

When I floated the idea of spending a day cruising around Ontario’s Mennonite country in a Honda S2000, my wife got quite excited. Ahhh, she thought, a relaxing day of top-down motoring, visiting the markets, checking out some antiques and buying a couple of pies. Poor dear.

What I failed to mention was it is forbidden to place “Honda S2000” and “relaxing” in the same sentence. I believe this rule is somewhere in the AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) handbook. You can use “uncompromising”, “jarring”, “reflexes of a caffeinated stoat” and “strung tighter than the G-string on a three-dollar fiddle”. But not “relaxing”.

2006 Honda S2000
2006 Honda S2000
2006 Honda S2000. Click image to enlarge

So it wasn’t long into our journey that my wife’s curiosity got the better of her and she started asking pointed questions about Honda’s little rear-drive roadster.

“Did they forget to install a suspension in this thing or what?”

“Yes, it does ride quite harshly,” I countered, “but that helps give it its incredibly quick turn in and neutral, flat cornering.”

“Well, you’d better shift into top gear because the tach says 3600 rpm and we’re only going 110 km/h.”

“I am in top gear.”

“Why is there a big lump in my foot well?”


“Where’s the cup holder?”


“Why would anybody pay $50,000 for this?”

So Claire and the S2000 didn’t exactly hit it off.

Truth be told, this roadster is a narrowly focused sports car that’ll rev to the high heavens and serve up a scintillating conversation between driver and tarmac, but those in the passenger seat miss out on most of the fun and suffer the most abuse.

She also wasn’t thrilled with the dated, plasticy and plain interior, which, admittedly, wouldn’t cut it in an entry level Korean car these days. As a driver’s work-station, however, it is close to perfection.

The perforated leather sports seats firmly gripped my six-foot frame in all the right places and proved immensely comfortable throughout the day. The chunky steering wheel, shifter and pedals are ideally placed, and the view down the road over the low cowl and hood is exemplary.

The Honda S2000 is all about economy of motion. The stubby six-speed shifter snicks with rifle-bolt precision, clutch take-up is quick, and the smallest of steering inputs produce dramatic results. Unlike the Mazda MX-5 or BMW Z4 (M Roadster excepted), which can feel darty and unsettled, the S2000 is always planted and secure. Dynamically, there are few mysteries here.

2006 Honda S20002006 Honda S2000
2006 Honda S2000. Click image to enlarge

Hit a twisty road and the car tucks itself around you, becoming an extension of your will. The overused go-kart comparison seems wholly appropriate here. With a little coaxing, the back end will break free in a progressive and easily caught power slide. Great fun.

Although on this outing I did my best to behave myself, as the missus is not big on excessive lateral g-forces, quick transitions and other such things that might upset her delicate stomach.

But I had to educate her in the Jekyll and Hyde personality of the S2000’s 2157 cc DOHC 16-valve VTEC four-cylinder engine that makes 240 hp at a dizzying 7800 rpm.

“Below 6000 rpm, this engine isn’t much, as the modest 162 lb-ft of torque doesn’t arrive until 6500 rpm – but between six and eight grand when the VTEC’s more aggressive cam profile kicks in, all hell breaks loose,” I informed her.

“Uh huh. Is that an antique store over there?”

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