2005 Honda S2000
2005 Honda S2000; photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

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By Chris Chase

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Honda S2000

You might have called it Honda’s mid-life crisis, but unlike the 50 year-olds who go out and buy a sports car, Honda celebrated its 50th by building one.

A sporty Honda isn’t tough to wrap your head around, but for a company whose most overtly sporty car to that point was a Civic with 160 horsepower, the S2000 was Honda’s and-now-for something-completely-different moment, with a screaming 9,000-rpm four-cylinder good for 240 horses.

At the time, the S2000′s engine boasted the highest specific power per volume of any naturally-aspirated (that is, not turbo- or supercharged) production motor. That is to say, it produced more power per litre of displacement than any other naturally-aspirated engine in a car available in a showroom. The motor was mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission (the only one available) and a Torsen limited slip differential.

2005 Honda S2000
2005 Honda S2000
2005 Honda S2000; photos by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

In 2004, Honda made some cosmetic and mechanical tweaks to the S2000. Most significantly, these included bumping the engine’s displacement to 2.2 litres by way of a longer piston stroke; horsepower remained the same, but torque increased to 162 lb-ft at 6,200 from the previous peak of 153 lb-ft at 7,500 rpm. The longer stroke resulted in a lower redline of 8,000 rpm.

In addition to the larger motor, the transmission got shorter ratios for gears one through four and taller ratios for fifth and sixth.

In 2006, Honda added a drive-by-wire throttle and Vehicle Stability Assist.

For 2008, the S2000 gained a tire pressure monitoring system, updated dash and gauges and a few new colours.

For a full list of differences between 2000-2003 and 2004-2009 cars, check this thread.

In typical Honda fashion, fuel consumption is decidedly palatable for a sports car, with EnerGuide ratings of 11.8 L/100 km (city) and 8.4 L/100 km (highway). Autos.ca contributors Paul Williams and Frank Rizzuti, both S2000 owners, report that those figures are quite realistic in real-world driving. Premium fuel is a requirement, though.

Reliability has been solid, generally, but Consumer Reports (CR) data indicates a few things to watch for.

One is what CR dubs the potential for “major” engine problems in 2003 through 2005 models. The publication doesn’t provide specifics, but possibilities include a stuttering engine caused by a bad manifold air pressure (MAP) sensor or an ignition system misfire, which can be caused by any number of things. Info on both problems can be found in S2Ki.com’s excellent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Here’s an S2Ki.com thread that looks specifically at the misfire problem.

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