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Fast forward: S2000, instant classic

2014-03-05 10:48

A TRUE CLASSIC SPORTS CAR? An official 1999 shot of a Honda S2000 sports car. Find one today and you won’t ever be disappointed, reckons Wheels24 writer Dave Fall. image: HONDA


What with all the recent hype about Porsche taking the South African Car of the Year title two years running one does wonder 'are there any other contenders out there on the sports car scene to compete with the brand from Zuffenhausen, Germany?'.

For 10 years or so I'd say there were very few genuine alternatives to buying a Porsche. But there is one car that could well be a genuine contender in the sports car stakes. OK, you can no longer buy a new Honda S2000, but they are definitely right up there with the very best and perhaps more importantly are fairly plentiful on the used car market – and what an instant classic they are going to become.


If you gather that I rate Porsche rather highly then you are correct in all my years of driving, and having owned different sports cars down the years (including Morgans, Sunbeams and Jaguars), I can only concur that the Germans really do know how to combine scintillating driving dynamics, superb technology and outstanding quality by the spadeful.

But in my estimation there is a car brand, I prefer to call it a marque, that really can challenge Porsche on virtually every front, especially price, and that is the Honda Motor Company.

Wheels24 motoring readers will most likely know that the eponymous founder of the company, Soichiro Honda, travelled across the world from his native Japan to take a look firsthand at the motorcycle road races held every year on the Isle of Man back in the fifties: “In less than five years I’ll be back to win races right here at the TT.”

And the man wasn’t joking.

Fast forward to 1998 when I first set eyes on the brilliant Honda S2000 sports car that was being showcased behind the main grandstand in Douglas on the ‘Island’. Trouble was, I couldn’t get near it because most people had their eyes on another racing ikon, Joey Dunlop, sadly now departed, out to secure more motorcycle victories at the TT races that year.

Rumour has it many motoring fans placed advance orders for the S2000 there and then. Remember, this car was still 12 months away from production. Astute or what? Back then, as now, there was no steering wheel adjustment whatsoever – it didn’t matter if you were vertically challenged in either direction – this really was a driver’s car, you fitted the car or had to look elsewhere for your motoring-nirvana.

But the pièce de résistance for me has to be the beating heart of the beast – a truly wonderful four-cylinder of two litres capacity. With a mighty 177kW and more than 200Nm on tap – coupled to a pair of VVTi camshafts that “adjust” when the need arises to offer the driver virtually supercharged performance as the rev counter climbs easily to a heady 8300rpm.

From around 6000rpm the fun begins – with the most enjoyable engine exhaust note from a piston engine that almost defies description.


The ride always remained pleasant over just about any surface – try that in a Morgan! – old or new. I’m not saying the Malvern flyer was bumpy and stiff, but if you rode over a coin you could tell if it was heads or tails!  No, the Honda, even when pushed, will always stick to the road like a truffle to the root of a tree in a French forest it’s that good.

There’s even a certain amount of classic scuttle shake to be found in the S2000 – not entirely unpleasant. The cockpit is so practical and well thought-out that the oft-used adage used by motoring journalists of years gone by when describing switches and levers “they simply fall easily to hand".

No multi-function steering wheel is offered either, – and definitely not necessary as the left of the binnacle houses the heater/air-conditioning adjustments most of which can be operated by a single finger, while the right has easy-to-understand sound system controls. Then there’s that glorious, bright-red, start-ignition button.

Naturally there’s a six-speed manual gearbox to play with, while the clutch remains light and shudder-free no matter the revs you choose to get you moving. The Honda’s top speed is academic, really, but let's just say a standard Porsche – which costs around three times the money – wouldn’t be any more fun to drive.

We pass this way but once, so let’s enjoy the time we have left on Planet Earth!

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