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Overrated: Honda S2000

12 months ago

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Steve Sutcliffe | Journalist


23 June 2023

On paper the Honda S2000 had everything going for it, and then some. But maybe that’s why I found it such a disappointing car in the end: in theory it promised so much, in reality it delivered too little. Plus it had one of the silliest driving positions of any sports car ever created.

Before it made its first official appearance in 1999, the excitement surrounding the S2000 was palpable among the world’s car enthusiasts, and it built up over many years, long before anyone outside Honda was allowed anywhere near its radical new ‘F1-influenced’ cockpit. Even as a concept Honda’s SSM (which stood for Sport Study Model) caused a furore when it was unveiled at the 1995 Tokyo Show, deservedly so.

At its core was a front-mid-engined chassis, which Honda claimed to feature perfect 50/50 weight distribution. It was rear-wheel drive (so that was good) and was powered by a 2-litre, in-line five (yes, five) cylinder engine that could rev to the heavens, so Honda claimed, and had a stupefyingly high specific output as a result. As Andrew English wrote here recently, an engine like this was simply a thing to be expected from Honda back then. Anything less than a world-beating powertrain would have been a bit odd, and that’s how it was.

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