Honda S2000 - The Verdict

The engine in the S2000 is so good that you may overlook its other fabulous features, says David Wilkins

Price: £28,155
Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol
Performance: 150mph, 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds, 28.2mpg, 237bhp at 8,300rpm, 153lb/ft at 7,500rpm
CO2: 236g/km
Worth considering: Mazda RX8, BMW Z4, Nissan 350Z

It used to be said of a certain Italian motor manufacturer that when you purchased one of its products, you bought the engine and the rest of the car was thrown in for free.

I suppose this well-worn cliché was a comment both on the glorious engines to be found under the bonnets of Italian cars in the Sixties and Seventies, and the somewhat ephemeral nature of their bodywork.

Nowadays, Italian cars are more rounded, their engines a little less special but their construction standards much improved. It therefore falls to another great car-making nation, Japan, to provide us with a vehicle, the remarkable engine of which alone might justify its purchase price. This week, our readers test that car, the Honda S2000.

It's difficult to convey to anyone who hasn't directly experienced it quite what the S2000's engine is like. If you drive a diesel, the red zone on your rev counter will start at, say, 4,000rpm. With petrol-powered cars it tends to be something like 6,000. At those engine speeds the S2000 is barely getting into its stride; it comes into its own above about 7,000rpm and is red-lined at 9,000. Among affordable cars, only the rotary-engined Mazda RX8 soars so high. The results – a 150mph top speed and the ability to sprint to 60 in just over six seconds – speak for themselves.

Those are the numbers; what about the quality of the S2000's performance? It doesn't quite provide the aural excitement that, say a Porsche flat six or a good V8 can deliver, but it has a truly wonderful unburstable quality, never feeling remotely strained or harsh. A powerful top-end and modest mid-range torque do, though, translate into short gearing, even in the highest of the S2000's six gears, which can make motorway driving wearing.

Does the rest of the S2000 live up to its engine? To be honest, I scarcely noticed. With this car, what's under the bonnet is everything. But one thing's for certain: if you buy the S2000 for its engine alone, at least you can probably rely on your free Japanese bodywork to last.

THE VERDICT

John Mayer, 53
IT project manager, Lytham
Usual car: BMW 530I

"Top banana" was my initial thought when handed the keys to the bright yellow S2000. The car's handling was excellent through the winding roads of Lytham and the bright colour and sweet throb from the engine was a real head turner. The cockpit was snug: ideally positioned gearstick with a neat, tight gearbox. The instrument panel was clearly visible through the spokes of the steering wheel, but personally I would have preferred retro-look dials rather than the digital display on offer. A trip on the motorway confirmed its excellent performance, a true stress-busting, adrenalin-pumping, weekend plaything. This car could be described as the Barry McGuigan of motors: it packs a mean punch but it's not that good to look at.

Chris Robertshaw, 53
Management consultant, Wilmslow
Usual cars: Golf Mk V, Mk IV Cabrio

From what I'd read about the S2000, I was expecting its performance would be virtually unusable on today's roads, given its maximum power is developed so high up the rev range. But I soon realised that this power is easily exploited, helped by well-matched gear ratios, a precise change and an engine that's eager to rev right up to the red line at 9,000rpm. Well-balanced handling, responsive steering and high levels of grip made it particularly enjoyable on twisty A and B roads. I like the timeless styling and the understated interior, with clear digital instruments and red "start" button. Even the ride was good and the seats comfortable. I'd certainly seriously consider it if I were in the market for this type of car.

James Dean, 41
Company director, Chester
Usual cars: Mercedes CLS, Ferrari 550 Maranello

What a fabulous, honest piece of kit: well done Honda for your clarity of vision! The S2000 is a pure unadulterated sports car and, in entertainment terms, is the best I have driven. The areas that really matter – steering, brakes, gearbox, suspension and engine – work in harmony and are simply magnificent. Styling is purposeful and yet still fresh. While the snug interior is rather bland, it's remarkably comfortable given the focus of the car. There are plenty of faster cars, but, I would guess, few that offer more fun. It accelerates and handles like a rocket-propelled Jack Russell. This is one for the true enthusiast; a hoot to drive and you won't feel like a hairdresser. Poseurs should probably look elsewhere.

If you would like to take part in The Verdict, email verdict@independent.co.uk or write to The Verdict, Save & Spend, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, giving your address, phone number and details of the car, if any, you drive. For most cars, participants must be over 26 and have a clean licence.

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

    £39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game