Honda S2000
(1999 - 2009)

  • Incredible driving experience.
  • Typically superb Honda build quality and reliability.
  • Values seem to be ever increasing.
  • The sound, the shift feel, the balance.
  • Many on the used market have been poorly modified.
  • Not all that safe.
  • Lacks torque lower in the rev range.
  • Not the most practical of cars.
Overview

Available new from 1999 to 2009, the S2000 was Hondas small rear wheel drive driver focussed performance roadster. Think of it as Honda’s take on the iconic Mazda MX5 Miata, only far more serious.

To many the S2000 represents something of an exclamation point for the golden era of Honda.

When the S2000 arrived back 1999, Honda had been on winning streak of performance cars with the like of the Prelude, Integra, CRX and obviously NSX however with the S2000, they attempted to blend retro-convertible sensibilities with, for the time, high-tech engineering and lessons learnt from an incredible back catalogue.

The rest of the recipe was near textbook perfect sports car, small size, lightweight, a 50/50 weight balance, superb transmission feel and suspension engineering shared with the sublime NSX.

However, this is a performance car and many that drive them can run out of talent rather quickly so checking for accident damage and abuse is absolutely critical.

In terms of the model range, here in Australia there was the single variant across two generations, the original AP1 from 1999 to 2003 and then the revised AP2 from 2004 to 2009.

The AP2, while visually almost identical short of slightly larger wheels and a very subtle facelift, received a host of revisions under the skin.

From adjustments to the suspension tune to mechanical updates and additional features, it is still up for debate if these changes enhanced or degraded the S2000 experience.

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What goes wrong
  • There have been reports of models built from 2005 – 2009 being prone to tears in the roof, most notably on the right rear side. The only solution to this was to replace the cloth and hinge/frame mechanism on the rear right side.
  • It’s recommended that you don’t put the S2000 through a high pressure automatic car wash. As water may not only leak into the  car but also damage the roof itself.
  • Being an ageing convertible, it’s bound to have some rattles in the roof and the best way to address this is by lubing the pivot points and hinges/locking mechanisms.
  • It is critical to check for rust and honestly check everywhere. This is why it’s so incredibly important to have a thorough pre-purchase inspection carried out before you buy one of these, rust is evil.
  • Inside excessive condensation from the air conditioner can lead to a build up of water which drips into the passenger footwell, this is most commonly due to the lower heater housing seam which would need resealing.
  • The cooling hose for the air conditioner motor has been known to clog up and if this happens the air conditioning fan usually overheats and in the worst case scenario, blows the fuse and actually melts the fan.
  • Mechanically when these were made, in terms of reliability Honda were at the top of their game.
  • If an S2000 has been well maintained and not seriously thrashed, they are extremely reliable. Actually, even if they’ve been thrashed, they’re still fairly reliable.
  • They’re not perfect though. The most common complaint is oil consumption and if you’re looking to buy one there’s no real way of knowing if that’s an issue or not until after you’ve been driving it for a few thousand kilometres. Its less likely to be a problem if it’s been well maintained so make sure you check the service history.
  • Other common problems are oil leaks which higher mileage ones tend to have.
  • Another issue to look out for is worn timing chain tensioners. You can typically hear that rattling on cold start up.
  • Early examples have been around for 20 years now, so you should be checking everything in the engine bay made of rubber or plastic as it is all be getting a bit tired now.
  • In terms of transmissions and drivelines, higher milage or examples that have had a hard life can suffer from synchro issues and usually its second gear that crunches if you’re shifting aggressively and that can be a fairly costly repair.
  • The differential is a Torsen LSD which doesn’t have clutch packs that wear out so in a well-maintained standard car they are usually no trouble.
Model range, pricing & features

S2000

  • Price when new: $68,450 - $75,249
  • Price used: $35,000 - $120,000

The S2000 was released in August 1999 fitted with a 2.0-litre 4 cylinder petrol engine (FC20 engine), mated to a six-speed manual transmission, and rear wheel drive.

There were three main updates to the S2000, one in 2002 which added polished alloy wheels, glass rear window with defroster, 4-speaker sound system, larger CD stacker and additional storage nets.

An update in 2004 saw a revised manual transmission with a carbon fibre-type synchromesh component fitted for all forward gears as well as a more rigid clutch housing and new clutch delay system; as well as LED tail lights, wind deflector and revised electric power steering.

Then 2006, ESC, traction control and drive-by-wire throttle control was also introduced.

Apart from the three main updates, the standard features stayed the same, and Australia did not get any special editions that were released in the Japanese or North American market such as the Type V or Club Racer (which featured the F22C1 4-cylinder petrol engine with more torque).

Features:

16-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Limited slip differential
Power soft-top roof
Chrome exhaust tips
Stop/start system
Dual exhaust
2 airbags: driver and front passenger airbags
3-point seatbelts
Seat pretensioners for for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Rear vision mirror
Electric side mirrors
Electric windows – front only
Digital instrumentation
Headlights with low and high beam
Remote central locking
Engine immobiliser
Tachometer
Fuel gauge
Power steering
Leather steering wheel
Single-zone climate control
Leather upholstery
2-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
6-disc CD stacker
Cassette tape deck
Glovebox
Centre console storage
Cup holder
12V power outlet

2002 update:
Polished alloy wheels
Glass rear window with defroster
Silver highlights in instrument cluster
4-speaker sound system
10-disc CD stacker
Additional storage nets

2004 update:
Revised manual transmission
New bumpers
New headlight assemblies
LED tail-lights
Wind deflector
Revised electric power steering

2006 update:
Electronic stability control (ESC)
Traction control
Drive-by-wire throttle control

Should you buy it?

Obviously you shouldn’t buy an abused or badly modified S2000 unless you want it as a project car, but besides that, there are very few reasons you shouldn’t buy an S2000.

In terms of topless performance cars, the S2000 continues to nail the brief. Immense driver engagement, superb dynamics, an immensely tuneable and responsive platform, Honda’s exceptional build quality and reliability and values that still seem to continue to rise, not only is an S2000 one of the all time great performance cars, it could very well end up being an investment.

We actually argue that this makes for a far more intelligent choice over a boat load of far more exotic alternatives.

Just please be careful of dodgy ones, make sure it has a faultless history and have a thorough pre-purchase inspection carried out, if it ticks all those boxes, yes, buy one and if you can’t buy, just find a way to at least drive one.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years/80,000kms
3 years/100,000kms (from 2002)

Servicing:

6 months/10,000kms

Tech specs

Body style:

2 door convertible

Engines:

2.0-litre petrol 4-cylinder

Power:

176kW

Torque:

208Nm

Transmission & drivetrains:

6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive (RWD)

Fuel consumption:

10.0L/100km

Length:

4145mm

Width:

1750mm

Height:

1285mm

Kerb Weight:

1259-1285kg

Disclaimer

Information correct as of September 23, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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