Honda SA's flagship, the new S2000, emits a spine-tingling wail as its engine spins past 8 000 r/min with alacrity. "Be warned", the S2000 suggests, "poseur ragtops have met their nemesis".
Honda SA's flagship, the new S2000, emits a spine-tingling wail as its engine spins past 8 000 r/min with alacrity. "Be warned", the S2000 suggests, "poseur ragtops have met their nemesis".

The refreshed S2000 is fitted with a two-litre double-overhead camshaft four-cylinder VTEC engine producing 177 kW at a heady 8 300 r/min, which Honda SA managing director Masahiro Matsushita claims, is the best normally-aspirated engine in the world.

Lofty claims indeed, but, when mated to a close-ratio, short-throw six-speed gearbox, the engine is clearly suited to the S2000 package. Honda SA claims a top speed of 240 km/h and zero to 100 km/h dash time of 6,2 seconds for the S2000. The engine develops maximum torque figure of 208 N.m, but the car really performs best when it is revved hard.

So, when exiting a slow corner, dip the clutch, slot the stubby gearshift into second gear and floor the loud pedal... the bustling engine note rises steadily (as the orange electronic readout on the dashboard climbs up to 4 000 r/min), breaks into to a high-pitched crescendo at about 6 000, and, while the scenery is rapidly blurred in your peripheral vision, the S2000 shrieks past 8 000 r/min without protest or hesitation. Now select third gear and do it again.

Would most (law-abiding) motorists drive the S2000 in that fashion on a daily basis? Unlikely, but enthusiasts acknowledge the car's reputation as a true driver's car. The new model remains true to the legacy of its predecessor, but has been given cosmetic updates and, notably, improvements to the chassis and steering.

The 2004-spec S2000 has received new front and rear bumpers, projector-style high intensity discharge low beam headlamps, triple lens LED taillights, and for the fashionistas, twin chromed tailpipes and attractive 17-inch alloys and tyres.

Under the skin, the S2000's body has been stiffened by a new performance strut between the two ends of the front frame and ahead of the radiator, and additional bracing to the front suspension upper arm brackets, the rear wheel arch/bulkhead area, and the front cross member.

Springs and dampers are now stiffer at the front and softer in the rear suspension, while the rear anti-roll bar is reduced in diameter by 1,8 mm. Although the adhesive capabilities of the S2000 were not tested to the limit on the test route, the S2000 displayed impressive refinement and poise through the twisties and fast sweeps. The ride is still quite sensitive to undulations in the road, but first impressions indicate that the new
S2000 should be less tail-happy than its predecessor...

Meanwhile, the electrical power steering (EPS) system has been adjusted and the steering gear ratio is seven per cent "slower". There is a more rigid clutch housing and differential casing to decrease drivetrain and therefore cabin vibration.

In the black, leather-clad cabin, the S2000's door panels have been redesigned at both elbow and shoulder level to increase elbow room by up to 20mm. New detailing includes a seamless leather trim for the gear knob, aluminium-look trim for the headrests, audio panel and centre console. A new storage tray provides storage space for small items and two cup holders, covered by a one-touch sliding lid.

The interior of the car can best be described as ergonomically sound, but the facia switchgear is too chunky and looks palpably unsophisticated by European standards. The S2000's bright orange digital instrument display will not be to everyone's taste.

The S2000 comes standard with a three-year/100 000km warranty, three-year/60 000km maintenance plan and a one-year roadside assistance program and is sold at eight of Honda's 25 dealers in South Africa: Honda Auto Bloemfontein, Honda Auto Cape Town CBD, Honda Auto East Rand Mall, Honda Auto Gateway, Honda Auto Menlyn, Honda Auto Port Elizabeth, Honda Auto Sandton and Honda Auto West Rand.

Original article from Car