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All Torque

by Neil Blackbourn


Chance meetings

I had a chance meeting the other day with someone, and they just happened to have in their possession a piece of what I am sure will become a piece of motoring history. The Honda S2000. What a car! But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Honda S2000 is Honda's 'mini NSX' I feel. The two-door rear-engined rear drive 4 cylinder convertible is not a bad looking car, and this is from someone who admits he really doesn't like most two doors. The BMW Z3 and this car are really the thing this side of Ferrari and of course the aforementioned NSX! The cockpit is sufficient for two people, and they are divided by a large transmission tunnel, on which is mounted the short stubby metal gearchange lever. The car does not even have a glovebox - it has a sort of small storage area big enough for a wallet and a few CD's, but that's it - and that is mounted in between the two passengers at the rear of the cabin. This car is made for one thing - getting from A to B quickly! But don't get me wrong, the seats are gorgeous, and the small 'Momo-style' wheel is fabulous. The electric roof is easy to get rid of if you feel the need for wind in your hair motoring. You know you are in a very well built car, and then you start the motor.

We hope to drive this car in the UK very soon

The over 170kW engine (at very high RPM!) really urges you to have a go, the V-TEC kicking in at about 5,500rpm. Then the engine really starts working with a rewarding snarl, and the scenery exits behind you swiftly. The Bridgestone Potenzas are made to work around corners, as the Honda has virtually no body roll to speak of, and the chassis can take more of the same. This car would be an outstanding track car, but it is tractable enough to be driven often. But two things stick in my mind from the S2000.

Remember the short stubby metal gear lever? This car is serious, with a six speed manual transmission - it has a gear for every situation. OK, fifth and sixth are overdriven and could probably come down a bit, but they are useable gears nevertheless. The throw is what you would normally associate with a short first to neutral change, but very positive. And if you don't feel that you are going to quite make that corner at this speed, just throw out the anchors. The four-wheel discs are very visible when outside the car, as they are not token items, I feel they would not look out of place on any performance car. They are smooth and progressive, and boy, do you stop!

Honda's recommended retail price in Oz is under the Z3 BMW, and with the performance rear drive package that the Honda engineers have put together, the reign of the Z3 may just be over as the popular sports car of the next year.

Neil Blackbourn - neilb@carenthusiast.co.uk


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