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Thread: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Time machines do exist.

    If you want to remember what was really quick - and state of the art - circa 1999, take a drive in an '08 Honda S2000. It hasn't changed much since then - which has its good points as well as its bad points.

    It all depends on your perspective.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    In late 1999, when the first S2000s appeared, the 9,000 RPM capable 2.0 liter VTEC dual overhead cam four caused jaws to drop and hands to clap. The thing had a rev range like a 1,000 cc sport bike - and felt and sounded like one, too.

    On the other hand, there was virtually no low speed torque - literally. Barely 100 lbs.-ft. under 3,000 RPM, in fact. It was therefore easy to stall the thing in traffic. But this only enhanced its exotic, race-car feel. Because once up in the power band - around 6,000 RPM - the thing came alive like a nest of angry yellow jackets. That was the point at which the variable cam/valve timing (very high tech stuff in '99) got Medieval, so to speak. The digital bar graph tach swept wildly past 8,000 and output spiked at a then-impressive 240 ponies.

    Looked at in terms of power per liter of displacement, the S2000's teensy little four was making more hp than a Viper V-10. Put that kind of power in a featherweight (2,600 pounds or so) short-wheelbase rear wheel drive roadster and the resulting performance was exotic: Zero to 60 in about 5.5 seconds, with a top speed around 150 mph. Wow!

    Fast forward eight years.

    The '08 S2000's as quick as ever - but others have caught up. A Nissan 350Z is about as quick. So is a BMW Z4 roadster. A MazdaSpeed Miata will run with it, too. And these are just mid-pack performers, by the standards of 2008.

    Get into a Mitsubishi EVO or Subaru WRX - both of which cost less than the $34,300 (to start) S2000 - and you'll get to 60 about a second sooner.

    The bar has been raised.

    In the Late Clinton Years, 240 horsepower from a 2 liter engine was almost supernatural. Today, the EVO supplies nearly 300 horsepower from 2 liters. Granted, turbos are involved - but still. The larger point is the S2000's no longer one of the meanest things going - at least in a straight line.

    RIDE & HANDLING

    Here's where the years have been much kinder to the S2000. It remains one of the best handling, no-BS, hard core performance roadsters you can buy - at any price. Especially the new CR (Club Racing) version, which is about 100 pounds lighter than the standard S2000 and receives a faster ratio steering box, chassis stiffeners, track-firm suspension calibrations (skip the coffee!) and super-sticky 45-series Bridgestone Potenza tires. These will not last long (there's a disclaimer on the side window advising you that reduced tread life is a fact of life with such tires) but you will have fun while they last!

    Steering response is sharper than a Samurai's Katana sword; "cutting the corners" becomes just exactly that. There is no body roll at all. If you like 'em stiff, you will love the CR. As always, the car has a near-perfect 50-50 weight split. A Lotus or M3 BMW is the closest to it. But all play on the same level - and that is a serious compliment for a car whose basic design is so much older than either of those two. An EVO is similarly sharp, but its AWD layout gives a different feel under high-g cornering. If you enjoy being able to wag your tail every now and then, the rear-drive S2000's got what you want. It's not a Burnout Master due to the low torque output, but the wild side is still more accessible than it is in anything with AWD. And arguably, takes more skill to see things through on the knife edge of the car's grip. AWD lets you go a bit faster with less skill - and is there to save your bacon if you get in too deep. The S2000 is an expert's car. It can be extremely rewarding. But it can bite you, too.

    Be careful.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    Classic roadster styling; long hood, compact passenger cabin - tight but. The CR version ($36,300) adds a body kit that includes integrated front chin spoiler and rocker panel extensions - plus a huge trunk-mounted airfoil. It's a functional piece (on the race track and at high speeds, it provides downforce to keep the tail end planted) but to my eye does not fit the car's lines at all. It's also the visual equivalent of rolling down the window at a traffic light and saying "oink oink!" to a cop. It makes them draw a bead on you - even if you're doing just exactly the speed limit. Anything over and you will be sweating if you pass Officer Friendly. He might ignore a Taurus doing 72 in a 65. He will not ignore you. I liked the CR's chassis enhancements (and manual removable hardtop) but I wish the airfoil came in the trunk, not on it.

    The interior is minimalist but fits the car's single-purpose mission. Everything you need - nothing you don't. The digital dash is still basically the same as it was eight years ago. It is interesting, but a little dated. I'm not a huge fan of the bar graph tach layout. It is highly legible, but doesn't seem as immediately responsive an analog gauge.

    Honda does provide a green up-shift light, however.

    Two other areas where the S2000's age is showing: The race car-style push button starter was a Big Thing when the car was introduced. Today's push-button ignition is common - and keyless. The S2000's isn't. You first have to insert a physical key into the steering column - then you can push "start." Most '08 cars with push button ignitions simply require you to carry the keyless transmitter in your pocket or purse.

    The other crickety thing is the S2000's ancient looking stereo. It says "aftermarket" - not OEM. Sound quality is mediocre, too.

    Still, the S2000's cabin is much better laid out than, for example, the much newer-design Saturn Sky (and Pontiac Solstice), which have inaccessible switches for the power windows, a fuel gauge that's so deeply tunneled into the dash that it's sometimes impossible to read - and so much wind/road noise intruding into the cabin at highway speeds that you'd swear you were driving a '69 MG. There is a nice little cubby in the console; not huge - but enough for things like house keys, a cell phone and some pocket change. All the controls are no fuss. And the body integrity/sealing is still among the best on the market. It looks - and feels - like a quality piece.

    QUALITY/SAFETY

    See above on quality. The car is tight as a drum. Superb fit and finish; lots of attention to detail - examples of which include the soft suede inserts and contrast gold stitching on the door panels and seats of my tested CR model. (Honda will make just 1,500 of these, fyi.)

    Though it lacks side or head/curtain air bags (another sign of the car's age) it has performed well in both government and insurance industry crash testing. Honda's VSA electronic traction/stability control system is standard. The track-worthy high-performance disc brakes (with ABS) add some proactive safety, too.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    Despite a few signs of age, I still love the S2000. It's no longer one of the quickest performance roadsters or sport compacts out there, but it is raw and fierce and free of a lot of the (to me) stifling over-technology that is creeping like Kudzu into modern performance cars. The CR model I had for a week had an old fashioned hardtop (in place of the standard S2000's power soft-top) that you just unbolt and stow, easy-peasy Japaneesy. No electronic nanny running interference between you and the peaky little wasp of an engine. Switch off the VSA - and it is off - and stays off. (I have noticed that in more and more new cars, not only is the traction/stability control hard to turn off, if you do manage to shut it down, the damn thing will sometimes turn itself back on after a few minutes. Gotta think about the children, I guess.)

    Like riding a sport bike, the few controls you need to access are literally at your fingertips. You have to reach for nothing. The short-throw six-speed manual is a joy to play with. There is no automatic transmission available - further testimony to this car's purity of purpose. Ditto the wonderful mechanical thrashing sounds of the VTEC four. Yeah, the stereo sucks. But who cares? You have better things to listen to in this car - and if you'd rather listen to tunes, then this is not the car for you anyhow.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    There is still nothing like the S2000 - even eight years later. The Lotus Elise is similar, but its Toyota-sourced engine can't match the sweetness of the still-impressive Honda VTEC, especially as the thing gets "on the cam" beyond 6,000 RPM. A Porsche Boxster costs $10,000 more - to start. The Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice are very pretty cars - but seriously flawed from an ergonomic perspective and can't match the handling capability or quality feel and "put togetherness" of the Honda.

    It won't - and probably can't - last much longer.

    Enjoy it while it's still around.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Posted this review on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...2&Itemid=10848

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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Wow, that *is* a big wing on the back of it.

    Not Lancer Evo big, but still huge.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  4. #4

    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    lol, they know who their target audience is, thats for sure
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Wow, that *is* a big wing on the back of it.

    Not Lancer Evo big, but still huge.

    Chip H.
    It's even bigger "in the flesh"!

    I understand a certain element likes these things, but (a) it's mostly useless on a street car and (b) does not fit the car at all and (c) is going to make any cop you come near see you sooner and look you over more thoroughly. Who - other than a wet behind the ears teenager - wants that? Tickets - and getting hassled by cops - is far from my idea of cool.

    This car would be much better in silver or grey - and without the wing.


  6. #6
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    That wing is egregious, but the color is great. Sports cars should be painted racing colors, not sombre luxo-cruiser colors.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    That wing is egregious, but the color is great. Sports cars should be painted racing colors, not sombre luxo-cruiser colors.
    I like to keep a low profile. If you're going to own a car like this, you'll want to use it as designed. If it's bright red or blue, it will be more visible, especially when moving fast in relation to traffic. Such a car is much easier to spot from a distance, too. I can tell you (based on 15 years of test driving new cars of all types/colors) that cops absolutely do notice flashy cars more than they do cars that blend in with traffic. And when you do get pulled, a flashy car will decrease your chances of getting a warning. "F" that. It's not worth the hassle.

    I'd happily trade some zippy color for a bit less visibility.

    Why call attention to yourself?

    I always feel like a marked man when I am driving a bright red/blue/yellow high-performance car. It makes the experience a lot less fun.

    The silver Audi S6 (V-10, 435 hp) I had last week "runs silent, runs deep." To me, that is the ticket.

  8. #8

    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    runs boring, you mean?
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    I agree with Damen, I'd rather drive a bright color car than a bland color. For instance if I was able to buy a new Challenger SRT8 - orange would be the color for me. However a bright color if you are speeding will attract the cops. For instance if you are in a grouping of cars all going 70 mph in a 55 mph zone on the highway going by a speedtrap, guess which car the cop is going to pull over? Probably the bright sports car.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the days of speeding on US roads is over. I usually do the speed limit, if traffic is moving faster than the speed limit, I'll do 5 - 10 mph faster than speed limit but I'll never go faster than that. Getting any points these days is just too expensive. Paul Craig Roberts said it best in a recent interview where he stated with the modern police state, you want to go the speed limit and not give the cops any reason to pull you over.

  10. #10

    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    I never do the speed limit - always at 10 over. I try not to go higher than that, but I've never been pulled over only doing 10 over.
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    runs boring, you mean?
    I wouldn't call 435 hp (and 10 cylinders) boring!

    The car has incredible high speed legs; it feels completely at home at 140-plus.

    And I feel less exposed driving it 10-15 over the limit, too. Do this long enough and you may also get sick of driving a car that draws immediate unfriendly attention from every cop you come near. In the Audi, I could blend into the background; unless I was the only car on the road, a cop would be far more likely to notice me later - or not at all. In the S2000 or anything like it, you stick out like a clown in a porno movie... the cops see you coming sooner, focus on you first relative to other cars - and are more likely to hassle you for doing 10 over than otherwise. That has been my experience, anyhow -

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    I never do the speed limit - always at 10 over. I try not to go higher than that, but I've never been pulled over only doing 10 over.
    First, you've been lucky. Give it time; the odds are against you - unless you're the exception to the rule!

    Second, 10 over is boring. I routinely drive much faster. And in Va, more than 20 mph over the posted max can result in a "reckless driving" cite - and serious (and expensive) hassles that will be hassles (and expensive) for years. Anything I can do to lower my risk profile seems to be a smart move in my book. Pass a cop doing 76 in a 55 in your red Corvette and the odds are much greater he will give you the Full Monte - whereas if I am doing the same speed in what looks like a "regular car" my odds of being able to either avoid the ticket entirely or at least get the cop to drop it down to a mere speeding ticket (vs. the "reckless" cite) are much improved.

    Again, I offer this counsel based on more than 25 years of driving - and 15-plus years of driving new cars (fast!) every week. The way you're noticed and reacted to by cops varies amazingly depending on what you happen to be driving.

  13. #13
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    I agree with Damen, I'd rather drive a bright color car than a bland color. For instance if I was able to buy a new Challenger SRT8 - orange would be the color for me. However a bright color if you are speeding will attract the cops. For instance if you are in a grouping of cars all going 70 mph in a 55 mph zone on the highway going by a speedtrap, guess which car the cop is going to pull over? Probably the bright sports car.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the days of speeding on US roads is over. I usually do the speed limit, if traffic is moving faster than the speed limit, I'll do 5 - 10 mph faster than speed limit but I'll never go faster than that. Getting any points these days is just too expensive. Paul Craig Roberts said it best in a recent interview where he stated with the modern police state, you want to go the speed limit and not give the cops any reason to pull you over.
    Exactly. It just sucks ass.

    I bought the Valentine One today, by the way....

  14. #14
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    I never do the speed limit - always at 10 over. I try not to go higher than that, but I've never been pulled over only doing 10 over.
    You can get away with 10 mph over on the interstates and highways. But doing 10 mph over in a 25 mph zone in some areas will get you nabbed. You have been very lucky. In the county where you live the police are pretty laid back, but if you go 10 mph in other local jusisticians such as Fairfax City, City of Vienna, Falls Church City, Arlington County, etc. to name a few you will get nabbed. As an example in Arlington they even hide behind trees with radar guns.

  15. #15
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    I never do the speed limit - always at 10 over. I try not to go higher than that, but I've never been pulled over only doing 10 over.
    You can get away with 10 mph over on the interstates and highways. But doing 10 mph over in a 25 mph zone in some areas will get you nabbed. You have been very lucky. In the county where you live the police are pretty laid back, but if you go 10 mph in other local jusisticians such as Fairfax City, City of Vienna, Falls Church City, Arlington County, etc. to name a few you will get nabbed. As an example in Arlington they even hide behind trees with radar guns.
    Exactly!

    And if you are driving a red Corvette 10 over in a 25, expect no mercy....

  16. #16

    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    lol I do 10 over EVERYWHERE, so I guess I've just been fantastically lucky - considering I'm always in the Vette or the Evo
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    I think it varies by state. In Florida, 10 over won't even get you a look. 15 over will get you a reduced charge ticket which you can get blown out of most courtrooms, except in the most extreme red neck, reactionary backwoods counties in FL.

    I am not sure what rules apply to residential tickets, as I am sure that residential tickets make up a small part of tickets written.

    DO NOT speed in Sumter County. 65 should be tops in their 55 mph roads.


    In a 70 mph zone, however, I keep my cruise speed right around 80-85 depending on traffic. 90 will get you a guaranteed fat ticket, although cop density isn't really all that bad around here, so you can push a little higher. Don't spend too much time there, as it will catch up to you.



  18. #18
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    lol I do 10 over EVERYWHERE, so I guess I've just been fantastically lucky - considering I'm always in the Vette or the Evo
    You've been lucky - and you're young. You've only been driving about 9 years; probably only driving a car like your Corvette for five (or less).

    Keep on keeping on - and I guarantee you'll feel the pinch.


  19. #19

    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    actually... my car history is pretty high-end
    camaro iroc-z convertible
    supercharged miata
    corvette
    evo
    my only really low-end cars were my 2 88/89 Cavalier Z24s (which was an absolutely fantastic car, btw, and the only car I ever got ticketed in)
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  20. #20
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Honda S2000 CR

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    actually... my car history is pretty high-end
    camaro iroc-z convertible
    supercharged miata
    corvette
    evo
    my only really low-end cars were my 2 88/89 Cavalier Z24s (which was an absolutely fantastic car, btw, and the only car I ever got ticketed in)
    Yep - but still relatively brief. You're 25... so by my count that means you've been driving for about 9 years. Give it time....

    The longer you drive, the more the odds begin to work against you... .

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