Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • High-revving, traditional Honda VTEC power
  • 240hp for UK-market cars, JDM models up to 250hp
  • Sophisticated upgrades mean the engine needs specialist care

The S2000 has a superb engine and the four-cylinder unit is the most powerful non-turbocharged 2.0-litre around, producing 240bhp. It’s quite a raw engine though and needs to be revved hard to tap into the maximum performance.

That does mean that the Honda is very docile and easy to drive in town, but above 6,000rpm it is a very different animal. The VTEC engine screams into life at this point and delivers intoxicating pace along with a frantic driving experience similar to the Civic Type-R.

How fast is an unmodified S2000?

0-62mph comes up in just 6.2 seconds but economy suffers – the Honda manages just 28mpg and hard acceleration will soon see this drop. At motorway speeds the engine sits at quite high revs and is noisy as a result.

Common S2000 engine problems and upgrades

Not a problem, as such, but one to watch – the Honda S2000’s engine consumes oil. It uses up to a litre every 1,000 miles, though many owners report that consumption can be closer to a litre every 3,000 miles – either way, be prepared to check the oil and have a 250ml bottle in the car for every tank of fuel.

As a rule, pre-2003 cars – known as AP1 – have a reputation for using more oil than AP2.

Higher-mileage cars can burn oil, which can cause problems with the emissions system as well as indicating engine wear.

In all cases, the car should use 10W30 or 5W40 synthetic engine oil; oil consumption may be exacerbated by using traditionally ‘premium’ oils such as Mobil 1 0W40.

Some cars have been known to suffer cracks in the valve retainers if the engine has been overrevved. That can happen if the driver has changed down to too low a gear, and it’s a problem in part because the highly-tuned engine can rev up to 9,000rpm.

These can be upgraded to the retainers from the US-market 2.2-litre engine while adjusting the valves, and it’s a good upgrade for a moderate cost, as failure can lead to catastrophic engine damage. For more information on this failure and upgrade, look up F22 S2000 valve retainers.

Some imported or modified cars may feature that 2.2-litre engine, and Japanese-market cars claim to produce 250hp with the 2.0-litre.

How does the Honda S2000 handle?

In everyday driving, the S2000 is fairly docile and easy, although the ride is quite firm which is instantly noticeable on anything other than very smooth road surfaces.

It can be more than handful at higher speeds though, especially as it’s rear-wheel drive and early cars came without traction control. Revisions in 2002 and 2004 tweaked the chassis for better high speed control with firmer suspension – all aimed at making the S2000 more stable while larger 17-inch alloy wheels give increased grip.

In 2006, a stability control system was added to the options list and it’s a worthwhile addition giving added confidence when driving in less than perfect conditions.