And now for my next review: the Honda S2000. Let's not beat around the bush or mince words here. Let's
get right to the point. This is one of those cars that delivers everything it promises.
Not to get too enthusiastic too early, but the S2000 is one hell of an automobile. Some cars may have
a sporty look, while some may have an aggressively intimidating one. Some look as though they'll be track-worthy,
as if they just can't wait to prove their merit to the driver. Rev their engines, and they may also sound
like they mean business. You find yourself barely able to wait the 30 or 40 seconds necessary to buy such a car, get
into a race, and then pounce the nearest wimp in your way.
But after actually taking these guys to
the track, they quickly betray themselves as oily, slick-talking poseurs, which aren't what they promised to be at all. Perhaps
they need alot of work. Perhaps they're understeery, fishtailing messes, or somehow much more sluggish than they seemed they
might be. Perhaps they can't even top 120 miles per hour! Well thankfully, none of this applies to the
Honda S2000. Check this out folks...here's a car which promises, and then follows
thru on said promises. It's like a good friend you can trust when you need money for pizza, or to help you beat up the guy
that stole your money.
I mean, here's one sporty-looking car that actually is a sports car by many
definitions. It's got the looks, it's appropriately weighted, and to top things off, it's also got
the balanced, neutral performance we've been seeking. Best part is, it does all this for an affordable price! Since
we can't toy around with a BMW Z3 in GT2 or 3, or a Porsche that doesn't cost less than 6 figures, this Honda will have to
do, and for the most part, it does just fine!
When the S2000 was released, its main competition from Europe was the BMW Z3 (about $37,000), the
Porsche Boxter ($41,000), and the Mercedes CLK (which tops the list at $42,000). This makes the Honda's price of just over
$33,000 pretty attractive. GT4 and GT5 feature used models too, some of which cost roughly half this. Mazda's
MX-5 is another obvious competitor. The MX-5 is often several thousand credits cheaper than the S2000, but hasn't got the Honda's
power. A stock S2000 will blow away a stock MX-5 every time, if we're talkin' pure speed.
In every way possible...cost, acceleration, handling, speed, looks, sound, track-worthiness, maneuverability,
tuning capabilities...you name it, the Honda S2000 is as impressive as many others with higher price tags, in real life as
well as in our games. It's more expensive than a Miata, but also manages to be faster while keeping the Miata's track-prowess.
This was quite a step for Honda, a company known for its hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, and coupes, to have created this car
when they did, since they hadn't mass-produced a true rear-drive sports car since the late '60s. Many of Honda's earliest
efforts (the S600, S800, etc.) can be found in GT4, by the way. The S2000 is merely the next leap.
car', I'm going by the general old-skool definition of a 2-seater, 2-door, rear-drive automobile with an emphasis
on overall performance (rather than safety, fuel-efficiency, hauling capabilities, comfort, etc). The S2000 is not jam-packed
with unnecessary gadgets or weight. Instead, the car itself is what's supposed to please us as we motor
it around...not an iDrive, not a GPS/Nav screen, not heated seats with programmable arrangements, not high-tech
climate controls, nor many other gizmos currently found in many modern 'sports' cars that do nothing but distract
the driver from what he/she ought to be focusing upon: the road.
The NSX (in comparison to the
S2000) is a mighty sports car, but for the purpose of this discussion, doesn't count since it's more of an exotic--produced
in lower numbers at a much higher price. About the only thing the NSX shares with the S2000 is its push-button ignition switch.
Visually, the S2000 has a long hood with a short deck area; classic roadster material. The hood is
long even though a good portion of the engine has been mounted behind the front axle, and this is how Honda has acheived the
50/50 weight distribution that works so well in this car. Weight reductions aren't a necessity right away for many situations.
Those 2,700 or so pounds help keep the S2000 stable at first, without making it feel clumsy or oafish. If there's
a criticism, it is that when Stage 3 weight redux is applied, some of this stability is lost. But this isn't much of
a problem when we look at how even more maneuverable the car becomes.
Another small criticism: there are not so many available colors for this roadster, perhaps because
when it was released, the S2000 was new. Perhaps Honda wanted to provide only those colors which were the top sellers?
This car first appeared in Gran Turismo 2, where the PS1's shoddy detailing is as good as it gets. Somehow,
PD managed to get the slightly wrinkled convertible top looking surprisingly realistic in this game. When the racing
body is bought, the convertible is junked as a more rigid top gets installed. Polyphony / GT sponsorship is plastered
all over its hood. ...Which (notice) is a bit more ledgible on this car than many of the blurry logos of others in the 2nd
Gran Turismo game! Hmmm. Gotta love advertizing.
There are two additional S2000s, other than the base model: the Spoon and
the GT-1. The Spoon S2000 can only be legally acheived by earning all Golds in the B-license tests. It is
the legendary car many walkthrough websites praise because if you can get all those golds, you can use the Spoon (which you
essentially got for free) to earn lots of early bucks as a cheater car. It also starts off about 300 pounds lighter than the
dealer's model. Personally, I wasn't as impressed with it as I am with the regular car, but I'll discuss that later.
Also in GT2: the S2000 GT-1, which is a gift from the GT Gods. It costs a million
credits, but it's worth every penny, even though it seems underpowered at first. It actually can keep up with others
possessing hundreds more horses, which mean it'll tackle the Gran Turismo All Stars and World Cup. My only complaint about
it is that it's rather bland. Despite all the cash it costs, the GT-1 can only be had in silver-gray, white with black
trim, and black with black trim. Nothing colorful for those who aren't into industrial tones. It is also a bit squeemish at
times, loves to fishtail, and is generally not a good car for green players. At only 2,116 lbs, it takes
corners easily and also has lots of downforce. It makes for a good challenge because it's not as high-powered as many other
LM or Special cars, but its prowess in turns is definately recommended. Classic Gran Turismo stuff, here.
Additional cars here are the Spoon Sports S2000 and $750,000 S2000 LM.
Again, the Spoon has many pros, but is limited in the game by a lack of power upgrades. I've personally never used it much.
Much more useful is the sharp-looking purple & black LM car, which weighs exactly the same as a Civic Type R (2,314
pounds) but gets three decent turbo upgrades that drop its power-to-weight ratio, ensuring many Amateur and
Pro league races shall be dusted.
feature a dizzying amount of S2000 cars, almost too many. From the used
lot are the original '99 and '01 base models. There is also an '04 model from the Honda dealership in GT4. GT5 adds an
'06 Premium model. Granted, there isn't much difference between most of these versions performance-wise...just a
minor difference in weight and flexibility (higher-mileage used cars also have a tendency to be more flexy in those corners).
The main advantage to buying used cars (of course) is they're much cheaper.
GT4 and 5 also feature the S2000
Type V. At first I assumed the Type V is some sort of higher-performing S2000, but then I noticed it's heavier than
base models, yet hasn't got any extra power. Why is it heavier, then? Is it supposed to be superior in some way? After
cruising the 'net, I've found it's got VGS, which stands for Variable Gear Steering. An apt description of what this does
can be found in the text and website link below. Grammar and spelling are a bit off at points, but we all can't be perfect...
2000.07 : Honda announced on July 14 that they introduce the Honda S2000 type V with
the newly developed VGS (variable gear ratio steering) for the Japanese market. The VGS, based on the rack and pinion type
steering, improve both stability and sporty handling by electrically controlling the gear ratio responding to speed and driving
conditions. The lock-to-lock ratio is almost halved to 1.4 turns for better maneuverability in the low speed range. Major
Features of the type-V are VGS system, specially developed chassis, an exclusive type-V steering wheel, and rear VGS emblem.
In our game, VGS actually makes a difference, which shall be outlined during the Handling
section. Other than the Type V, there are a multitude of other S2000s from Amuse, Opera, Spoon, and Mugen, each with a different
look and somewhat differing capabilities. The number of 'tuner' S2000s is somewhat overwhelming, to be honest, giving the
typical hoarde of Nissan Skylines some competition for disc space. But the good news is: all these different
models do (at least) have their own identities. All of them could wind up being somebody's dream car. But,
none of them is very high-powered, unfortunately.
Truth is (need I actually bother to explain) these cars
aren't just about power. But while we're on the subject...
--------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN------------
At first glance, the most obvious, most noticeable feature about the engine is its high redline. Yup,
it goes all the way to 9,000 rpms! These engines rev smooth and with vigor, even though they're only
2.0 or 2.3 liters in displacement. In real life, the S2000 features a rev-limiter at 9,000 for those ignorant enough to want
to try revving it any higher. But in the game, we can take the needle straight past redline to a significantly
higher limit before it gets bopped back.
Powerband is high, too...torque and horsepower are both at their
peak mostly in the upper ranges, thanks to Honda's VTEC valvetrain and spiky engine tuning. Real-life car reviewers have complained
about this; the lack of torque below 6,000 rpms can make for some rather tepid getaways, which can also be felt in our games.
But the truth is, when you're racing the S2000, you WON'T be spending much time below 6,000 rpms! The higher-powered GT-1
and LM versions have an even higher 9,750 rpm redline, yet also don't have much torque in the nether regions. These motors
are much more about revs and (sometimes) horsepower than they are about torque.
The result of all this is an extremely
flexible machine. Excellent traction. Wheelspin can be avoided almost entirely during races, so long as you've
got the right gear.
No turbo is available for the dealer-bought S2000s of GT2 and GT3, even as an upgrade, but
3 levels of NA tuning are for sale, and will take these cars a long way. Still, it would be nice to have
a turbo or two, maybe get the power up past 400. At best, the dealer-bought S2000 in GT2 can make it to 370 hp @
9,000 rpm with 222 ft-lbs. of torque at 8,600.
cars, on the other hand, can accept turbos. Stages 1, 2, 3, and 5 are available for base cars and Type Vs, with
ultimate power being somewhere north of 420 hp. ;-D In GT5, I was able to tweak up the following in my '99
Oil Change: 241 @ 8,000 rpm 159 @ 7,500
Tuning: 328 @ 6,600 rpm 201 @ 8,100
Stage 1 NA: 335 @ 8,700
203 @ 8,200
Stage 2 NA: 349 @ 8,800
209 @ 8,300
Stage 3 NA: 360 @ 8,900
213 @ 8,400
Trbo Stage 1: 382 @ 8,900 rpm 230 @ 7,900
Trbo Stage 2: 394
@ 8,900 244 @ 6,900
Trbo Stage 3: 429
@ 9,100 253 @ 8,900
And unfortunately, this is not enough for some of the events I've tried to enter this car in this game, like Supercar
Festival, World Cup, and some of the Tuned Car Grand Prix races. But in earlier games, the S2000 can last quite awhile, and
perform in many arenas.
Despite what seems like less-than-average torque, these engines
rev vigorously, mostly since their high redlines allow them to do so. And despite what seems to be a lack of
total power upgrades, I have found that often the S2000 can compete against cars with hundreds more power under their hoods,
mostly due to the Honda's excellent handling qualities.
Acceleration is amazing, but this depends which game
is being played. Despite the fact that I test all cars in the same manner as I accelerate them (reving from idle to redline
starting in 1st gear), I got some wildly different results in a couple games. I managed 5.5 seconds from
zero to 60 mph in GT2, for instance. The quarter mile was passed in 14.3 seconds. This is acceptably close
to the numbers found at
www.Supercars.net (5.5 and 14.8) gained from testing a real-life S2000. The acceleration found in GT4, on the other hand, is
oddly way off: zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds! Quarter mile in 15.2. Strange.
game, this acceleration is doled out smoothly, with no feeling of haste or folly, and without excessive noise or smoking.
I have noticed a small bit of lag in GT5, but once the VTEC starts to kick in, this car does start moving with
greater vigor. As I was testing this car on its stock radials in this game, first thing I noticed was I could throw the throttle
all the way to the floor, and with absolutely zero wheelspin off-the-mark.
So for any stretch,
the S2000 putts right alongside the Big Boys. Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, BMWs, even Porsches and TVRs...they'll
all get a run for their money even before the S2000 engine is highly modified, simply because these cheaper Hondas are so
flexible in ways other than just pure torque from the engine.
Another sweet feature of any S2000? Its 6-speed
gearbox. Whether you're a manual shifter or prefer automatics, these gears are perfect for many courses, even while
stock. Just tall enough for the Test Track, yet flexible enough for some twistier courses. Closer gears can also be had,
of course, but they're not always necessary. Fully-modifyable gears are very optional; I can see maybe using them at
the most challenging of races, perhaps.
Then again, recently I did GT4's Grand Valley 300KM endurance race
in an S2000, certainly a top-challenge event. Every part of the car was modified except the transmission and limited-slip,
which was also kept stock. Modifyable units were NOT needed, even as I pounded my winged S2000 around the course, nearly getting
dogged by the usual JGTC and DTM full-racing machines. Both of these items (tranny and LSD) are already near-perfect as they
are, you see.
Honda did a great job here, so why mess with perfection?
------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------
And speaking of perfect, here's where things really get lovely!
The real-life car has one of
the most rigid chassis & bodywork available on the market, despite the fact that it is a convertible. Spring rates in
Gran Turismo are calculated at 3.2 and 2.9 kg/mm front to rear, which is where many Sports suspensions in lesser vehicles
begin their life. Needless to say, when a Sports suspension is finally purchased for the S2000, it's usually only
an effort at making things more comfortable for one's driving style. We won't actually NEED an upgrade here
if we've got some experience.
The S2000 is one of the most balanced platforms on the modern market. Understeer is
virtually nonexistent, even in GT4. Traction is always guaranteed, even when power is pushed far upwards. Grip grip grip.
The front-end occasionally gets grabby, but it's easy to tune this away. If there's one criticism which can be made early
on, it's that the S2000 offers too many options so far as cornering capabilites go. Steering is wildly accurate.
Braking is phenomenal. Et cetera. Some drivers may not like the S2000's helpful personality, which is fine. They only need
to install a limited-slip, or somehow tune the car for more understeer, which can easily be accomplished.
the main difference between the base car and Type V. After driving both around Laguna Seca for many laps, it's definitely
apparent that the Type V is the more sanitized, less fun version. It's front-end isn't as aggressive with steering input,
which means the entire car has a habit of taking racing lines in a safer manner. I much prefer the base S2000s, of course.
No VGS on these cars means they have a different cornering flavor overall.
Driving any of these cars, their 50/50
weight distribution works extremely well. In GT2 and GT3, the S2000 can be either a drifter or a gripper...it's very
adaptable back and forth in these games. GT4's S2000s, on the other hand, are mostly all about grip. But the
good news? Throttle-induced oversteer, lift-off oversteer, trail-braking, throttlesteer, and other typical sports car showboating
behaviors can be played with in any Gran Turismo.
started my S2000 career in this game's Supercar Challenge. Found a couple S2000s in the used car lot: a '99 model and one
from 2001. The newer car had less miles on it, and started with 2 extra horsepower (231 hp versus 229). I kept the newer car
stock, but tweaked the '99 vehicle massively. The main difference between the two cars (other than speed)? The stock
machine is just a little more loose in the turns, yet we can almost always work with this car.
Initial drive around
High Speed Ring in the stock machine turned out to be just as satisfactory as I remember. The S2000 is like a high-speed spider.
It may not be able to climb walls like an eight-legged arachnid, but the S2000 tends to move along, always gripping
the road. Turns? Straights? Chicanes? Esses? It don't matter. The S2000 has a habit of skittering through them, the driver
given a list of options about as long as a menu at Denny's. ;)
Understeer barely exists in this car,
in this game. "Understeer" is a word you may forget how to pronounce, after an entire day of Honda S2000 driving and
racing. And as the front-end digs into many turns, notice it won't always GRAB massively, not usually right away, anyways,
but this is due to the fact that (from the factory) we've got radial tires installed instead of sports. So minimal understeer
... minimal grabbing. And it only gets better from here.
The rear of the car is where some drivers might have some
problems, since it is often getting a tad loose. Show some restraint here, n00by S2000 drivers; giving too much throttle at
the wrong moment can cause this roadster to lose traction, swing and fishtail, and maybe even spin. That last word (spin)
is something we've not seen before, except maybe in GT2. For those who are more experienced, this car always welcomes
us to explore such behaviors! It wants us to keep pushing and experimenting.
Put some hard
sport tires on, and then move on to mediums or softs, and the thing that's noticed is this car's braking (which is already
competent) now gets even better. If you were braking at 75 meters, let's try for 50 now. Seriously. So braking gets better,
but so does the steering. And now that the car steers-in with even more accuracy, it also can potentially start
grabbing as the front-end's slip angles now become grip-angles. Overall, the S2000 becomes even
more helpful and fun, just as we experienced in earlier games.
Think of this car's "go" and "stop" pedals like
the Stock Market: as better parts are equipped, the gas pedal can be used more often, and the brake pedal less
often. It's like a set of stocks that rise and fall, as better tires (and then proper tuning) gets implemented. And
the entire car now transcends through turn after turn, creating perfect driving arcs and driving lines.
big difference from GT4 to GT5 is with tuning, especially the limited-slip. The stock one will probably need to be swapped
for aftermarket as power gets raised, otherwise the S2000s of this game start to get more and more fussy out of turns, requiring
odd moments of off-throttle and things like that. But tuning this car is easily accomplished.
for most drivers, the S2000 highly recommended. Easy to master and rewarding to gain.
acceleration for what seems at first to be an average-powered yet torqueless sports car.
2). 171 mph top speed at
the Test Track in GT2. Stock. GT4 is still acceptable at 160-ish mph. Real-life figures rate oddly below any of these numbers
at about 150.
3). High redline area. The VTEC system makes sure the car's engine uses it with vigor, too.
6-speed gearbox is user-friendly and totally flexible.
5). Awesome handling. Too many merits to type here. The S2000 does
what the driver wants with rare complaints.
6). Polyphony got this one looking decent. Even with GT2's crappy-crayon
graphics, the rag top can fool the eye. Is it real, or is it Sony?
7). Personally, I'm not a big fan of the Spoon (GT2),
but it is a worthwhile prize if you're into torturing yourself for B-license golds! The GT-1 and LM car are also stellar,
found respecively in GT2 and GT3. GT4 has a dizzying amount of S2000s, perhaps too many to choose from.
sounds realistic. Sounds fantastic, too.
9). None of the S2000s are too heavy. Even dealer-bought cars. Some
tuner versions are so light it seems criminal to race them. Racing kits available in GT2 for some models.
All three NA engine upgrades are available for basic S2000s bought from the dealership in GT2 or GT3. GT4 also has
turbos in addition to these 3 NA kits.
1). No turbo in any of the dealer-bought cars or even some tuners, not
even as an upgrade. GT4 is an exception here.
2). Despite all the variations of S2000, in many cases power is virtually
the same, especially with non-tuner models.
3). Some versions can only be won, and can cost up to $750,000 via trade
(depends on which game you've got), yet tires, turbo and other upgrades won't be included with this purchase.
Ultimate power isn't very high, even with the best NA or turbo upgrades.
5). Torqueless. Not much to give below 6,000
6). High-speed brake response is sometimes iffy; causing a bit of fishtailing and other issues.
front-ends (depends on model, though).
8). Unexperienced players will basically wanna avoid the super-car versions
of the S2000, which win races but take a bit of skill to drive correctly.
GT5: interior view includes a great center mirror, but a near-useless driver's mirror, unless the driver kinks his head slightly.
10). GT4 & 5: let's be honest...there really are too many models to choose from!
Click here for more Reviews
Published: April 23rd, 2005
Edited for GT4 content: February
Edited for GT5 content: June 29, 2014, and sometime during 2012 or 2013
by MSN TV