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Ok, here is my S2000 story. 

Fast forward to some years later ... the production version of SSM concept became the highly anticipated S2000.

I have been paying much attention to the S2000 ever since it first came out in late 1999/early 2000. It's a 2 seats roadster, with a small displacement, high-rev-loving engine, good performance numbers with a price tag that's within reach. I had a chance to test drive a 2001 silverstone S2000 in Jan 2001. One test drive got me hooked to that top down VTEC feeling. That short test drive (most of the shifts were made at around 9000rpm, not to mention I probably scared the crap out of the sales person) left a smile on my face for a very long time. 

Fast forward again for almost 1.5 years later, in Jun 2001, I happened to come across an idea of ... "I think I need a new toy, a big one ..." A new car seems to have occupied most of my thoughts at that time. I haven't forgotten about the S2000 test drive about 1.5 years ago ... that top down VTEC feeling. Anyway, as I was doing my reach for a new car/toy, the Honda S2000 was on the top of my list, as well as Mazda Miata and Toyota MR2 Spider. Here are some of my commend on them:

(trim level with options)
Good & bad
Mazda Miata
(2001 BRG special edition with ABS,  suspension package, appearance package, hardtop)

  • Price. (I think I could get it at around invoice for a 2001 model since it's the end of year.)
  • I like the styling. (Some people commend on it as being a chick car. But the British Racing Green, hence BRG, looks very classy to me. Also, I guess those people would probably change their mind after they got smoked by a super charged or turbo Miata ...)
  • Fun to drive.
  • Excellent handling. (Due to the good front and rear weight balance, something like 50/50?!)
  • Light weight & small. (Contributes partly to excellent handling.)
  • Hardtop is affordable and turns the Miata into a good looking coupe.
  • Well established owner and enthusiast community. (http://www.miata.net, good place to look for help.)
  • Plenty of aftermarket parts for upgrades. (Since M1 and M2 shares a great deal parts and the Miata has been around for more than 12 years and still growing, there is no worry about lack of aftermarket parts.)
  • All 4 tires are the same! (I can rotate the tires, which I can't do on the S2000!)


  • Small cockpit. (I can sit in the driver's seat but driving position comfort left  to be desired. Deciding factor that I CAN'T get the Miata simply cause I CAN'T drive comfortably.)
  • Build quality. (Owners discover quite a number of bug for all year models, some even left un-fixed for some time! e.g. #4 cylinder bearing on '99 and clutch problem that bugs '00, '01 and some '02 owners!)
  • Have to install aftermarket roll bar for roll over protection. (It's a must to me, the A pillar is not stronger enough for any kind of protection. You never know, that's why they called it accident.)
  • Wish for more power. (Engine mod or super charger can fix this. )
  • Too light weight. (No match with monster SUV or the alike that are everywhere on the freeway, in case of any more-than-comfort close encounter, defensive driving is a must.)
  • I would be buying a 1-year-old new car. (Considering I am buying a '01 model at the end of 2001/beginning of 2002 even though it's a new car on the lot.)
Toyota MR2 Spider
(with 5-speed SMT)

  • Mid engine. (More rear weight bias, lighter front end, quicker steering response.)
  • Light weight! (Due to it's mid engine design, it's more than 100lb lighter than Miata.)
  • Even better performance number and handling than M2 Miata! (so I heard ...)
  • Should be a blast to drive.
  • Styling is not that bad. (I can live with it, but some people hate it.)
  • Plenty of room for driver and passenger. (Due to the long wheelbase mid engine design. I don't have the numbers but I read them somewhere.)
  • SMT available. (Clutch-less manual!)


  • Literally no trunk space. (Can't even get a little practical out of the impractical! deciding factor that I WON'T get the MR2 Spider.)
  • Have to install aftermarket roll bar for roll over protection. (Again, it's a must to me for a roadster.)
  • Front and rear tire size are different. (No rotating front and rear tires. Not a big deal. )
  • No OEM hardtop available here in the US. (Not too big of a problem either. Roadster are meant to be driven top down anyway!)
  • No factory LSD available. (At time of writing, but I guess there must be aftermarket LSD available.)
Honda S2000
(no factory option)

  • Mid engine. (That's right! The engine is behind the front axle. So, it's a front mid engine design. Good weight distribution. Very close to 50/50.)
  • Excellent  horsepower from a 2.0L Inline 4 engine (F20C). (120hp/liter for US domestic model, that's 240hp@8300rpm. JDM model got 125hp/liter that's good for 250hp@8300rpm due to higher compression ratio. Highest hp/liter among production vehicle in the world!)
  • Styling. (I like this one the best among the 3. Clean lines that looks aggressive enough.)
  • Relatively comfortable occupant compartment. (Has enough room for me to fit in.)
  • Really good performance/money ratio! (Miata/MR2 wins on handling/money ratio?)
  • Digital gauges and big red Start button!
  • Power operated soft top. (I didn't mind the manual operated soft top on the other 2 cars, but the power top on S2000 weights only 10lb extra and it's  a lot more convenient.) 
  • One of the best HID head lights in the market and they come standard.
  • Built-in safety roll bar. (Though I would like to have a roll bar that actually goes higher than the driver's head ...) 
  • Fast developing enthusiast and owner community. (http://www.s2ki.com)


  • The lack of low end torque. And they are peaky at 153lb-ft@7500rpm. Not too low for normal driving but it's a bit low compare to other competitor, Porsche Boxster S, BMW M roadster and Audi TT roadster. The engine make it up by being rev loving.
  • Price. (It's an extremely good deal comparing to what people are paying for Boxster S and M roadster at about the same performance. But for the sake of comparison here at my choices, S2000 cost almost 30% more than either Miata or MR2 Spider.)
  • Can't rotate the tires at all! (The tires are front and rear size specific and directional. So I can't rotate the tires at all. From what I heard, the OEM RE-02 tires can only last about 10k miles ...)
  • The hardtop is a bit expensive. (The S2000 hardtop cost more than twice the one for Miata and it's not too much bigger. Both of them comes with rear defroster. Get this, Honda is selling the S2000 hardtop holder/stand for more than $500~! Com'on, it's only a metal stand that holds the hardtop!)
  • Heaviest of the bunch. (S2000 is by no means heavy at all at ~2800lb, but the other 2 roadster here are about 500~600lb lighter! But due to the high hp rating of the F20C engine in S2000, it still has a the best weight to power ratio of the bunch, hence the better performance.)
  • Extreme rim offset. (Only matters if I get aftermarket rims. Due to the in-wheel suspension design, the offset of the rims are pretty high. Not all manufacturer makes rim or rim style that will fit S2000.)
I didn't really look at the roadsters offer by Porsche, Benz, BMW and Audi. And here's why:

  • Cost of the vehicle. (Everything is optional on European cars! And they add up quick! Most likely I would have to pay 30%~50% more than the 3 Japan-made counterparts above! It's almost the deciding factor that I can't/won't get European roadster ... at least not for now, heh~ Hey, why pay more when I can get more performance from Honda and still pay less! ;-)

  • Cost of ownership (All of them come with warranty. But it's the maintenance after the warranty that counts! Even oil change at the those dealer cost more!)
  • Their targeted owner seems to be of a more mature group (If you see a guy, in his mid 20s, driving a Boxster, you might think he is driving his Dad's car or something ... )

I had a difficult time trying to decide what color to get. There are 6 exterior color and 3 interior color being offered in the US market in MY2002. Here is a what I think about them:

Interior Color Commend
Red  Red! Everything is red! Too red! The red dash is so bright that you can see the reflection of it bouncing off the wind shield! 
Blue  Nice color. Not too bright, dark enough to not blind you under the sun but still add some color to the compartment. Too bad it's only offered with the Suzuka Blue exterior color.
Black  Very traditional and very conservative color. You basically can't go wrong with it. Easy to keep it nice and clean. I got this interior color by default. 

Exterior Color Commend
Grand Prix White  I really like this white color. But the sad news is that it only comes with red interior ... and for some reason, I don't really like the black soft top on a white roadster ... A tan top with tan interior would be really nice. 
Black  The black looks really sexy (not sexy sexy, but sexy, heh) ... as long as you keep it super clean all the times. 
Formula Red  Sports car always look good in red, no doubt about it. But I also concern about the red color being the color of cop-magnet. Not you wouldn't get caught speeding or something with other color. But red seems to be the most attractive one to cops ... 
Spa Yellow  The Yellow is very eye catching. It stands out of crowd a lot and at the same time looks good in it. In fact, it catches too much attention to my liking. (I want attention, but not too much attention. heh~) It looks very nice but just not my cup of tea. 
Suzuka Blue  New color for MY2002. A very nice, light, easy going blue. A very good combination of of Suzuka Blue exterior and blue interior. But to me, it's just ... a little ... not too man-ly.
Sebring Silver  Sebring Silver is also new for MY2002. It replaces Silverstone Silver. I like the Sebring Silver a little better. It's lighter in color. Maybe that's explain why I like the Grand Prix White. It's very easy to the eye. And light Silver is suppose to show the line of the car very nicely (correct me if I'm wrong). This is also the easiest color to keep clean. (i.e. it will look relatively clean even if you don't wash your car very often, heh~). 

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