Honda S2000 -- Introduction

9/15/2000 4:17:37 PM

The latest version of VTEC, Honda's advanced variable valve-timing system, operates the S2000 engine's16 valves (4 per cylinder). This new system is more compact and tailored to the high-output, high-rpm operating characteristics of the S2000 engine.

A new 6-speed, close-ratio manual transmission has also been designed for the S2000. The transmission is a compact design and features a direct shift linkage with excellent feel and short throws. A Torsen limited-slip differential smoothly delivers power to the rear wheels, regardless of traction conditions.

The S2000 engine and transmission are capable of accelerating the S2000 from 0 -- 60 mph in less than six seconds.

Honda's racing expertise is also evident in the S2000's responsive handling. The chassis has an ideal 50/50 weight distribution, and the body and frame are a new-design hybrid monocoque/frame structure that forms a rigid, flex-free platform for the S2000's newly developed in-wheel double wishbone suspension system, and plays an important role in helping the S2000 achieve its high "world-class" safety protection. The power steering system is a newly developed, highly responsive, electrically assisted type.

The front 205/55 and rear 225/50 R-rated tires are mounted on 16-inch alloy wheels, and 11-inch brake discs (vented in front) provide excellent stopping power and brake feel. An anti-lock braking system is standard.

The exterior styling of the S2000's body is angular, modern and purposeful. Its long hood and flared front fenders create the impression of lowness and mass. The nose is aerodynamic and clean. High sides reinforce the cockpit-like feel of the interior.

The interior is modern, and obviously designed with the driver's needs in mind. The seats are contoured to provide additional lateral support during aggressive turns and help minimize fatigue. Outward visibility is unobstructed.

Controls, such as the steering, brakes and clutch, operate with a precise, direct feel. The aluminum shift knob and lever, race-car type digital instrument display and separate engine-start button serve to remind one of the high-performance nature of the powertrain.

The S2000 will be produced at Honda's new Takanezawa plant in Tochigi, Japan, where such cars as the Acura NSX and the Honda hybrid are built.

The S2000 is scheduled for a fall 1999 release as a year 2000 model.

Advanced Technologies Used in the S2000

  • Hybrid monocoque body and "high X-bone frame" has torsional and bending rigidity of closed-top vehicle, without excess weight
  • Highly compact, 2.0-liter, DOHC VTEC engine produces 240 hp and 153 lb.-ft. of torque (highest specific output of any normally aspirated production engine in the world)
  • Newly developed, compact DOHC VTEC variable valve-timing system
  • Coaxial, roller-bearing cam followers
  • Lightweight, powdered-metal, injection-molded, sintered steel-alloy cam followers
  • Electric Power Steering system (EPS)
  • Race-car-type digital instrument panel
  • High-efficiency, low-back pressure, metallic-honeycomb catalyst
  • In-wheel, 4-wheel double wishbone suspension system
  • Impact-absorbing body and frame designed to help protect the driver and passenger in full-frontal, offset-frontal, side and rear impacts
  • Newly developed 6-speed, close-ratio transmission
  • Forged-alloy pistons
  • Heat-treated, carburized forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods
  • Nut-less connecting rods
  • High-intensity discharge (HID) projector headlights
  • Torque-sensing limited-slip differential
  • Long-wearing FRM (Fiber-Reinforced Metal) cylinder liners
  • Compact "in-wheel" double wishbone suspension system
  • Engine meets Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards

The S2000 has an impressive list of standard comfort and convenience features, designed to make driving more pleasant and enjoyable, including high-intensity discharge (HID) projector headlights, a power-operated convertible top that opens and closes in approximately six seconds, air conditioning, micron air fil-tration, cruise control, an AM/FM stereo with CD player, remote-operated audio controls, power door locks, power windows, power mirrors, Immobilizer Theft-Deterrent System and keyless entry for both doors and the trunk.

The S2000 is designed to comply with various worldwide safety standards and boasts an extensive list of safety features, including 3-point seat belts with load limiter and pretensioner, a new, compact SRS system for the driver and passenger, side-impact protection, roll bars and reinforced windshield posts, head-injury protection and a body and frame especially designed to help absorb the energy of full-frontal, offset-frontal and rear impacts. Even the hood hinges and windshield-wiper pivots are designed to collapse in order to minimize head injury to pedestrians. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard.

In order to give the S2000 an ideal 50/50 weight distribution and a low yaw moment, Honda engineers designed the S2000's 240-hp, 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine to be as small and as lightweight as possible. The engine's aluminum-alloy cylinder head is a highly efficient design and features a compact gear- and chain-drive system for the dual overhead camshafts. The ancillary drive system for the alternator, water pump and air-conditioning compressor is also a new space-efficient type.

The S2000 engine's highly rigid, aluminum-alloy cylinder block features Honda's long-wearing FRM (Fiber-Reinforced Metal) cylinder liners. The light-weight pistons are made of forged aluminum alloy (the first use of this material in a Honda production automobile engine), and the forged-steel connecting rods and crankshaft are heat-treated for added toughness. Numerous friction-reduction techniques, such as roller-bearing cam followers, special pistons and advanced bearing materials, are used in the engine.

An all-new, compact version of VTEC, Honda's variable valve timing system, is used on the S2000 engine. VTEC optimizes torque output over the engine's entire operating range, improving both driveability and performance. The S2000's VTEC system is specifically designed for high-performance, high-rpm operation and uses compact, high-strength, low-friction, roller-bearing cam followers.

A large-capacity, low-restriction intake system and low back-pressure exhaust system help ensure free breathing at all engine speeds. The exhaust system uses a high-efficiency metal-honeycomb catalyst. The new catalyst, combined with the engine's electric pump-fed, secondary air-injection system, a direct-ignition system and Honda-programmed multi-point fuel injection, contributes to the S2000's engine achieving its LEV status.

The S2000 uses an all-new, longitudinally mounted, 6-speed manual transmission, which is built for high performance. Its close-ratio gearing ensures strong performance in every gear, and the shift linkage is very direct, with short, precise throws. Double- and triple-cone synchronizers reduce shift effort, and a separate lubrication pump adds to transmission durability

Other high-performance features of the S2000 drivetrain include a compact pull-type clutch, a lightened flywheel, a highly rigid, one-piece propeller shaft and rigid axle shafts -- all designed to reduce drivetrain flex to an absolute minimum. The Torsen limited-slip differential is a highly efficient torque-sensing, clutchless type that smoothly transfers torque to the wheel with the most traction, whether cornering or accelerating in a straight line.

The S2000's 4-wheel double wishbone suspension system is a new compact in-wheel design, similar to the type used on racing cars. At each wheel, rigid upper and lower A-shaped wishbone links carry suspension loads directly to rigid subframes, attached directly to the monocoque body.

The suspension geometry has been carefully tuned for optimum road-holding and steering feel, and coil springs and mono-tube, gas-pressurized shock absorbers (remote reservoir, in the rear) are used at each wheel. Front and rear stabilizers (1.11-inch front/1.07-inch rear) help keep body roll to a minimum.

Body rigidity is crucial to good handling in an open-topped roadster, so Honda engineers designed a highly rigid monocoque body for the S2000. The heart of the system is a large central tunnel that runs down the center of the cockpit. This tunnel serves as the backbone and main load-bearing structure for the vehicle, as well as a housing for the transmission and driveshaft.

The body's high side sills, and innovative diagonal (X) bracing at the front and rear of the cockpit, provide additional rigidity. Suspension and drive loads from the wheels are fed directly into this structure via highly rigid subframes at the front and rear of the vehicle.

In place of a conventional hydraulic system, with its hoses, fluid and power drain, the S2000 uses an electrically assisted power steering system. At low speeds, more power-steering assist is provided, which eases maneuvering and parking. As vehicle speed increases, less power assist is supplied, giving the steering a more direct feel. The steering ratio is a quick 13.8 to 1.

When Honda designers and engineers began work on the S2000, they set several overall design goals for it that would ultimately define its nature. They wanted it to have race-car-like performance and handling-- something an enthusiast driver could use and enjoy, even in everyday driving situations. In addition, they wanted the S2000 to be a modern, socially responsible automobile, with low emissions and a full range of safety features.

The S2000 is based on the Honda SSM concept car that first appeared at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, with follow-up appearances at the Chicago and German shows, where it was enthusiastically received. The S2000 uses the same basic front-engine/rear-wheel-drive, 2-seat roadster layout as the SSM. This classic drivetrain configuration is highly regarded for its performance and enjoyable driving characteristics.

The S2000's roadster layout also captures the spirit of the legendary high-performance sports cars of the past, as well as Honda's very first sports car, the S500 roadster. However, the S2000 makes no attempt to be a retro sports car. It is Honda's own unique interpretation of a modern sports car-- with high performance, state-of-the-art technology, comfort, style and Honda durability.

After initial design studies for the S2000 were completed, several prototype S2000s were constructed. Honda engineers then took these prototypes to Europe, where more than 20,000 miles of testing were conducted in order to "mature" the design. During the maturing phase of the design, the S2000's handling, ride, aerodynamics and performance were refined, as well as styling. Cockpit details, such as seating, visibility and control layout were also finalized during this phase of development.

The S2000 is also intended to be a celebration of several important aspects of the Honda Motor Company's corporate identity and spirit. One aspect of that spirit can be found in the company's history of building sporting automobiles. From the first S500 to the current Prelude and Civic Si, Honda has always offered a dedicated performance car, and ultimately a dedicated, high-performance sports car-- the NSX. The NSX's exotic nature puts it beyond the reach of most enthusiasts; the S2000 is intended to be a more affordable, high-performance sports car.

Another aspect of the Honda spirit celebrated in the S2000 is the company's motor sports heritage. Honda started racing motorcycles internationally in the 1950s, and entered Formula 1 car racing in the 1960s. Today, Honda still participates in the most competitive and prestigious levels of motor sports, including Grand Prix motorcycle racing and Championship Auto Racing, and is scheduled to return to Formula 1 in 2000. The S2000 incorporates many of the engineering lessons learned in four decades of racing.

The S2000 also represents the Honda spirit of innovation. From the first CVCC engine to 4-wheel steering, VTEC variable valve timing, and up to the current ULEV and ZLEV automobiles and engines, Honda products have always demonstrated the company's uniquely creative approach to solving engineering challenges. The S2000 is no different. It is a showcase of Honda technologies and advanced engineering techniques applied in a cost-effective manner.

Finally, like all Hondas, the S2000's character reflects Honda's commitment to building vehicles appropriate for modern society, so the S2000 meets modern environmental and safety requirements.

The following is a list of the standard features found on the S2000 roadster:

Engineering Features

  • 240-hp, 2.0-liter, 16-valve, DOHC VTEC engine
  • Multi-Point Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)
  • Direct ignition system
  • Low-back pressure exhaust system with high-efficiency catalyst
  • Low-Emission Vehicle-rated (LEV)
  • 6-speed, close-ratio, manual transmission
  • Torque-sensing limited-slip differential
  • Power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
  • High-rigidity "high X-bone frame"
  • In-wheel double wishbone suspension with gas-filled shock absorbers and front and rear stabilizer bars
  • Electric Power Steering system (EPS)
  • Variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering
  • 16-inch alloy wheels (6.5-inch-wide front/7.5-inch-wide rear)
  • 205/55 R16 89W front tires
  • 215/50 R16 92W rear tires2

Exterior Features

  • Electrically powered soft top
  • High-intensity discharge (HID) projector headlights
  • Body-colored dual power mirrors
  • Dual-outlet exhaust
  • 5-mph, impact-absorbing body-colored bumpers

Interior Features

  • Dual airbags (SRS)
  • Air conditioning
  • Micron air-filtration system
  • AM/FM stereo with CD player
  • Remote-operated audio controls
  • Power windows
  • Power door locks
  • Cruise control
  • Digital instrument panel
  • Leather-trimmed seats
  • Center console storage compartments with lock
  • Beverage holder
  • 3-point seat belts with pretensioner and load limiter
  • Engine start button
  • Immobilizer Theft-Deterrent System
  • Keyless entry system for doors and trunk

Exterior and Interior Colors

  • Grand Prix White/Red
  • New Formula Red/Black
  • Silverstone Metallic/Red with Black
  • Berlina Black/Red with Black