Honda announces the S2000 for 2010

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OK, I know that caught your eye, possibly even startled you or caused you to spit your coffee all over your keyboard. NO, Honda is not launching the S2000 in 2010.

But, I want you to imagine this scenario – what if Honda launched the S2000 this year? I’m not talking about the CR or the ahem! clearly superior AP2, nor am I speaking of some kind of AP3. I have in mind the simple, uncluttered, pure-hearted AP1 roadster with its 9,000 rpm rev limit, plastic rear window, 16″ wheels, single floor-mat peg etc. How would it be received by the press and the driving public and how would Honda market it?

I have no doubt that Honda would be running a social media blitz trying to promote the car. They would refer to their racing heritage, about Soichiro Honda and his determination to see his car win a Formula One race. A feat that would be accomplished by the RA272 and the American driver, Richie Ginther. I doubt there would be any mention of Honda’s more recent sudden exit from Formula One. There would be e-mail and promotions galore. Facebook would be a major media outlet and I’m sure the S2000 would have no problem getting to 500 million friends almost as fast as Facebook. The S2000 would also have its own micro website where you’d find updates from the people working on the project as well as play the S2000 game. I’m pretty sure it would also make it into GT 5 and have several gamers excited about its potential. Elsewhere, the S2000 would be on display at all the IRL races and forums would be abuzz at this new roadster from Honda of all companies. Somewhere cthree, Hondagal and Krazik would come together and hatch a plan to start a forum to be called S2000 International or S2KI as we know it.

Sam Mitani of Road & Track would be gushing praises about the car having flown to Japan to drive both the factory and the Spoon Sports version. Blogs like AutoBlog and Jalopnik, which were not around 10 years ago would be abuzz with spy pictures and sightings of the car. There would be videos as well of the car being tested at the Nurburgring in camouflage. High expectations would surround the launch of the car and it would be heralded as the next halo car after the NSX. Shigeru Uehara and Tadashi Kume would be the main men at Honda driving the development of this new car, and it would be their parting gift to the driving public before they retired.

Now imagine that Nissan has launched the 370Z with synchro-rev-match or heel-and-toe for dummies and BMW has launched the new Z4 Alpha-numeric soup – Z4sDrive35Si or whatever. The blogosphere and forums are abuzz with the wonders of the aforementioned cars. Camps have formed and fanboys have pledged their allegiance. The Miata has acquired a pleasing convertible hard top and Mazda has plans to re-design it and make it lighter.

Into this charged atmosphere comes a roadster that is simple and uncomplicated with of all things a 2.0 liter engine and a low curb weight. I’m sure the car would be the object of criticism as well. Honda would be on the receiving end for building a car with features that would have made sense in the mid to late nineties. The 16 inch wheels would be panned regardless of the fact that they offer sufficient grip and handling for most drivers. The less said of the plastic rear window, the better. In fact I’m sure there’d be people complaining about the travesty of building a roadster that lacks current features like traction control, paddle shifters, and a single cup holder. Some may even go as far as unkindly calling it a me-too Miata.

I still think the AP1 would survive and achieve Honda’s sales target. It would be the only true modern roadster reminiscent of the old British roadsters. It would have the edge, temperament and attitude of the old British cars along with the reliability that we’ve come to expect of Honda. It would be an every day Lotus Elise that most people could drive on a cross country trip or to work everyday and then some. It would deliver you in style to work or accompany you on an evening date, and the very next day be ready to pound out a few hot laps at a track day.

Consider this, among the current lot of cars out there, the S2000 is the only roadster (some would say the Miata too) that delivers the visceral feeling of a hard driving sports car. You brake too late into a corner and it will reward you at the very least with a rear end that will slide out and challenge your counter steering abilities to the fullest. It is basically the only car out there that seems to extol the value that if you do things wrong, then you must be prepared to accept the consequences.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that the S2000 was built with clearly defined objectives and goals in the year 1999. It became popular and was a decent sales success only because Honda never offered watered-down versions of the car – in other words the car did not try to be too many things for too many people.

With that said, how I wish that Honda had such clear objectives when designing the new CR-Z. Unlike the S2000 the CR-Z has at best acquired a lukewarm response or the “I can’t figure it out, but it’s fun” reaction.

In melding sportiness and hybrid economy, Honda appears to have compromised both. So while the CR-Z may be a good car just by itself, how I wish that they had built it the way they did the S2000 all those years ago or for that matter, the way they built the CRX-Si.

-A2

Images courtesy of dlq04 and Triple-H

NOTE: S2KI welcomes the opinions of its members on the S2000 and on all topics related to the S. Should you feel the creative urge to pen a few words then by all means do so and PM Energetic, Aashish2 or Onehots2k OR send us links to what you would like us to write about and we will feature you (or your community) on the S2KI Home Page.

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