An S2000 Affair is Forever – Part 2 (The Great AP2 v. AP1 Debate)

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Click here for Part One. Click through for Part Two in which jeallen compares his AP1 and AP2 and describes why he seems to prefer driving one more than the other and more.

Driving Comparison:

In comparison, I found that the wider wheels, tires, and suspension changes on the AP2 really paid off as the car hugged the road better than the AP1. The motor has more torque, and the throttle note of the larger displacement engine is a bit deeper. Noise levels seem a bit lower overall and the lower revving motor means that the noise occurs at a lower range of the audio frequency. Changes in steering ratio, drive by wire, and clutch delay are virtually imperceptible in daily driving.

Autocross Experience with the AP2:

I only got one race in at the end of the 2010 season with the AP2, but turned in top times with stock suspension, alignment, and Bridgestone RE050 tires (in fairness my AP2 nemesis was absent). My times were closer to the top performers at the track. The torque of the 2.2 liter engine provided a bit more latitude in shift points which allowed better acceleration out of the turns and, importantly for the course that day, allowed for earlier entry into third gear.

Entering the next autocross season, I won four straight events and found my times more in line with the faster people on the track than in previous years. The tail happiness I experienced in the AP1 seems completely gone in the AP2.

While I stayed with the stock shocks initially, I have moved the Penske shocks over from my AP1. I also installed the 0.25” thickness Gendron bar briefly, but felt the car handled better with the stock bar. I am still using the stock alignment, but plan to align for autocross and I may yet try lighter 0.188” Gendron. My nemesis in the 2004 S2000 has regained first place in the most recent events, so I need to up my game!

Personal Preference:
Initially I drove the AP2 daily with only an occasional switch back to the AP1. However, after the novelty wore off, I found I was switching back to driving my AP1 more and more.

Yes, the AP2 is faster, but I feel more engaged when I drive the AP1. I have tried to analyze why this is and noticed that I tend to shift more often with the AP1, keeping the motor humming above 3,500 RPMs. I love the sound of the 2.0 liter engine revving and the rush of acceleration when the VTEC kicks in. The AP2, I just drive.

Care and Upkeep:

I am a nut about servicing things regularly and recommend that, even if you’re not racing, the clutch and brake fluids be changed for synthetic. The stock clutch fluid seems to get nasty really quick. I suspect it’s just getting too hot. We’ve had several S2000 club days here at my house and everyone I have changed has had globs of gunk in it. The synthetic stuff seems to stay clean indefinitely.

Even with three seasons of autocross on the AP1 and 85,000 miles, it still has the stock brake pads and clutch. I have changed the brakes out to Hawk HP+ on the AP2. They are dusty, but they bring the S2000 to a halt more quickly, especially when hot.

I noticed that the convertible top on my AP1 fastens tighter than the AP2 and I attribute this to not engaging the latches when I park. I use 303 Aerospace Protectant to keep the top fresh and it seems to work well. I put the top up every time I get out to keep the sun off the upholstery. I have replaced the elastic straps on the underside of the roof on both cars.

I have installed speakers in the panels behind the seats on both cars. The space is limited, but you can hear the radio better on the freeway with the top down with this setup. On the AP2, I used component speakers and configured the crossover to drive the only the outermost roll hoop speaker as a tweeter. When combined with the speakers behind the seats, this helps both with volume levels channel separation.

There is a cavity just ahead of the rear wheels that transmits a lot of road and exhaust noise to the driver’s compartment. I have found that spraying body-undercoating in that area seems to really knock down this noise.

We Are a Happy Honda Family:

My wife also became a Honda convert, upon driving the ’95 Accord and marveled at how it felt and drove with 150,000 miles. My wife now drives a CRV, my daughter a Civic Hybrid, and one of my son’s drives an older CRV. We would still be driving that original Accord that got all this started, but sadly it got a little bent. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Toyotas anytime soon – my S2000’s won’t let me off the hook.


Images courtesy of jeallen

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