Honda faithful and S200 enthusiasts the world over are excited to hear that Honda’s boss, Takahiro Hachigo, is still open to the possibility of a Honda S2000 successor. According to Autocar UK on their report from the Tokyo Motor Show earlier this week (Oct. 25, 2017) Hachigo stated that “If the salespeople investigate, look at it and they’re really enthusiastic, maybe we look at it (a Honda S2000 successor.) The Honda S2000 was produced in commemoration of Honda’s 50th birthday as a car company. Originally, only meant to be produced for two years, it sold so well, that they continued to sell the S2000 for eight more years. If Honda brings back the S2000, not only will it have to live up to its predecessor, it also must align with Honda’s current plans for cars in the long run as well as make solid business sense.
Before Hachigo stated that he’s looking for a green light from his bean counters, he did mention that right now is not the time for the S2000.
“All over the world – in Japan, North America, Europe, China – more and more voices are expressing the desire to reinvent S2000. However, it has not matured yet. It’s not time yet. We need time to decide if S2000 is reinvented or not.
On paper, Honda does not need to make the S2000. It’s a niche car which will make up a small percentage of its total sales. On it’s best year, it’s launch year, Honda sold 9,684 units. Every year since 2002 that number steadily dropped till 2009 when only 2,538 units were pushed out dealership lots. The Honda S2000 is a laser-focused car that does not make compromises to its driver. It never came in automatic only coming in a six-speed manual, there were no optional engines, and its track-focused engine characteristics meant you had to drive it hard to get the most out of it. It was this lack of compromise, some argue, that ultimately killed the S2000 against its more compromising competitors like the Miata, 350Z, and Boxster.
Honda stated by 2030, 2/3’s of its lineup would have some sort of hybrid powertrain. In addition, Honda’s introduction of a sporty EV concept, commitment to the Acura NSX as the pinnacle of its sporting pedigree and a switch to smaller, turbocharged engines for its Civic family points to a greener future for all its power plants. A big part of the S2000’s DNA was its high-revving F-series engine developed especially for the S2000. The F22C made all of its horsepower at 7,800 RPM. If Honda reinvents the S2000 to align with the rest of its engines they may take a page, like the first S2000, from its racing engines and make it a turbo. This may alienate future buyers.
And finally, it must make business sense. The greater media loved the S2000. It was continuously a Porsche Boxster slayer, especially when it undercut the Boxster’s MSRP by thousands. But while the S2000 died because of lack of sales, its competitors soldiered on. The current Miata is still the loveable, tossable car it ever was, and at a bargain too for just $24,915. The Boxster has grown leaps and bounds since 2009. Although its price has grown to $52,100 to match with inflation and demand, it now sports a very potent flat-4 turbo with 361 HP and 317 lb-ft. Honda will have to engineer a roadster that honors the S2000 as it was but really make it a fair fight against its competitors.
2019 will mark 20 years since the Honda S2000 was introduced. If Honda wants to build an S2000, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they made an announcement around that time. By then, hybrid technology will have, once again, grown exponentially and we’ll have a clearer picture of where interest lies with a new S2000.