Autocar reports workers form the Japanese car maker’s advanced engineering department recently attended an S2000 owners’ meet in the British Isles to talk with enthusiasts about the car to inform their decisions in terms of positioning the mooted new model and how the company can best reconnect with its fan base.
Two generations of the Honda S2000 were built between 1999 and 2009. Both won praise for their impressive drivetrains and fun-to-drive dynamics, and earned a strong following in major markets around the world.
The rumoured third-generation S2000 would rival the recently released Mazda MX-5 and the forthcoming Fiat/Abarth 124 Spider in the entry-level roadster market, retaining its traditional front-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout.
There are at least two sources of propulsion for the new S2000. The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from the Civic Type R would be an obvious fit, though even an S2000 Type R variant would likely require a detune from the hot-hatch’s 231kW/400Nm outputs.
Entry-level S2000s could get a tune of the new 1.5-litre turbo that’s headed for next year’s new Civic hatch. Even that engine would likely boast a power and torque advantage over Mazda’s top-performing MX-5 2.0-litre (118kW/200Nm).
The S2000 would come standard with one of Honda’s brilliant six-speed manual transmissions. It’s unclear if an automatic version would be offered as an option, though a self-shifter would undoubtedly boost sales, particularly in auto-loving markets like Australia.
The biggest question mark remains over what platform Honda could build the new roadster on. The underpinnings of the S660 kei car are understood to be unsuitable to adapt for a larger, more powerful S2000, and with no other compact rear-drive models in its global portfolio, the new model would likely require a unique chassis.
As such, the car’s price would likely be higher than its Mazda and Fiat rivals to help Honda recoup costs, though still a long way south of the old S2000’s $70,000-plus price tag.
There’s no indication when a successor to the S2000 could emerge, though it would be unlikely to surface before very late this decade. Certainly a 2019 launch, to mark 20 years since the introduction of the original S2000, would appeal to Honda enthusiasts.