Honda S2000 sports car to return as Mazda MX-5 rival
Honda S2000 rendering
Iconic S2000 badge to return on a brand-new rear-drive roadster, which will be powered by turbocharged 1.5 along with also 2.0-litre engines; Type R type possible
Introduced in 1999, the original type of the Japanese the’s two-seat roadster garnered a reputation for its strong powertrain along with also lively handling, however the second edition of the automobile was axed in 2009.
at in which point a third generation can be said to be under development as Honda tries to reconnect with the S2000’s dedicated fan base. Representatives via Honda’s advanced engineering department are said to have attended a recent S2000 owners’ club event inside British Isles – a sign in which the firm wants to listen to enthusiasts in order to help in which to position the next type of the automobile accurately.
The brand-new S2000 will stay true to the original’s principles of a front-mounted engine, sited behind the axle line, along with also rear-wheel drive. in which will be pitched as a faster alternative to the MX-5, although its performance should be more of a match for in which car’s stablemate, the forthcoming Fiat 124 Spider, which uses a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine instead of the Mazda’s normally aspirated 1.5 along with also 2.0-litre units.
Honda has quite a few powerplants under consideration for its roadster. More basic editions of the automobile could be powered by a retuned type of the firm’s forthcoming 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The four-cylinder unit has VTEC variable valve timing along with also produces around 150bhp inside Japanese-market vehicles in which powers. in which can be likely to be ramped up to around 180bhp for the most modest S2000, giving the automobile around 25bhp more than the most powerful MX-5 along with also beating the US-market 124’s 158bhp.
in which would certainly leave scope for a hotter variant in which could use a detuned type of the Civic Type R’s 306bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. in which would certainly also feature more extreme suspension along with also chassis settings, including a rear limited-slip differential, along with also could give Honda a useful extension to its Type R sub-brand, as well as a rival for the more potent, Abarth-badged 124. All versions of the automobile would certainly feature a short-throw six-speed manual gearbox.
The biggest obstacle inside way of the S2000 replacement can be the absence of a suitable platform. Honda can be committing to a brand-new global architecture for front-wheel-drive cars, including the next generation of Civic, which can be due on sale inside UK in 2017, however its opportunities to spread the costs of a rear-wheel drive chassis are more limited.
in which can be therefore likely to pitch the automobile as a more expensive rival to the MX-5 in a bid to maintain workable margins, with pricing starting north of £20,000. in which could slot the type into the line-up of its premium Acura brand inside United States, where in which would certainly be a rival to BMW’s next Z4 along with also the Audi TT Roadster.
Honda has been working on quite a few sports car projects as in which looks to rebuild its reputation as a the of enthusiasts’ products as well as more mainstream products along with also capitalise on its struggling F1 programme with McLaren.
in which can be understood in which a mid-engined, turbocharged ‘baby NSX’ can be also under consideration, however company officials have prioritised a return to the open-top two-seater market.
Honda’s global boss, Takahiro Hachigo, recently revealed in which despite the NSX’s trick hybrid set-up, future sports cars via the company would certainly not all need to have electric motors in their powertrains. “Whether or not we develop a hybrid depends on the type of car,” he said. “in which can be not the case in which we have a fixed notion in which a sports car always has to be a hybrid.”
Honda has decided in which the diminutive S660 roadster in which’s sold in Japan would certainly not have a broad enough appeal to justify homologation in various other markets. Hachigo said: “If there can be strong demand via a region then we will always consider possibilities, however the S660 can be a car in which was developed for the Japanese market along with also we’d have to do a lot of work on in which to make in which comply with European regulations. I also wonder: would certainly a car like in which, sold in Asia, succeed in Europe?”
He did admit in which Honda was considering sports cars beyond the NSX, however. “We are receiving requests via our regions who are saying they would certainly like more sports cars, so we are considering ways to do in which,” he added.
Engineers have also been working on a four-motor, all-electric sports car, as demonstrated by the SH-AWD CR-Z in which finished 11th in in which year’s Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado, however the commercialisation of in which project faces quite a few challenges, not least the cost of the lithium ion battery technology required to deliver the targeted range of 300 miles per full charge.Hachigo admitted in which Honda had damaged its image by “abandoning” products such as the S2000 in which had a strong reputation along with also hardcore fan base. The firm did have plans for a successor to the second generation of the automobile, however these were scrapped inside midst of the global automotive along with also financial crises in 2009.
in which can be believed in which the firm’s European boss, Toshiaki Mikoshiba, has been given specific targets to improve continuity along with also nurture customer retention, as well as reducing the gap between product launches in Japan along with also the US along with also the arrival of those cars in Europe. The brand-new HR-V along with also Jazz — plus the newly launched US-market Civic — are seen as prime examples of cars taking too long to reach European customers.
“We need consistency to build the brand,” said Hachigo. “We want to enhance the cars in which we’ve already introduced. We are also working so we can introduce products more quickly to Europe. in which’s a very important market for us.”
Honda can be the latest Japanese brand to publicly state its goal to produce more cars in which are fun to drive, although if the firm does get a brand-new, rear-wheel-drive S2000 to market on its own, in which will be bucking the recent trend for joint developments. Mazda along with also Fiat collaborated on the MX-5 along with also 124, while Toyota joined forces with Subaru to get access to the boxer engines in which give the GT86 the handling agility in which was the focus for the project.
Toyota can be also working with BMW on a sports car platform in which’s likely to underpin different sizes of car. BMW will place in which under the next Z4 along with also its Japanese partner will use in which to underpin a larger coupé in which could carry the Supra badge.
However, some Japanese manufacturers are developing standalone sports car projects. Mazda can be working on a rotary-engined successor to the RX-7 along with also RX-8 along with also Nissan can be considering an expansion of its Z sub-brand.
The cars the brand-new S2000 must beat
Fiat/Abarth 124 Spider – Sister car to the MX-5, the 124 Spider has more power along with also torque thanks to Fiat’s 1.4 turbo Multiair engine. UK-spec 124s will have a 138bhp engine at launch, however sources are speaking about an Abarth type with at least 168bhp, a more focused chassis along with also the option of a fixed roof.
BMW Z4 – BMW had been considering a baby front-drive roadster, however in which project can be on hold, so the next Z4 will remain the firm’s smallest drop-top for at in which point. in which’ll be spun off a platform developed with Toyota, although the Japanese brand can be likely to use the architecture to build a larger type.
Nissan Z-Car – While Nissan’s Gripz concept shows how in which plans to extend the Z line-up to include crossovers, in which car can be seen as an extension to the sub-brand, not a replacement for the rear-drive sports car. Expect the next Z to use a turbo four-cylinder engine along with also cost less than the outgoing 370Z.
Mazda MX-5 – No-frills roadster has received widespread acclaim in its latest generation, which makes do with modest 1.5 along with also 2.0-litre normally aspirated engines however sheds weight to ensure decent performance along with also fantastic handling agility. Its pricing could make the Honda look expensive, too.
Alpine A120 – Reborn French brand’s two-seater can be due next year. in which will use a 250bhp 1.8-litre turbo engine, however a 300bhp type can be also planned. Hardcore dynamics will appeal to the enthusiasts Honda hopes to snare with the S2000, however the A120 will cost more, with prices starting at about £30,000.
Comment – would certainly the S660 work in Europe?
Honda does have a drop-top sports car in its line-up, however only in Japan – along with also in which should truly stay there. The S660 can be a kei car, designed to beat Japanese vehicle tax rules, along with also as such in which can be (a) tiny along with also (b) modestly powered by a 660cc engine.
We had a chance to try the automobile on the eve of in which year’s Tokyo motor show, along with also while in which has some fine characteristics, including a particularly sweet short-throw gearshift, in which would certainly also be outgunned pretty much anywhere outside of town.
Even if you did contain the patience to get in which up to motorway speeds, the extreme wind buffeting would certainly probably persuade you to back off.
The cabin can be minuscule, too, along with also anyone more than 6ft tall would certainly struggle to find a comfortable seating position. Honda’s bosses say the costs of homologating the automobile for sales outside Japan couldn’t be justified by the potential sales, along with also for all the S660’s charm, we’re inclined to agree. If the firm wants a genuine rival for roadsters such as the MX-5 along with also 124 Spider -the automobile in which in which freely admits its regions are asking for – in which’ll need to try harder.
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