2008 Honda S2000 CR: Join the Club in this Roadster
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Spring is here and that means it’s time to get out your convertible roadster, take the top down and drive like the wind, with fresh air flowing through your hair and in and around the topless cabin.
If you don’t already own a convertible, it’s time to check a few out. For my first press fleet car of the spring, I was fortunate enough to test drive the 2008 Honda S2000 CR in sunshine and 60-degree temperatures throughout central Pennsylvania and Maryland. And when the temps dropped below 40, I utilized the aluminum hard-top that can be taken off and stowed in less than a minute and re-attached in the same time frame. Aesthetically, the S2000 CR is a sight to behold, from its sleek, ground-hugging body to the curving rear wing – with or without the easy-to-handle 48-lb. top.
Just as if I had taken the wraps off my own winter-stored coupe and revved up the engine for a post-Easter ride, I eased into a sexy Royal Blue Pearl S2000 CR assembled by Honda in Suzuka, Japan, pushed the start button and listened to the 4-cylinder engine sing like a race car’s power plant. After focusing on that throaty ballad, I manually shifted into first, then accelerated and moved from second-through-sixth to let the engine growl across boroughs, past farmland and up and down the Interstates with the feeling that winter was behind us and spring has sprung.
The “CR” portion of the S 2000 CR name stands for “club racer,” and after driving it for seven days, I found that this is a club worth joining, as it is both track worthy and street worthy. The CR trim, lay-out, function, capability and suspension were all conceived as a true track car, and only 1500 of them will go on sale in the United States. This limited-edition roadster with the removable hard-top has reduced weight, increased aerodynamics, an eye-popping rear spoiler, improved stiffness and road feel, more aggressive tires (Bridgestone Potenzas) and larger rear rubber. All of this serves to make the S2000 CR a genuine track car for open track events and club racing.
After hearing that racetrack-inspired engine roar, I was surprised that the mill had not been upgraded and bulked up. The ’08 S2000 CR is powered by last year’s aluminum-alloy 2.2-liter DOHC 16-valve, in-line 4-cylinder engine, linked to a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission. The engine is EPA rated at 18mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway, using premium unleaded gas. My weeklong test achieved an average of 23mpg.
The set-up pumps out 237 hp and 162 lbs.-ft. of torque, and that proved to be sufficient to propel my light, 2855-lb. vehicle quickly enough to wow them at home and at the track.
My drag strip tests took me from zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds toward a quarter-mile time of 14.6. It seemed even faster as the driver seat is low to the ground and engine noise and track feel feed the perception of speed. To add to the excitement, particularly during a few autocross tests, this cozy, ground-hugging coupe exhibits a lot of understeer that makes you feel like you can take on any curve at any speed, but which requires relentless concentration.
Otherwise, the steering is responsive, the balance is excellent and there is very little wag or waver, even during quick-reaction drills. The suspension may be too stiff for daily driving, and you feel every asphalt and macadam nuance in town, but for some of us, that’s not a bad thing to have in a coupe. The track set-up utilizes 17x 7-inch front and 17 x 8.5-inch rear alloy wheels covered in 215/45R17 front and 255/40R 17 rear Bridgestones, to stick the 162.2-inch long, 68.9-inch wide and 50-inch high coupe to the pavement.
Inside, the S2000 CR is a cozy and glove-fitting 34.6 inches of headroom, 44.3 inches of legroom, 50.7 inches of shoulder room and 49.8 inches of hip room, with 5 cu.-ft. of cargo room. Sightlines are interfered with to the rear right and left, but the spoiler, though dead-center of the rear window, is arched and allows for decent vision. The cockpit is accented by air conditioning, leather seats, aluminum shift knob, easy-to-read gauges, power windows and door locks and an 8-speaker audio system. If you like quiet and smooth, forget it, the ride is loud and full of vibration, but this IS a CR.
Honda's “Safety for Everyone” initiative is proven in the S2000 through the NHTSA’s 4-star ratings in front crash tests and 5 stars in side crash tests and rollover situations. Safety features include front and rear crush zones, side-impact door beams, dual front airbags, ABS with vehicle stability assist, and tire pressure monitor system.
All items in my S2000 were standard, in a base price of $37,300. That even includes a full 13.2-gallon tank of gas. The only additional assessment is a $635 destination and handling charge. The final sticker price as tested was $37,935.
At that price, a springtime ride in the Honda S2000 CR is right on track.
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Journalist note: Information about the Carlisle Events Group, its event listings, auction offerings and expo center is available to journalists by phone:
Carlisle Event Marketing Dept.
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