The Mazda Miata is one of my favorite cars of all time. It’s peppy, handles like a dream, and offers the top-down roadster experience. It doesn’t get much better than that. Or does it?
The 2002 Honda S2000 has a 2.0L inline four cylinder engine and 6 speed manual transmission. The engine, codenamed the F20, revs to 9,000 rpm without breaking too much of a sweat. The F20 also features Vtec, Honda’s system for variable valve timing allowing the engine to gain power higher up in the rev range, while maintaining fuel economy down low. Now usually I laugh at Vtec, since most people over hype it’s ability to increase performance. But while driving the S2000, I have to say I was impressed by the feeling I got from it. From 6,000 rpm all the way up to 9,000 rpm the extra valves really help. It felt like a rollercoaster, about to drop for the first time. No, Vtec isn’t a substitution for forced induction, but I will say it’s an impressive jump in power.
The interior of the S2000 is pretty bare. Everything is focused on the driver: so much so that the radio controls are to the left of the steering wheel, miles away from the passenger. There are two seats, a center console, and a power roof. But that’s really it. The S2000 is a driver’s roadster, just like the Miata. Which is why they are such a close comparison.
The decision between the Miata and the S2000 really only comes down to one factor: money. Take a look on whatever search engine you use for buying cars, and you’ll find thousands of dollars between Miatas and S2000s. Where a solid low mile Miata can be found for around $6000, a similar condition S2000 will be $10-11k. And really, you get what you pay for. Both cars offer the small-car-open-top experiences, but the S2000 is faster, and more well equipped. Personally, I love Miatas but if I had the extra money at my disposal, I’d get an S2000.