While Honda lists the “CR” designation of the S2000 CR as referring to this new version as a “club racer” edition, I kind of thought it would also fit the bill as “Corvette reduced.”
The new Honda produces about half the power of the Corvette from half the number of engine cylinders, costs about half the price of a Corvette and is about half the comfort and convenience as the Chevy roadster.
While the Corvette requires a little bit of acrobatic skill to gracefully enter and exit, the Honda S2000 performance would almost garner golds when accomplished perfectly. We didn’t even get close to bronze during our week in the car.
What sets the new CR edition apart from the standard S2000 models is a vehicle that is lighter, more rigid structurally, benefits from a lighter removable hardtop, gets stickier tires and tighter steering tuning and tweaked suspension components.
Honda bills the S2000 CR as the car you can drive TO the track, drive ON the track and drive home FROM the track (granted you have access to a track).
For everyday use, the new CR is a rough ride around town. You feel every expansion joint and pothole (and pebble for that matter) but you get a car that turns on a dime and gives back change. Plus you will be instantly cool with the millennial crowd, especially if you get your Honda in the pearl yellow as our tester was, complete with matching yellow stitching, seat material and lettering – and that big honkin’ wing on the decklid.
The S2000 CR gets aerodynamic treats front and rear and larger rubber in the rear, although we found that this is not a tire-burner like some of the other sports cars we have driven recently. The Honda delivers 237 hp and 162 lb. ft. of torque from the high-revving 2.2-liter inline four-cylinder i-VTEC engine that is backed by a slick, quick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox.
There is even a cool red starter button to fire up this little demon.
After coming out of the low rumbling V-8 Corvette it took a little getting used to the screaming four-banger of the Honda – more banshee than bravado.
For nice-weather driving, the aluminum hardtop is easy to remove thanks to a lever at each of four attachments points and the large glass rear window is the heaviest part of the 48-lb. top. Behind each headrest (of the snug, sporty Recaro-style seats) is a covered rollbar (with rear speakers) and molded rear deck that further finishes the Honda’s sporty appeal.
Inside the trunk, drivers will find the spare tire replaced with an inflation kit (for further weight savings) and in the space once occupied by the soft top is a cross support to increase torsional rigidity.
The CR trim package on the S2000 removes the air conditioning and radio but buyers can choose to add those back on if weight is less of a concern than comfort.
In the limited times I was able to push the Honda S2000 CR a bit I found it to be quite the little performer with excellent handling and steering, but it seemed the brakes might have been a bit glazed as I had to work a bit at slowing the vehicle down at times. The car is very stable in corners and once you get the motor wound up into the powerband (somewhere between 6,000-8,000 rpm) it becomes a little rocket. Think fancy go-kart on steroids.
Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway and pricing for the S2000 CR (with air and radio) begins at $37,300.