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Old 05-14-2006, 08:35 AM   #1
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2004 S2000 vs 1999 Porsche Boxster : thoughts after test drive

Got bored yesterday and popped by my favourite dealer to test drive a 2004 Honda S2000 (running the F22C1 block), so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

The S2000 is supposed to be one of the best, if not the best, high performance roadster to be produced. Top Gear survey rated the S2000 the #1 choice of readers. Performance-wise, it does the century sprint in 6.1 seconds using 250 hp and 153 lb/ft of torque.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S2000

Having read so many good things about the S2000, I decided I HAD to have a spin in it.

And I was disappointed.

As a daily driver, the S2000 is a nice car. Well put together, beautiful lines, fantastic balance, and the entire dashboard is built around the driver (there's nothing AT ALL on the passenger side, and everything is within finger-reach with my hands on the steering wheel).

The 6-speed short-throw gearbox is so good, that I immediately decided I had to have a short-shifter (the only ones I can get here in Dubai are the FVD ones) installed (which I did, 3 hours after I test drove the S2000).

The roof mechanism works smoothly, quietly, and looks like it would last forever.

HOWEVER....

It lacks the oomph of the Boxster (and mine is just a humble 2.5l Box) at low and mid-ranges, and at high rpms (above 5000 rpm), it sounds so strained. The Boxster's flat-6, at the same rpm *sings*, and is creamy smooth. The Boxster's power delivery is also more practical on a daily basis with usable torque and horses from 3000 rpm all the way to 6000 rpm; the S2000's doesn't start till 7000 rpm, at which point it sounds like a tomcat whose ****s got caught on a barbed wire fence.

The seating position on the S2000 is only just slightly lower than a sedan, but nowhere as low as the Boxster's (mine has Eibach lowering springs with stock shocks and works like a charm) which is much like a go-kart.

The tonneau cover on the S2000 isn't ideal either. It looks half-completed with the top-down without the cover, but if you leave the cover on, you'll have to spend 5 minutes taking it off when you want to raise the hood, and stow it into a tiny boot area. The Boxster takes big points here for practicality with the front and rear storage areas.

The fact that depreciation on the 1999 Boxster is low doesn't hurt it either, whereas the depreciation on the 2004 S2000 (which is selling for just US$2k more than the '99 Boxster) is killer.

The S2000 is still a great car, but as a daily driver, I'm much happier with the Boxster

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Old 05-14-2006, 09:18 AM   #2
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What an interesting and thoughtful post.

I see many S2000's around town and often wondered about the comparisons. I've never been serious about getting one since I'm not really sold on the look - it just doesn't attrack attention. I would think that it would make a formidable track opponent, however.

Thanks again for the post - it was a good Sunday read!
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Old 05-14-2006, 09:42 AM   #3
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great review.I was also looking at the s2000 years back.then it hit me i rather have a boxster a couple of years older than a newer s2000.so i purchased a 1999 boxster.love it.and do not regret it one bit.


p.s.dubai eh,any pics.your neighborhood,your car,attractions.my mental view of dubai is probably very wrong.thanks lorenzo......
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Old 05-14-2006, 09:48 AM   #4
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I was in love with the s2000 not knowing anything about the possibility of me ever owning a porsche. I test drove atleast 3 s2000 while pretending I would buy one. A new s2000 back then (and even now so) costing what? $30K+? Not worth it. I see way too many of them on the streets now, and I think that owning one is not as glamourous as owning a porsche. Despite the problems we have in our boxsters, I think it's still worth fixing (maybe to a certain point).

Oh and I HATED ALWAYS HATED, the dash in the s2000. Always disappointing whenever I even saw the newer models, because it was always the same!!! One din for stereo??? What's that tachometer? I just hate the cheap computerized look of it. Ours has a more sporty look, and I'll have to admit that I purchased my 2.5 with the sports package; which undoubtably came with the white gauges.
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Old 05-14-2006, 11:50 AM   #5
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"The S2000 is supposed to be one of the best, if not the best, high performance roadster to be produced. "

Not sure where you may have read this but I have never heard this accolade before for the S2000.

However, I have heard that is a great VALUE given its features and content and I think that is likely true. Alot of roadster for the money.

I drove one and was not impressed. Too peaky and too harsh a ride for my taste.

Having said that, I love the way the car looks and shifts.

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Old 05-14-2006, 04:44 PM   #6
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Thanks for that write up. I always wondered if I had passed over a fantastic car when I bought the Boxster. It's cheaper, looks good on paper, and has descent style. I'm not so upset anymore.


Quote:
Originally Posted by arcticnorth
p.s.dubai eh,any pics.your neighborhood,your car,attractions.my mental view of dubai is probably very wrong.thanks lorenzo......
Picture paradise, no crime and everything SUPER clean and new, the best beaches, best roads and lots of money everywhere with no income taxes. Thats UAE my friend, espically Dubai. I would love to move there, just don't know how and if I could really make it.
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Old 05-14-2006, 05:52 PM   #7
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Well for a 4 cylinder car , you gotta admit that those numbers are great.
But again, I'm a Porsche guy so I probably wont buy one either..lol
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Old 05-15-2006, 12:30 AM   #8
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Well for a 4 cylinder car , you gotta admit that those numbers are great.
But again, I'm a Porsche guy so I probably wont buy one either..lol
Kinda hard to look back now. Was wondering if the 911 is any better. Having watched Season 7 of Top Gear last night off my PC, I'm almost convinced that my next car should be a 911 Carrera 2 (987), if budget allows.

Until then, the Boxster's my choice!
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Old 05-15-2006, 09:48 AM   #9
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I have yet to pass an S2000 that did not stare at my '04 S with a look of total envy. Yesterday I came up on one on a wide-open stretch of I-5 between Seattle and Portland, the driver looked over at me, backed off about 10 car lengths and I never saw him again.
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Old 05-15-2006, 11:18 AM   #10
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As recently as two years ago Car and Driver picked the S2000 over the Boxster and 350Z as the best roadster around under $50 grand or so.

It'd be a great track car but after 7 years of VTEC motors they're just not that much fun on the street becauase they have to be wrung out to extract maximum performance.
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Old 05-15-2006, 01:42 PM   #11
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I had an S2000 for 4 years and the peaky powerband and harsh ride were too much. I recently traded for an 06 Boxster S and am loving it so far. If the reliabilty holds up.........
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Old 05-17-2006, 01:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 986Jim
Thanks for that write up. I always wondered if I had passed over a fantastic car when I bought the Boxster. It's cheaper, looks good on paper, and has descent style. I'm not so upset anymore.




Picture paradise, no crime and everything SUPER clean and new, the best beaches, best roads and lots of money everywhere with no income taxes. Thats UAE my friend, espically Dubai. I would love to move there, just don't know how and if I could really make it.
spot on, jim!

This place is great. Clean, sunny, crime-free, tax-free, idiot-free (Darwinism at its best!), and all in all a great place to live. Cars are cheap, so is petrol. I wring the daylights out of my boxster (6000 rpm is now 'normal') and love the engine note. Couldn't do that back in Singapore as petrol was double the price :P
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Old 05-17-2006, 01:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralegen
I was in love with the s2000 not knowing anything about the possibility of me ever owning a porsche. I test drove atleast 3 s2000 while pretending I would buy one. A new s2000 back then (and even now so) costing what? $30K+? Not worth it. I see way too many of them on the streets now, and I think that owning one is not as glamourous as owning a porsche. Despite the problems we have in our boxsters, I think it's still worth fixing (maybe to a certain point).

Oh and I HATED ALWAYS HATED, the dash in the s2000. Always disappointing whenever I even saw the newer models, because it was always the same!!! One din for stereo??? What's that tachometer? I just hate the cheap computerized look of it. Ours has a more sporty look, and I'll have to admit that I purchased my 2.5 with the sports package; which undoubtably came with the white gauges.
Admittedly, I'm pretty much ok with the S2000's dash, and I absolutely adore the shifter, and love the way that every control is within fingertip-reach. Build quality isn't shabby, but the engine doesn't doesn't sound as creamy as the flat-6. And the fact that the S2000 has to be driven hard doesn't help either.

I'm sure it would have performed a lot better if I had properly launched the car, but hey, that's not how I drive every day, and that's where the Boxster shines.

Side question: Some people believe that the Boxster is a much better-balanced car compared to the 911. Assuming that I have an extra $30k to spend, should I get the 3.6l block from the 997 to replace the original 2.5l 986 block, or should i consider getting an M3 convertible?

Has anyone here driven the E46 M3 convertible and the Boxster? How do they match up for daily driveability, what do you love and hate about each?
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Old 05-17-2006, 07:07 AM   #14
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For racing the S2000 is awesome. But most people who own this car will never venture to the track or autocross to see it in its "natural habitat."
THe s2000 is probably the most represented car up here in the north east at local autocross clubs. Several members own an S2000 strictly for track/autocross use.

In many ways its the benchmark for top down sportscars; value, reliability, excellent steering and shifting and decent braking.
It's a rare example of front engine car where the engine actually sits behind the front shock mounts giving it a very nice feeling in the turns.
But at the end of the day its a Honda and loses some of its appeal.

For daily driving I would definitely choose the S2000 over my Boxster S.
You can cruise in the S2000 and save some money on gas and the fact that its
a Honda doesn't scare you when you start racking up miles. Its a blue collar sports car and not a garage queen like my Boxster. I intended to make the S2000 my in between the Boxster and Miata car but I like the little 1.8 Miata so much that I held onto to it three years longer than I intially intended.
I'm sure if I bought the S2000 I probably might never have traded for the BoxsterS. Some people hate the motorcycle engine in a roadster concept but some looove it. different strokes.
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Old 05-17-2006, 07:32 AM   #15
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Smile

I would not choose the S2000 for a daily drive. Without any torue down low, I would be frustrated indeed.

Harsh ride too!

For everyday driving, I really like the Box S with the six speed.
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Old 05-17-2006, 10:11 AM   #16
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LOL
that's because you are power guy! You guys want all the power all the time!

The s2000 lack of low end torque is weird but I guess the intent was to make it feel like you were driving a civic for the daily commute and then when you put your foot on it on the highway the 9,000RPMS start screaming.

Also for daily driving I don't think the BoxsterS six speed is ideal at all.
Well certainly not compared to the bolt action rifle precise movement of the S2000 gear box. That's one piece of engineering that was made to be used ALLOT.
Snick snick Snick. There is not a better shifter in car world today.

Rowing gears in the clumsier Boxster gearbox on a daily basis would get tiresome.
Installing the Short Shift will only make it notchier which isn't really a solution but just changing the flavor of the problem.

But I'm sure many a motorist wish he had a BoxsterS for his daily drive!
I guess if cost is no object I would definitely drive the BoxsterS every day too.
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Old 05-17-2006, 12:56 PM   #17
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i'm surprised no one has mentioned adding vortech's popular intercooled supercharger kit to an s2000. for less than $5K, it adds 100 hp and 60 lb-ft of torque, which supposedly shows up early in the powerband and reduces the amount of revs needs when just cruising. it seems to be a very attractive solution to the 'peakiness' of an otherwise great car.
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Old 05-17-2006, 01:40 PM   #18
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60 pounds more torque still seems a bit low specially with that much more power.
And those things (SC's) really put mighty wear on the drive train.
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Old 05-17-2006, 02:44 PM   #19
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"Rowing gears in the clumsier Boxster gearbox on a daily basis would get tiresome.
Installing the Short Shift will only make it notchier which isn't really a solution but just changing the flavor of the problem."

With more torque, I don't need to shift that often. Moreover, I can skip gears if I want.

The linkage on the Boxster is far from sloppy but yes, Honda does have the linkage issue handled for sure.
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Old 05-17-2006, 03:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perfectlap
<...snip...>
But I'm sure many a motorist wish he had a BoxsterS for his daily drive!
I guess if cost is no object I would definitely drive the BoxsterS every day too.
You hit the nail on the head. I gave a lot of though to commuting on my Falco or finding another bike before buying the Box S. Ultimately, I didn't want to deal with wearing dress clothes under leathers or a Aerostich suit - especially in the summer months when it can get to be 90-95. Plus, commuter traffic in the Tri-State area can be rough; maybe not as bad as LA or Houston, but motorists here aren't used to sharing the road.

Nah, I'd rather jump in the Box, put the top down, put on some music and enjoy the ride.

As for the S2000... nice cars but if they have all-in-one binnacles as Honda's Odyssey, I'd run screaming for the hills. It's on of the few things I truly hate about the family Odyssey. You would think Honda could have put a bit more R&D effort in that part of man-machine interface. Just my $.02.

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