Earlier this year, we reported that an S2000 replacement, dubbed the ‘Baby NSX’, would feature a mid-mounted version of the Civic Type R’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Now, according to a source close to Honda, pressure to adhere to stringent emissions regulations has forced the company to downsize the engine to a 1.5-litre turbo which, with electric motor assistance, is expected to generate around 300bhp.
Honda is acutely aware of the popularity of – and the profits to be made from – mid-sized sports cars, especially in the US. Rivals such as the Porsche Cayman, Audi TT, BMW Z4 and even Alfa Romeo 4C will be the targets when the S2000 successor appears in around three years.
Design inspiration will mainly come from Honda’s flagship NSX, seen in the angular LED headlamps, wide air intakes and sculpted rear end of our image. And while the original S2000 was only available as a roadster, Honda is set to change direction and offer the successor as a coupe only.
A price of around £50,000 is being targeted, and the S2000 replacement will go some way towards boosting the brand’s image in the US, Europe and other markets like Australia. “The Civic Type R is a good start, but the NSX will be out of reach for many. So Honda really needs a signature mid-engine sports car that does not break the bank and appeals to fans at the same time,” revealed our source.
Another critical factor for the new coupe is the company’s relationshipto Formula One. The new S2000 will incorporate F1 technology and be developed in conjunction with McLaren and Honda’s F1 programme. Our source explained: “When Honda made its last F1 comeback in 1999, it basically coincided with the development of the original S2000. That’s where you got the first-generation’s screaming 9,000rpm engine.”
Can Honda climb to the top of the £50k sports car sector? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...