Shopping for a cheap, used sports car can be exciting, but tough at the same time. There have been many great choices in the market over the past 20 years, such as the Subaru BR-Z, the Nissan 370Z, and even the Mazda Miata. But there are two choices that many sports car enthusiasts tend to gravitate toward as well: the Honda S2000 and the Porsche 996.
Those two cars are great choices, and although it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison between the two, we thought it would be interesting to go over the details of each to help you decide.
The Honda S2000 is a high-revving performer
Starting off with the Honda S2000, this venerable two-seat convertible was the brand’s only rear-wheel-drive sports car (aside from the Acura NSX). It was produced from 2000 to 2009 and is still widely available on the used market, however, finding a clean low-mileage example could be tough.
In terms of performance, there were actually two different engines to choose from: a 2.0-liter engine that redlined at 8,300 rpm or a 2.2-liter engine that revved to 7,800 rpm and had more mid-range torque. If you want the beefier engine, then you’ll have to find 2004 to 2009 S2000.
In addition to the larger engine, the updated S2000 received an updated front and rear fascia, updated suspension tweaks for better balance and daily drivability, and even one more cupholder.
The main highlight of the S2000 isn’t just its high-revving engine. It’s exceptionally well-balanced when going around corners whether you’re on a track or a curvy mountain road. And its no-nonsense, driver-focused interior helps you focus more on the road as opposed to playing around with any of the stuff on the dashboard. There’s even a little door in front of the radio that you can close so it doesn’t distract you while driving.
The Porsche 996 is a formidable competitor
On the other end of the spectrum, the Porsche 996 provides an upscale feel mixed with robust performance. The “996” designation refers to the 1997 to 2006 generation of the Porsche 911, which is the least favorite generation among the brand’s fans, mainly due to the car’s “fried-egg headlights” and potential for catastrophic engine failure due to a shady IMS bearing.
If you can get over those two things, though, then you’ll enjoy a choice between a 3.4-liter, flat-six engine that produces 294 hp or a 3.6-liter, flat-six engine that produced 320 hp. If you want more power than that, then you can find a 911 Turbo or GT from that generation, but we’ll leave those out of this comparison.
According to Car and Driver, you should be able to get from 0 to 60 mph in around 4.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 177 mph in the Porsche 996. And as for the S2000, you can expect a 0 to 60 mph time of about 5.5 seconds. While it’s obviously slower than the Porsche, the S2000 isn’t about straight-line speed.
The S2000’s lower power means that you can get carry more speed into the corners. With the Porsche, you would have to slow down and set yourself up for the corner first in order to get through it without getting into trouble.
Pricing and reliability
Honda’s are known for their reliability and the high-performing S2000 is no exception. Repair costs for the S2000 are relatively low and you can still find plenty of OEM parts at a fair price, should you need them.
For the Porsche 996, the parts are more expensive and although they can be reliable, you can expect to pay much more repairs over the Honda. But if you buy a Porsche, you should probably expect that anyway.
As for pricing, the values for the Honda S2000 are currently increasing, but you can still find them for around $10,000 to $20,000 nationwide. And for the Porsche 996, there are many clean examples selling for around $15,000 to $25,000 all over the country.
Which one should you pick?
If you want the reliability and cost-effectiveness of a Honda, along with a lot of high-revving fun, then go with an S2000. But if you want the panache that a Porsche can bring, in addition to more off-the-line power, then go with the 996 911.