Cars

Why the Honda S2000 Beats the Miata at its Own Game

Since it debuted in 1999 for the 2000 model year, the Honda S2000 has constantly been compared to the Mazda MX-5 Miata. In all fairness, the Miata did come out about a decade before the S2000, so it makes sense. But ask any S2000 owner the magic question, “The S2000, that’s like a Miata, right?” Then watch them flip a lid faster than their car can go 0 to 60. To all my fellow S2000 owners (and those interested in the S2000), here are a few reasons why the Honda S2000 is better than the MX-5 Miata.

It’s faster

Since the current generation of the MX-5 Mazda is the quickest and fastest Miata ever produced, we’ll use that for comparison’s sake. In Car and Driver’s test of the 2019 MX-5 Mazda, they noted a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.5 seconds.

In a similar review of the 2003 Honda S2000, they noted a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds and a quarter-time of 14.1 seconds. How do you like your Miata now?

Okay, so we know it’s really only a small margin and in reality, the cars would look dead even in an actual race. But you have to hand it to the S2000, considering it was pulling these numbers in the early 2000s when Mazda was experimenting with the MAZDASPEED Miata, a turbocharged version that was actually slower than today’s iteration.

It’s bigger

OK, so the S2000 is only about 8 inches longer (162 inches vs 154 inches) and about an inch wider and taller than the current MX-5. But when we’re comparing cars this small, every inch counts. Curiously, the overall passenger volume between the two are basically the same at 49 cubic feet, but the MX-5 does feel much smaller when you sit inside it, making the S2000 feel a little more comfortable in terms of space.

It has a timeless design

The Mazda MX-5 has been around for 30 years and has gone through 4 different generations, changing its look pretty drastically each time. The S2000, on the other hand, only received a minor refresh during its 10-year run and still looks great to this day. I know, beauty is subjective and I will say that the current MX-5 looks great, but have the older generations withstood the test of time like the S2000? Maybe, maybe not.

VTEC

This little comparison wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Honda’s acronym for “Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control.” Any “VTEC, yo” jokes aside, I think it goes without saying that the S2000’s powerplant is the stuff of legend. The F20C engine has long been heralded as one of the best naturally-aspirated engines ever built as it puts out 240 horsepower with just 2 liters of displacement and revs up to 9000 rpm. The Mazda Miata never did that, and probably never will.

For a driver’s car, it’s just better

The main point of this isn’t necessarily to bash on the MX-5 (sort of) but to make a point that Honda did make one of the best roadsters in automotive history. There are no touchscreens or fancy features in the S2000, it was all about driver-focused fun.

And in all honesty, being able to measure it up to a legendary car like the Mazda Miata/MX-5 – which has been around forever and has no signs of stopping – should be seen as an act of praise to the Miata fan base. After all, top-down motoring is fun, no matter which car you’re in. (It’s just more fun in an S2000)