Honda's perpetual hunt for the ultimate street-driven track machine has led to the debut of an all-new revision of the S2000. Offered as an optional trim level for 2008, the CR (for Club Racer) is Honda and Shigeru Uehara's (chief engineer for the NSX and S2000) vision of a weekend racer S2000.
Though no Type R by any stretch, the CR is more than just an equipment package conjured up by the marketing department. Honda has completely re-engineered the S2000 to provide an uncompromising track experience in a street car. The CR receives a 99-pound weight reduction (not including hardtop), aerodynamic aids (which increase the drag coefficient slightly, although top speed is unaffected), track-tuned suspension and, most importantly, better tires. The 2.2-liter F22C engine's power output hasn't changed and the ride is still deemed streetable. Unfortunately. Those are the two areas that need attention before receiving a Type R badge.
Using identical sheetmetal as the basic S2000, Honda's overall goal was to make a car with better high-speed stability and proper balance. The reduction in weight comes primarily from removing the stock convertible soft-top, spare tire and tools, hood and cabin insulation, using slightly lighter 17-inch wheels, and ditching the radio and air conditioning. For the slightly less hardcore, the last two options can be reinstalled. The car also comes with the Honda Optional Equipment 48-pound non-structural aluminum hard top.
Deleting the soft top makes room for a rear reinforcement bar, which increases rear lateral chassis stiffness by roughly 11 percent. The steering rack mounting structures were also stiffened with two tubular steel braces, used in conjunction with the CR's 13.8:1 ratio steering rack. All these stiffeners bolt to existing S2000 hard points, but aren't recommended for use with the stock 14.9:1 steering rack, as Honda engineers informed us that it upsets the balance of the regular S2000.
To complement these changes, the suspension was stiffened overall-with damping increased mostly at low piston speeds-to take advantage of added tire grip and chassis rigidity. The CR also receives larger anti-roll bars, with a proportionately larger bar in the rear, since the heavier front spring rate already helps to keep body roll in check. To top off the better balance, Honda engineers selected a wider rear tire (from 245 to 255) for a tighter back end through high-speed sweepers.
The difference between a CR and a regular 2008 S2000 is only mildly noticeable at street pace. The new tires, slightly faster steering and more communicative ride stand out most to the average Joe. On track, the difference is huge. While much of it has to do with the advantage in grip from the Bridgestone Potenza RE070 tires, the neutral aerodynamic lift characteristics are highly evident, even under full braking as you approach the impending doom of a 120mph off-camber chicane. It truly is amazing how proper engineering and minor bolt-on changes can result in a car with such profound differences. Differences that make a stock S2000 (which is already a very capable car) feel almost inadequate on track next to the CR. At Mid Ohio, the CR pulled 2.5 seconds off the base model's 1:52.66 lap time. For S2000 lovers, this is the car to buy for showroom stock racing.
So, how do you make your own CR if you have a standard S2K? Order the CR tonneau cover (which contributes greatly to reducing rear lift), front bumper lip/splitter (that attaches to the stock bumper with minor modifications), CR or similar aftermarket rear wing, properly reinforce the trunk sheetmetal, add a slightly lower and stiffer suspension, dial in 20 minutes of static toe-in at the rear, and put on sticky tires in the CR's sizes.You won't have the stiffer chassis, faster steering, mildly tighter seats, shift knob, gauge cluster or other cosmetic goodies, but you'll still have a car that most S2000 tuners would love to build.
While only 1500 models will be made, just be happy knowing that we've finally one-upped the rest of the world, as the CR will only be available in the US.