2002 Honda S2000 (AP1) Engineering Review!
The S200) features a 2 liter, inline four cylinder with dual overhead cams and the ever-popular VTEC. It produces 240 HP at 8,300 RPM, and 153 lb-ft of torque at 7500 RPM. The engine screams all the way to 9,000 RPM, and had the highest specific output of any naturally aspirated production vehicle on the market when it was released, only to be dethroned by the Ferrari 458 about 10 years later, when they too decided 9,000 RPM was a cool idea.
The S2000 incorporates carbon fiber into the cylinder bore liner. Essentially the aluminum alloy is poured over cylinder cores which are made up of aluminum and carbon fibers, and these fibers absorb the molten aluminum. Then the cylinders are bored out, removing most of this material, but leaving a composite cylinder wall about half a millimeter thick. This remaining layer is reinforced with carbon and aluminum fibers, however it’s still integral with the rest of the block. Honda claims this gives it additional strength, and allows for using larger bores within the same size external engine block. The same technology is used in the 3.2L Acura NSX. Keeping strength in mind, the S2000’s pistons are made of forged aluminum, a first for Honda.
The transmission had to be designed as compact as possible since the engine is pushed so far back. To do this, Honda kept all six close-ratio speeds and reverse on two parallel shafts to keep the design narrow, and both of these shafts are coupled at the output end, which helps to reduce the load on the gear synchronizers, and thus allows for smaller sized gears. All of the power eventually makes its way back to the rear wheels, the torque split among the tires through a Torsen limited-slip differential.
The chassis focuses on keeping the center of gravity low. The vehicle has a 50/50 weight distribution, and you can see the engine is tucked behind the front axle, giving it a lower polar moment of inertia by keeping the mass more central in the vehicle. It also features what Honda calls a high x-bone frame which keeps the car rigid, obviously important for convertibles which don’t have a hard top aiding rigidity. The frame comes in at the front on both sides, comes in through the floor tunnel, and then splits back out at the rear. There are of course side members as well. One of the keys to the x-bone design is that the frame rails at the front and rear are at the same height as the center tunnel, and Honda claims this gives it similar torsional rigidity to a closed top, yet better bending rigidity than open or closed top vehicles. Now with the exception of the aluminum hood, the body is all steel.
The suspension up is an “in-wheel double wishbone” design, called this because they’ve shaped the components so much of it can fit within the 16 inch wheels. This helps with packaging, and is a major contributing factor to having a low hood and rear deck line. There’s a double wishbone both up-front and in the rear. The front suspension also has a fairly low roll center, which helps keep the wheel perpendicular to the ground while cornering, and it minimizes suspension jacking and track width changes while cornering which helps with steering feel.
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