By on July 24, 2007

vtec2.jpgMotor Trend reports that Honda is building a V8 engine, much to the dismay of VTEC worshippers everywhere. Since GM has proven- again and again- that V8 engines are dynamically and commercially useless in front-wheel drive cars, the V8's future in Honda's FWD family is something of a mystery. The all wheel-drive Acura RL will surely be a recipient, since its V6-only configuration (not to mention bland looks and ADD interior) have left it an also-ran in the midsize luxury category. The Ridgeline or its eventual successor is another likely candidate for the eight-pot– even though there are some fanboys who'd prefer to use Ridgelines to create artificial reefs. The most logical recipient of Honda's V8: the NSX. But Honda has been saying all along that their next gen supercar will get a ten-cylinder vibration factory instead. Aside from all of the practical issues, why is fuel-miserly Honda making a V8? Unless it's part of some master plan to soften the blow for refugee NASCAR families ditching the Detroit iron, Honda's motives remain shrouded in secrecy and conjecture.

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46 Comments on “Honda Set to Build a New V8 Engine. What’s THAT all about?...”


  • avatar
    Pch101

    Honda has traditionally been an extremely conservative company, which has been something to its detriment. Their reluctance to branch out has kept Acura in the second or third tier of the US luxury badges, and allowed Toyota to dominate the market.

    It sounds like just another example of Honda being a bit late to the party. In any case, they’re going to need to reinvent the RL, I doubt that a V8 would be enough to save the day. BMW gets plenty of mileage from its six-cylinder lineup, and most of the rivals have 4- and 6-cylinder offerings, so I doubt that the number of cylinders is the problem.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    Didn’t Honda say just last year, I think, that they would never build a V8 engine?

    In any case, it’ll be a welcome addition to the Ridgeline, and might make it competitive in the full-size truck class. I’d also love to see a V8 powered Accord… you wouldn’t have to turn, just floor the pedal and let torque steer do the rest…

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Let us all genuflect at the altar of Honda.

  • avatar
    cgraham

    I don’t think it’s really a big seceret…they want to beat Americans at everything…EVERYTHING. They are still pissed about the war man! Before you know it they will have apple pie flavoured rice cakes…nothing more Ameripanese than that.
    Or maybe they just got tired of tweating valve timings to get the best results…there really is no replacement…:)

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    If they put it in a proper AWD or RWD platform and base if off thier racing designs I might consider a Honda in the future.

  • avatar
    saabophile

    It is to satisfy the americans who think that a V8=performance when you can actually get better performance and better economy out of a 4, 5, or 6 cylinder engine with a turbo.

  • avatar

    What about the S2000?

    I know that little four is really fun to rev, but can you imagine it with a (lightweight) V8?

  • avatar
    miked

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Honda is making a V8. A V8 doesn’t necessarily imply bad gas mileage. It’s only bad when the engine is missized for the use of the vehicle. If you spend most of your time idling in city traffic, a V8 is bad. But burbling along on the open road running a V8 at 1500RPM is better than the screaming 4000RPM my flat 4 in my Subie does. It’s all about optimizing the engine for your driving patterns. So it would be great to have the choice when you buy a car to get a 4, 6, or 8 depending on what you want to do with it.

  • avatar
    Drew

    I’m a bit skeptical. With the long-term outlook for gas prices pointing up, up, and up, why develop a V8 now of all times?

    Besides, it doesn’t make any sense given the direction that Honda’s engine development seems to be taking. They’ve embraced turbo technology in the RSX. A turbo version of the engine already in the RL would make plenty of power for that car. The RL has plenty of problems, but its 300HP V6 isn’t one of them. I don’t see a V8 helping here.

    As for the Ridgeline, the upcoming turbo diesel V6 would seem to make more sense. I’m sure it would have more torque than the putative V8.

    I’m skeptical.

  • avatar
    miked

    All this talk about turbos out performing V8′s doesn’t take into account the average driver. Of course, I’d love a turbo, I love the idea of a turbo, it just seems right to me. But for the average person it can be a real pain. Most people expect relatively linear power output, a turbo will lag or the boost will come on strong, it can be disconcerting to someone who doesn’t understand how it all works. And then what about the warm up, or more importantly the cool down time. Despite what manufacturers say, you need to let the turbo cool down a bit before you shut the engine off. That’s got to be a real pain for the soccer mom who need to run into Starbucks right now. Turbos are there for the enthusiast, but for the regular person, there ain’t no replacement for displacement.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Who knows why? But you can’t deny that Honda would make one schweet V-8!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m a bit skeptical. With the long-term outlook for gas prices pointing up, up, and up, why develop a V8 now of all times?

    Plain and simple: To put the final nail in the Big 2.8 coffin.

    If When Toyota and Honda finally manage to conquer the large pickup segment, the only business that the Detroit automakers will dominate will be the rental car market. The last example of this relegation to the rental market of which I am aware occurred in the UK to the British domestic mainstream automakers, and we all know what eventually happened to them…

  • avatar
    Orian

    I wonder how big the v8 will be…if it is a medium to large V8 I could see them considering the large truck market.

    If it is smaller, then perhaps they are getting ready to release a massaged S2000, RL, or even in the NSX.

    A thing to consider is Honda is very active in Formula 1 where a 2.4 liter v8 is used. Perhaps they want to try and market a new small V8 to tie in with their activity in Formula 1.

    Then there’s the IRL link, although I believe that V8 is not a true Honda engine (could be mistaken, but I thought they rebadged an engine to participate).

  • avatar
    James2

    The last thing Honda needs to do now is tell anyone that they are in Formula One, because it will only highlight the fact that the current Honda F1 cars are a whole lot slower than Ferrari and McLaren at the moment.

  • avatar
    Orian

    James,

    That’s any form of racing. Just a couple of years ago they were ahead of McLaren. The upcoming rule changes may benefit Honda more than Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, or Renault. Toyota is gradually coming up this season after a couple of bad ones.

    Besides, how would that look for Ferrari or Mercedes (McLaren uses Mercedes engines)if Honda were beating them all the time? ;-)

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    That’s got to be a real pain for the soccer mom who need to run into Starbucks right now.

    Turbo cool-down is only necessary when you’ve been putting on some serious highway miles. A 2 minute trip to starbucks does not require time to cool down. And for most people, the time it takes them to get from the highway off-ramp to their garage is slow enough for the turbo to cool properly. Turbos are for anyone who wants great power and gas mileage out of a small engine, and most modern turbos have little (if any) lag.

    I’d be curious to see what sort of numbers honda could tweak out of a V8. Probably put anything the big 2.8 has to shame.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    Orian:

    A thing to consider is Honda is very active in Formula 1 where a 2.4 liter v8 is used. Perhaps they want to try and market a new small V8 to tie in with their activity in Formula 1.

    That hasn’t been tried since Mazda did the K8-DE 1.8L V6. A small displacement V8 would be an interesting motor for a street car.

  • avatar

    Gee, I just don’t see it happening.

    My (admittidly foggy) Honda crystal ball does not indicate a V8 is on the way. But you never know with Honda, for they are indeed secretive.

    To me, “conjecture” is the perfect, and operative, word here.

  • avatar

    miked:
    All this talk about turbos out performing V8’s doesn’t take into account the average driver. Of course, I’d love a turbo, I love the idea of a turbo, it just seems right to me. But for the average person it can be a real pain. Most people expect relatively linear power output, a turbo will lag or the boost will come on strong, it can be disconcerting to someone who doesn’t understand how it all works. And then what about the warm up, or more importantly the cool down time. Despite what manufacturers say, you need to let the turbo cool down a bit before you shut the engine off.

    it’s not 1983 anymore. The only real concern with adding turbos is cost and packaging.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    I for one can’t wait to see how the V8 works out in the next-gen AWD TL.

  • avatar
    brownie

    Why a V8? Why not? Why build a jet engine? Because they can – they’re Honda. It has been said many times that Honda thinks of themselves as an engine company, after all.

    Maybe this becomes an option on the RL, maybe the Ridgeline, or maybe they will build a proper Acura flagship priced above the RL and compete head-on with Lexus.

    Maybe they’re just being contrarian – have a commercial V8 ready for a (possible) decline in gas prices.

  • avatar

    they’re building it because they can

    they’re Honda

    the power of dreams

  • avatar
    Opus

    {sigh}
    It’s not for a CAR at all. It’s for the GoldWing!!

  • avatar
    Luther

    Someones going to shoehorn the V8 into a civic!

    The coffee can exhaust will sound like a moose in heat instead of a crying calf.

    It was only a matter of time til Honda built a V8. They will probably be able to get some low-end torque out of the thing. Tweaking valve timing can only go so far.

  • avatar
    Luther

    “Despite what manufacturers say, you need to let the turbo cool down a bit before you shut the engine off.”

    Germans run turbos near redline on the Autobahn and then stop at rest areas… About 20 second cool-down before engine stop. No problems that I know of. I think turbo cool-down is obsolete.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Well Honda builds some of the best engines. A v8 s2000 would be pretty awesome. Must be planned for rwd or awd, in a fwd it would need an lsd and that would create a massively front-heavy car.

  • avatar

    not to mention that you can just have the car keep running the engine for a bit after you stop. someone had modded my 1991 mr2 to do that, so I’m pretty sure the technology exists, incredibly sophisticated though it is.

  • avatar

    Even one my ancient Porsches has an automatic 30 second turbo coolant cycling after engine shutdown. I find it hard to believe that modern engines wouldn’t have the same feature if it’s needed.

  • avatar
    86er

    I’d be curious to see what sort of numbers honda could tweak out of a V8. Probably put anything the big 2.8 has to shame.

    I respectfully disagree with this throwaway comment.

    I wouldn’t count out GM Powertrain entirely here. They continue to “tweak” the OHV such as in the Z06 to 505 hp and are very likely planning on making it to 600-700 with their SS/Blue Devil variant.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    It sounds to me like Honda wants to go upmarket and get a bigger slice of the luxury car market. I’m looking for competitors to mid-sized cars like the Lexus GS430 and Infiniti M45, and maybe even a competitor to the Lexus LS460. Since the RL already has all-wheel-drive, it should be able to handle a V-8, but I’m hoping that Honda comes up with some rear-wheel drive chassis for their V-8 powered cars, like Lexus and Infiniti offer. A V-8 powered version of the Acura MDX to compete with the Infiniti FX45 would be nice, too.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    Why does a V8 have to be fuel inefficient? The Corvette gets 28mpg highway. That’s better than a lot of turbo cars with much less power. It’s also better than the 4 banger S2000, which is in desperate need of displacement, and some sound deadening to kill the annoying engine noise. The only turbocharged car I’ve driven is the WRX, and maybe that isn’t a good example, but if it’s indicative of the characteristics of turbo engines, you can count me out.

  • avatar

    Upmarket? Bigger luxury car? New Gold Wing? Naaah!

    Honda aims to follow Toyota into NASCAR.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    You’re all wrong, except for sykerocker, who beat me to the punch by three minutes.. Honda’s following Toyota into NASCAR.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Why does a V8 have to be fuel inefficient?

    It’s largely a function of power production. The more power produced, the more fuel used. Since the V-8 tends to produce more power even at times that the engine is doing minimal work as compared to a smaller motor, the larger motor can be expected to use more fuel.

    Where things go askew is if you drive a car hard. A turbo theoretically saves fuel because its peak production power is rarely used, so it behaves most of the time like a smaller, less powerful engine. But if you drive a turbo like you stole it, you’ll get no advantage from it because the boost is always on and the resulting power production will use additional fuel.

    Bottom line: If you plan on driving a car hard all the time, a turbo provides no advantage. If you can keep it to a minimum, then you should save a fair bit of fuel when compared to a V-8 with similar power characteristics.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “Since the V-8 tends to produce more power even at times when output levels are low than would a comparable smaller motor, it should use more fuel.”

    On the flip side though, this seems to actually help a car like the Corvette, as it can run a very tall top gear, and hence, impressive highway mileage.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    On the flip side though, this seems to actually help a car like the Corvette, as it can run a very tall top gear, and hence, impressive highway mileage.

    In theoretical terms, not really. Put a tall overdrive on the smaller motor, and you’ll get the same benefit.

    But in practical terms, that might be true if the smaller engine is naturally aspirated. The automaker may not be inclined to put a top gear on a smaller engined car that is useless for passing. However, a turbo should provide the power needed for the small engine to perform on demand.

    Again, part of it comes down to driving style. If you drive very hard consistently, then you’ll probably get no fuel savings at all from the turbo because power generation is always toward peak. If not, then the turbo will fare better because it will be producing less power and therefore consuming less fuel most of the time.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Give me them both. I want a turbo boxer-8 in our Subie, more power for my lead foot.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Maybe Honda is getting into the full sized PU market?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    well, the Honda v8 will probably get 40 miles per gallon of regular and run for 500,00 miles before it needs anything. If i were GM/Ford, id be concerned.

    Incidentally, the 28 mpg milage for the vette figures that you drive it like a prius. If you drive it like a vette, you will be lucky to return 10

  • avatar
    Ryan

    I’d guess that if Honda does a V8 (which I wouldn’t doubt – Honda would just engineer the hell out of the thing), it’ll still be fairly small, probably around 4 litres.

    I don’t think it’ll represent a death toll for the Big 3 yet though. Much like the Ridgeline, it’ll probably only provide an oddball alternative to the norm, rather than something class-defining. At least, if it’s used in a truck application (say what you will, GM’s got the small-block V8 thing down pretty damn well, and Ford/Chrysler aren’t doing too bad either, at least in the context of trucks).

  • avatar
    Johnson

    I am doubtful that Honda is going to build a production V8. For years, Honda’s V8 plans have been “on again off again”. Until I see an official statement from Honda, I’m skeptical.

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    Thinking outside the wheel for a moment, is it possible that Honda is looking, at least in part, to expand its marine engine line with a V8? The most powerful Honda marine engine currently available is a 3.5 liter V-6 single overhead cam engine, producing 225 horsepower. Given that at least one competitor (Yamaha) offers a 350-horsepower marine V8, I could see Honda wanting to field its own 300+ horsepower V8 boat mover, especially if the displacement could be kept well under the Yamaha’s 5.3 liters. Automotive applications for such a marine engine would be important, but not necessarily essential (after all, of the 17 outboard motor models Honda offers, only 7 are rated at over 50 horsepower; Honda clearly can make money with engines not intended for use in automobiles).

  • avatar
    Drew

    Maybe Honda is getting into the full sized PU market?

    Maybe. But, again, it seems that Honda’s upcoming turbodiesel V6 would be a better match for truck-type duty.

    Why does a V8 have to be fuel inefficient? The Corvette gets 28mpg highway.

    Well, the Corvette’s coefficient of drag is pretty low at 0.29. For reference the Prius is 0.26. This low, low Cd also allows the use of a really tall overdrive to keep the revs down. The Corvette is relatively lightweight at 3200lbs as well.

    The reason that, all other things being equal, a V8 will get worse mileage than a V6 is internal to the engine itself. More pistons means more friction on the cylinder walls. More pistons means the cams and the crank all weigh more in addition to the weight of the pistons. This moving weight is different than things like seats and body panels and glass that doesn’t move.

    Take a hunk of metal moving at 50 feet per second ( a piston) to the right (just to keep it easy). Now, reverse its direction of travel over the course of, say, 2 inches. It’s now going at 50 feet per second to the left. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to do that. A V8 gets to do it a few thousand times per minute for each piston.

    In short, a V8 has to spend more energy than a V6 (which spends more than a 4) just to keep itself running. This is why a V8 with “cylinder cut-off technology” running on 6 cylinders still won’t get as good of mileage as a V6.

    [Thus endeth the physics lesson]

    If Honda wants more power, I really think that a turbo version of one of their already sweet sixes would be ideal. At least from a technical standpoint. From a marketing standpoint? Well…I hope the engineers are still running Honda.

    Finally, I had to laugh at the Goldwing comments. My dad has one of those and I have to admit that i don’t understand it. He just tells me to wait till I get old…

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Honda is one of very few automobile companies in the world which doesn’t make a V-8 right now. Consequently, there are big market segments they don’t get to play in. Volvo gained a bunch of XC90 sales when they added the V-8 option. I would expect to see a Honda V-8 in the next RL and as an option in the MDX.

    Personally I would rather a good V-6 any day, but I am hardly representative of the car buying masses!

  • avatar
    Orian

    If Honda does indeed follow Toyota into Nascar it will be because Nascar has paid Honda to do so.

    Think about it – if the big three go belly up, Nascar is going to have a hard time finding support for a single engine manufacturer (face it folks, the cars have been the same for years – it’s teetering on the verge of becoming a completely spec race series if the big three fall out of it leaving only Toyota able to participate with engines).

    I suppose its a bit ironic that the big three are mainly supporting Nascar while the rest of the world’s manufacturers participate in Formula 1, WRC, and touring cars.

  • avatar
    Jan Andersson

    When there’s only etanol to get, you need 40 % bigger engines.


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