By on October 23, 2009

Paint it green (courtesy:Motor Trend)

Pity Takanobu Ito. Like many (ok, some) of us, the CEO of Honda is torn between his love for speed and the desire to be perceived as environmentally responsible. On the one hand, he lambasted Toyota for building its $375k LF-A supercar, saying that to his mind the fuel-cell FCX clarity (once described by Jonny Lieberman as “exactly like a Honda Accord”) was his idea of a modern sports car. On the other, “I would like to make a sports car,” Ito tells Automotive News [sub]. “Once we have that technology and once we have cash on hand, I would like to see Honda have a sports car that symbolizes our technology.” Is he referring to the forthcoming CR-Z? Because, as cool as that car looks, it will hardly satisfy the LF-A jealousy we detect in Mr Ito’s voice. And you have to imagine that the creator of the NSX is as qualified as anyone else to design and develop the first 21st Century green sportscar. But what would that look like? Assume any price point up to the LF-A’s insane $375k sticker, and give us some specs. And remember, at this point, green is relative… and quantifiable only in terms of marketing.

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55 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: How Can Honda Have Its Cake And Eat It Too?...”


  • avatar
    windswords

    All he has to do is create a modern version of the NSX. That car was already green in my book if you compare it to other super cars. It did more with less but still had great performance. It doesn’t need special tecknology that will inflate the price just make a modern version of what you had. It’s shame that Accura has lost its way.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Love the NSX, great car.

    They did an amazing job with the S2000, it was beating the Z3 2.8 and Boxster in comparisons when it came out. I think if it had been priced $10k higher and added $500-1000 in the interior goodies it would have sold far better.

    As it was price consious buyers got a Miata and presitge buyers didn’t take a $30k sports car seriously. Might have had to go Acura on the badge.

    Ito san, here is the plan.

    3 cars.

    1. Miata killer with one of your great engine gearbox combos. Keep it under 25k.
    2. Throw one of your revy V-6s some red meat and make something that will thrash a boxster. 40-45k. Convertible.
    3. Build a new NSX, do like you did with the NSX, build a Ferrari with the reliability of…well, a Honda and costing about 50k less.

    I live near a racetrack and will be happy to test and give feedback on any prototypes.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Can’t Honda just buy Lotus already? If ever there was a match made in heaven… just imagine the Elise/Exige with the 2.2 out of the S2000 and some typical Honda creature comforts. Talk about your Cayman-killer.

  • avatar
    autonut

    1. Take the gorgeous body in the picture above.
    2. take out the old V6
    3. put in a new V6 with turbo(s) and 400 ponies
    4. improve brakes
    5. Price on-par with GT-R
    6. Count sales

  • avatar
    ConejoZing

    Ah Honda. It is a conflicted company now. Does it want to act like a wannabe Toyota? Or does it need to act completely strange? Or does it need to drop the price on everything to get back where it used to be (where Hyundai/Kia is now)? Does it go way upmarket with Acura?

    What to do? What to do..?

    Just an idea… get back to basics. I like my 92 Accord. Really, it is not a supercar, but it’s pretty fun. I like the design of it. So simple and Japanese… not the like the new “Startrek convention” nerd designs. All I have to do is sit in some of those new Honda interiors to think “I miss the 92 Accord.”

    Just make simple, nice little Japanese cars. Don’t try and be Toyota. Have those little revvy Honda engines. Maybe have a cheap little new NSX in limited numbers. Make the interiors nice, simple, classic, yet modern. Simple, lightweight, high revs.

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    Lets not forget we are aloud to strap twin turbos to an engine and have it rated at the same MPG AND call it green these days…

    If I had my say, I’d say bring back the Del Sol. Wonderful car, and it would be even better with turbos from the factory on it.

    2011 Honda Del Sol SI-R Mugen Twin Turbo

    oh ya and AWD too :) gonna need it!

  • avatar
    akitadog

    All Honda needs to do is finish what they started.

  • avatar
    James2

    @SherbornSean

    I doubt Honda would ever entertain buying Lotus, as logical as that might sound.

    I think Honda’s recent Formula One experience is symbolic of the company’s malaise. They get out, Ross Brawn picks up the leftovers for a song, and two (Mercedes-powered) world championships later…

  • avatar
    carguy

    Super cars are yesterday’s news. Back in the 70s and 80s they were breaking new ground but now seemingly any auto entrepreneur is able to put them together from crate engines and parts. Where is the engineering challenge to build a car that costs $400K? The challenge is to build one that is affordable and fun to drive. Honda should stay away from making super cars and as well as well as from the Miata’s traditional $20-$30K market (many have tried and failed).

    Something in the realm of $35-$45K that is a showcase for their chassis and engine technology. Possibly an evolution of the S2000 chassis but with a more innovative drive train. More BMW EfficientDynamics concept than old school racer.

  • avatar
    gossard267

    In my opinion, the big opening right now is for a competitor, especially a Japanese competitor, in the Corvette space. Recession aside, $50k is a price point that I think represents a comfortable aspiration for most middle class buyers. In other words, it’s the place where they say, ‘Hey, someday, after the kids are in (or done with) college, I could maybe swing that…’ The competition here is basically just the Vette and the Boxster/Cayman.

    So, Honda’s offering needs to do a few things well. First, it needs to maintain brand markers, like lightness and high-revving engines. A four cylinder would be cool, though it may be best for marketing reasons to stick with a six. Preferably, it should go for a soundtrack that is best described as ‘screaming’. Almost Ferrari-like…anything but American V8 or Porsche six.

    Next, it needs to look masculine while still avoiding even a whiff of white-trash, gold-chain, etc. The goal here is to pick up buyers who don’t go in for the metrosexual euro-trash look, but also can’t see themselves in a Vette, on account of its own stereotypes. I imagine the kind of buyer who currently drives a G37 coupe, but wants a real, hard-core sports car now.

    It should at least offer a top-notch AWD system. Neither Porsche nor Chevy do, and it would be a big opening. Honda built its brand on FWD cars, so there is no need for RWD, though certainly it could be a choice.

    Finally, this car HAS TO BE dead reliable. One of the biggest selling points of the S2000 was how bullet-proof the car was, in stark contrast with grenading Boxster engines. This is crucial, because, again, we are targeting buyers for whom this is a bit of a stretch, buyers who simply lack the kind of unlimited bank roll needed to stare a $12k engine replacement in the face and shrug.

    I guess I’m sort of picturing a ‘weaker’, de-contented, but also significantly lighter and simpler, GT-R at a base Vette price point.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    LOL, those bitches can’t be serious…

    Really, they canned the next gen NSX last year because… well, they found themselves suddenly to be ecologists. Ahh… and the financial crisis.

    And now he’s jealous?. Gafo.

    Comparing the FCX with the LF-A is… there are no PC works to put it.

    akitadog: +1

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    How about bringing back the Honda Beat? A petite affordable MR roadster, but this time perhaps a couple sizes larger than a Kei car. Honda can make a hybrid out of it, so electric AWD would be possible.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Here’s the Honda SuperCar: the Super Hybrid…

    A compact, VFR-1200 derived generator which puts out 80 kW+ of power. (its a 150hp motor, assume some efficiency losses here, but should be a total package well under 300lbs)

    A high performance electric motor/generator setup on all 4 wheels which are rated at 100 kW/wheel, for a peak total of 500 hp.

    And a supercapacitor bank which can store and sink power at 320 kW, and can store up to 10 seconds total power (so less than 1 kWh total capacity). Which is bulky but light.

    All in a carbon fiber/unobtanium chassis if you want LFA pricing, in an elise-like glued aluminum chassis if you want Tesla-level pricing…

    Now you get REALLY fancy with the electronic controls: You use differential torque to the wheels to aid in steering (SH-AWD style). So no oversteer, no understeer, the computer just shoves the power out necessary to make the car go where you want it.

    And then, under braking your dump the energy back into the capacitors, and you keep the generator basically running full bore all the time the capacitors are not quite full.

    The result: On the highway, it cruises with the generator going on and off, but gets great mileage. Put in some active noise cancelling motor mounts and the like, or a noisemaker so you still get “engine noise” as the generator puless on and off.

    And at any time, you can put the hammer down and get 500hp super-car acceleration for 10 seconds.

    On the track or backroads it becomes devastating. You may have “only” 140 hp of sustained energy output from the car, but thats averaged out over the entire time. So you go rocketing from 100-50 into a turn, and rather than wasting all that energy in the brakes, it is now available to go rocketing back to 100 as you exit…

    Now THAT would be a Honda supercar. A true technological terror flagship which would give devastating performance AND be a very honda statement: A car with nearly the gas mileage of a Pious, but devistatingly fast.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    1) Buy the MR2 Spyder tooling from Toyota. All it needs is in-seat side-airbags and re-inforcements here-and-there to be as good as any oher modern platform, and hey, we’re all friends in Japan.

    2) Put the CR-Z drivetrain in it.

    3) Have a mid-engine six-speed hybrid for <$30K.

    Why not the S2000? Because it's heavier, less interesting, and doesn't work with Honda's transverse drivetrains.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    They should make a sports car with a diesel engine, like Audi’s LeMans cars. Then they can advertise that their new supercar (the DSX?) uses no gasoline whatsoever.

  • avatar

    As a a previous Honda S2000 owner, I loved that car. it was definitely more fun to drive than a Miata or Z4.

    Only driven an NSX once. I will own one of those some day. Gorgeous design and a lot of fun.

    With that said, Honda needs to stop ghettoing up their current offerings, like the TL and Civic, with BS sport-upgrades that are a god damn joke. Those vehicles have no use for that power *ahem* and aren’t anything more than a my-cock-is-bigger statement.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I would like to see Honda throw their hat into the $20k, 2500lb, 170hp, RWD hardtop. Don’t compete with the Miata by being a vert. Beat it by being a better sports car. Basically, a Honda version of the Toyobaru coupe.

    Their biggest problem is the fact that they don’t have a RWD chassis to build the vehicle on.

  • avatar
    carve

    I really like Nicholas Weaver’s idea. Maybe the motor could be a V-8 made of two of their bigger crotch-rocket engines.

    What might be really cool would be a dual-engine concept.

    A small (figure 400 cc) motorcycle engine in the front, charging ultra capacitors, powering the front wheels via electric motors. This motor is powerful enough to maintain 80 mph up a 6% grade. That is probably the highest speed/gradient combo you’ll find in the US, so as far as the EPA is concerned, this is the engine.

    In the rear…you’ll have that screamer of a 2 or 3 liter V-8….completely uncorked. Little to no concern for fuel efficiency, emissions, or driveability- a race-car engine, hooked to a dual-clutch transmission. Pay a pittance of attention to noise…quiet enough to not raise the eyebrows of too many cops on the road, but just barely. The cooling system of the small, primary motor will be connected to this big motor to keep it constantly warmed up.

    So, now you have an AWD race car that can recover a huge % of it’s braking energy, gets maybe 45 mpg on the street, and drives like a friggen race car on the…ehhhmmm…track ;) You’ll have your green cred and street cred with a street-legal race car with econo-box efficiency. Most of the engine hardware will be based on motorcycle parts for both engines, making it relatively cheap for a new engine (espeically since the secondary motor doesn’t need all those expensive certifications and comprimises).

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Carve: you don’t need two engines, you only need one. Thats the key: By using the ultracapacitor bank as an energy store (~10 seconds of 500hp), you can get away with a low power engine (lets face it, 120+hp is just fine for climbing hills in a real car), but still have the blistering-fast acceleration when you want it.

  • avatar
    carve

    Nicholas: True- & that’d be find for a sport/luxury car, but a true sports car will need to have full power available for more than 10 seconds at a squirt. Additional advantages would be…

    -The small motor can be REALLY small, minimizing pumping losses and maximizing efficiency
    -The big motor can be direct-drive to the wheels, which is more mechanically efficient and, in most peoples opinions, more sporty/fun
    -The combo allows the back motor to be an “unofficial” piece of the car- it can be a no-holds-barred race engine. The car can even be sold with some minor piece disconnected or missing (e.g. no gournding strap? Capped fuel line?) to get it by the feds.

    But yeah…I’d totally trade in my 335i for an efficient-dynamics type drivetrain. Just not in a full-on sports car.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    carve: Then double the ultracapacitor bank to 2 kWh, and you get 20 seconds.

    500 hp is a CRAPLOAD of power to put to the wheels for 20 seconds.

  • avatar
    carve

    If they could, say, lap the nurbergring flat out, determine the median power output & amount of time max-power is called for, and subtract the amount of power they could recover regeneratively, and then size the motor to produce that much power continously, then it’d be OK. I don’t see that happening for quite a while though. It’s important that the amount of power available be predictable, and unless it can be run flat-out continously it’ll get crap reviews. For now, it’d be better to size the engine for cruising and for providing a little AWD boost & energy recovery, and then reap the benefits I mentioned above on top of that.

    I love bench-racing and fantasy engineering :)

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Turbobeetle +1.

    Honda should take the Ford approach and use twin turbos as a green marketing ploy. I think a small displacement high revving V8 (preferably made from 2 4 cyl motorcycle engines stuck together and with a 10,000 rpm redline) turbo’d to around 500 hp would be nice and likely much more fuel efficient that a comparable Ferrari V12.

    Then put that engine in a lightweight (<3000lbs), mid engine, rwd platform that is more Europa sized than Exige sized and with present but minimal comfort and luxury touches, ie. leather wrapped racing seats. Also, the intentional omission of techno geewizzery would actually be proof of technical mastery, IMHO.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I’m was hyped about the styling and interior of the CR-Z, but recent news has brought me down. If you look at the dimensions, it’s basically the same size as a Fit (a little bit shorter, a little bit wider). And it has the same torsion beam rear suspension as the Insight (and Fit?). I can’t see it handling any better than a Fit (it has to haul a battery pack as well which the Fit doesn’t). For power you get the Fit’s 1.5l and some battery assistance. Target price? 20k+. Honda is saying that they are set on making this Hybrid only (the bastards). You can forget about them putting a K20 into an Si version, or just making a nice affordable one with the straight 1.5. So it’s a 2seater (North America only gets a 2seat version) that doesn’t have much performance and costs about as much as a Civic Si. The fuel economy will be nice, but judging from the Insight’s IMA system (which uses a smaller engine) it’s not going to match the Prius.

    Honda: Put a straight ICE in this thing, you hear me? We used to drive around in fun, high revving, sporty cars, and now all you care about is green cred. It’s like I don’t even KNOW you, man.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    I am a long term Honda buyer and owner. They make an excellent product. What I want from Honda is lightweight (relatively anyway) well engineered vehicles that are roomy, fun to drive, reliable and economical to run. I presently have four Honda cars in the family, all bought new and all for the above reasons.

    I’d say that Honda would be well advised to keep on that formula.

  • avatar
    wsn

    S2000 is the car they need. It was only a little bit too hardcore.

    Let me do the math here. Out of 100 sports car buyers, 70 won’t consider a standard (just look at 3-series). Out of the remaining 30, 20 won’t consider a convertible. Out of the remaining 10, 5 would prefer more power than the S2000.

    Let the car appeal to all 100 of them is the key.

    Make the S2000 a fix-top. Besides the 6MT, offer a 6 speed auto or CVT (CVT is fine because the engine torque is low). Increase the power by 100hp (direct injection and larger displacement).

    And look at the sales. It’s been improved by 1900%

  • avatar
    Via Nocturna

    @wsn

    I like all of those ideas. Honda should definitely give us a new S2000, but give it a much broader range of models. They should take a page from what Porsche has done with the 911. The trims and packages in that car radically change its personality, from a cushy Carrera 4S to extreme track cars like the GT3 RS. I agree that the S2000 should be offered with an automatic or CVT (sorry, purists, but you can’t argue with sales) as well as a hardtop coupe.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I can’t take this guy seriously, so it seems like empty words to satisfy an interview.

    The reason is the bloat. Yes, I’m talking about what Honda has done recently, not what they were known for in the past. The Accord and its ridiculous size and weight was the death knell for this Company. Now they have a “culture” that they have to reverse, and they have to prove they have the engineering expertise NOW to know how to reduce weight without losing anything! That’s the first baby step to reversing it, and if they can’t do that then they aren’t capable of making a sports car (or even regaining their competitive position). The next step is to fire some designers, starting with the grill “shield” designers.

    Its a serious problem they have. Looking at Honda and Acura monthly comparative sales to the same month a year ago, for most months this year, finds them at or near the bottom of the pile of manufacturers.

  • avatar
    George B

    As others have said the “green” Honda sports car needs to be as light weight as possible. Rather than adding the weight of batteries for a hybrid, I’d focus on reducing all loads on the engine that don’t move the car forward. I like the idea of something like a S2000 coupe with a fixed roof for greater body stiffness and lighter weight. To maximize both greenness and performance street cred, maybe Honda could make this performance coupe both turbocharged and E-85 flex-fuel capable with the ability to greatly increase boost pressure when running the higher octane E-85. Let the EPA test the stock Honda in “green” maximum mpg tuning, but make the engine, transmission, differential, etc. strong enough for abusive aftermarket performance tuning.

  • avatar
    spyspeed

    The world doesn’t need another ragtop. How about a CR-Z-based Del Sol with a V6 and AWD?

  • avatar
    davejay

    Assuming the price point you set, it’ll simply be an all-electric sports car that has fantastic handling (which the Tesla does not) and performance, likely by virtue of (a) much lighter batteries that will make up the majority of price difference between the Tesla and the maximum price point allowed here, and (b) they know how to make strong transmissions, so it’ll be able to leverage the torque in the electric motor at relatively low motor speeds by virtue of having many, many forward gears — thus massively extending the range and giving people something to shift.

  • avatar
    meefer

    Basically just re-make the NSX, but price it down to Cayman-ish levels. Use steel or aluminum instead of titanium, an existing engine (TL-S or RDX opened up a bit). Just replace the seats from the original interior and update the electronics. Stick the engine shut off at idle tech (stop-n-blah) on it and call it green if you have to.

    Hell even 8 year old NSXs are still going for $50K, Honda you surely can decontent an NSX to near this price point! Don’t change the styling, anything. Let me give you my money instead of to some used car dealer!

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Honda needs to throw a nice environmentally friendly cat on a cbr1000rr and call it a day.

    I have been eagerly awaiting bikes with better emissions for a while…..hopefully Honda can lead here!

  • avatar
    tedward

    I liked the S2000, and wsn is right, they lost customers by having 1. no torque…it’s not quirky at $35k, it’s a fault 2. only a ragtop 3. no automatic (sigh, but your right about that). I was recently talking to a Honda dealer about this and he swore up and down that when Honda does another sports car it would have an auto, largely due to dealer bitching.

    Frankly I don’t know why they needed to completely scrap the S2000, the chassis was great, the suspension and steering fantastic. All they need is a new exterior design and either forced induction or direct injection (go for both so as not to be laughed at by GTI and Cobalt SS owners). They neglected that powertrain to the point where a Mugen si is more usably quick than Honda’s sports car, and that’s just not right.

    The NSX was and is too expensive to do Honda’s image real justice, leave the heavy, expensive stuff to Toyota.

  • avatar
    Dorian666

    No matter what Honda will do , the styling department will deliver a car grille based on this
    http://www.hagerty.com/NewsManager/articlefiles/1011-Tow-Mater-2.jpg.

    The hesitation for a NSX replacement , the hesitation for a V8 RL, the F1 team cold feet and bail, speak to a conservative group think management style.

    Honda is turning into a competent but bland multinational.

    All Hail the next Toyota..

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    Honda simply does not know how to build a sports car. They have no soul. Milquetoast and boring is the best they can muster.

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    The NSX was a dud. Poorest resale of any sports car. Aluminum body and a V6. Poor.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    If Ford can spin twin turbo into EcoBoost and Ferrari call the 458 Italia it’s most environmentally responsible car because it gets 20 mpg and has direct fuel injection, Honda can spin anything they want out of it. Changes to VTEC for higher efficiency, variable vane turbos, lighweight plastic body panels that are recyclable, etc.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    These global warming types are nut cases!

    Yes, the earth is getting warmer. No, CO2 levels (currently @ 380ppm vs. a historic high of 4,500ppm) are not the cause. But they’ll ruin Honda over it and Mr. Hope will cap and trade our economy to permanent depression because of it. Oh! Wait, then the gummint would have to control everything and that’s what they want…

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/GlobWarmTest/start.html

  • avatar
    DearS

    Civic and Integra type Rs have been great cars. Honda can offer those first. An Aluminum one sounds pretty cool.

    Maybe Honda can do a really high revving V6, seems like nobody has one. 350hp 3.2lt perhaps. in a 3000lb body. No one has that. Even the LF-A is 300hps heavier. the C6 too numb, the Cayman weaker, and 911 complicated. Honda offers practical and down to earth great sports cars. An 8000rpm V6 car is that to me. Public may not agree though.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Honda’s forte has always been simple, reliable cars whose fun and efficiency was baked-in rather than bolted-on.

    Its future does not lie in exotics or hybrids, or in outselling Toyota. It does not lie in overpriced Mini-wannabe Fits, Star Wars Civics, bloated V6 Accords, or Chrysleresque interiors like that craptacular Odyssey we rented last weekend.

    Honda needs to think back to its cheap ‘n cheerful days. If the Hyundai Accent and new 4-cylinder-only Sonata can be inspired by 1980s Honda, maybe future Hondas can too.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Can’t Honda just buy Lotus already? If ever there was a match made in heaven… just imagine the Elise/Exige with the 2.2 out of the S2000

    I think Lotus are very happy with Toyota who already know how to build an engine every bit as good as Honda.

    Otherwise, the car you might be looking for is the Ariel Atom.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    DearS :
    October 24th, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Civic and Integra type Rs have been great cars. Honda can offer those first. An Aluminum one sounds pretty cool.

    Maybe Honda can do a really high revving V6, seems like nobody has one. 350hp 3.2lt perhaps. in a 3000lb body. No one has that. Even the LF-A is 300hps heavier. the C6 too numb, the Cayman weaker, and 911 complicated. Honda offers practical and down to earth great sports cars. An 8000rpm V6 car is that to me. Public may not agree though.

    My car’s close–3200-3300 ish lbs, V6, 3.5L, ECU tune bumped the rev limiter up to 8000, RWD, two seats and a six speed.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Ha! Environmentally responsible? They’re building a business jet! Even though it’s efficient for a business jet, we’re still talking about something that will probably only get about an equivalent of 7 mpg.

  • avatar
    happy-cynic

    To answer the question:
    Yes they can, bring back the CRX!

  • avatar
    DearS

    Areitu-

    I Guess you have a 350Z, which is a good car. I wish Honda built sometime similar, but even more tactile, agile, nimble, and responsive. Not like the Nismo, a bit better. Kinda like an S2000 type R.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    robstar: Any bike that is EURO III or EURO IV is what you are looking for. Carb is similar. Its not quite car level, but its pretty darn close at this point.

    So just buy any new fuel injected bike in a 50 state model, and don’t change the exhaust or fuel map.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Nick Weaver>

    I have a FI suzuki from 2005. I’m guessing this is noew Euro III or IV due to age….?

    Btw: it is 100% stock except for swingarm spools I use to put it up during winter.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Honda was always a great engine builder, even when the cars were less than desirable. CVCC Civic anybody? They also were one of the best at keeping things light, at least until now. Today’s Accord in bordering on Avalon territory. My idea for Honda:

    1. Design smaller displacement, high tech, high revving engines…more or less like you have always done.
    2. Get the weight and size bloat under control.
    3. Don’t allow quality to erode, like Toyota has.
    4. Ditch the HDMI interface front grill and hire some real stylists.
    5. Green and fast can coexist based on 1 and 2 above. The NSX was really the right car, but at the wrong time. It was introduced when gas was cheap and America began its love affair with excessive automotive bloat. Price that car a bit better, even if it loses some of its trick aluminum. Style it better, too. It would sell to any open minded enthusiast.

  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    We have a 1999 Accord 4-door sedan and a 2008 Accord 4-door sedan, both of them a four cylinder with automatic, and so we are in a position to directly judge the relative merits of the two cars:

    — The 2008 and the 1999 both get about 31 mpg on the highway
    — The 2008 loses roughly 1 mpg in town; i.e., no practical difference with the 1999
    — The 2008 handles better and has better acceleration
    — The build quality and mechanical reliability of the 2008 is the same or better
    — The 2008 has more interior room, but a little less trunk space
    — The 2008’s driver ergonomics (seating, steering wheel, etc.) are better
    — The 2008’s passenger ergonomics are better
    — Both models have excessive road noise in comparison with their competitors
    — The 1999’s dash and instrumentation layout is decidedly easier to work with.

    As far as reliability and performance is concerned, the old and the new Accords are both what one should expect of a traditional Honda Accord.

    The esthetics of the 2008 are greatly different, of course. On the other hand, the designers have to differentiate their car from their competitors somehow, and this is how they have chosen to do it.

    The 2008 Accord may look bloated to some, in comparison with the 1999 model, but the actual performance of the 2008 doesn’t reflect this perception in any way that makes any practical difference.

    The esthetics of the 2008’s exterior grow on you after awhile. We have no issues with the exterior at all. It is just “different” in its own different way.

    On the other hand, we don’t like the 2008’s dash. The speedometer and tachometer are OK, but the rest of the panel is way too busy and too complicated.

    The goofus layout of the dash almost caused us to start looking at other maker’s cars, perhaps a Mazda 6 for example, even though the 2008 Accord seemed superior to our 1999 Accord in most respects.

    But in the end, we decided to stick with Honda because of their reputation for serving their customers well. They continue to do so with the 2008 Accord.

    What about a new design for a Honda sportscar?

    My personal ideal would be something along the lines of a Mazda RX-8 but with an advanced technology turbocharged four instead of the rotary.

    If Mazda dropped the rotary engine while still keeping the RX-8’s excellent handling characteristics, that’s what I would be driving as my day-to-day personal vehicle.

    But Mazda hasn’t, and apparently they won’t, so I have to look elsewhere.

    So far, I haven’t seen anything out there that meets my personal ideal for what a sportscar should be. Maybe Honda will come up with something. Or maybe they won’t. Whatever…

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Betablocker:

    Just think how your list would change if 700 pounds were engineered out of your ride. Appearance is in the eye of the beholder, but you could have equal performance for less fuel. Your would have better, more responsive handling, equal safety, and probably 90% of the interior space you have now.

    I do applaud Honda for keeping optional engines available. I, for one, like the performance of the bigger engines, but I do recognize those who do not. In fact, I’d be willing to bet there is a significant market for those who would prefer a “economy” engine and who purchasers would be perfectly happy with a 10 sec 0-60 time if it came with a good mileage boost. No doubt the auto press would say how pathetically slow the car is but for many, the mileage is more important.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Can Honda just build an rx-8 with a nice,high revving honda engine (prefer the v-6) for about 30k. Then I could finally get the affordable sports car I want.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Just looking at the NSX picture above, an interesting thought strikes me about Honda. The time period when NSX was made, between early 90s and 2000s, was roughly the time of highest point of Honda’s brand, in the sense of being on the edge of technology, design, and being one step ahead of most competitors. It’s been going mostly downhill since then.

    We can clearly perceive the following trends. Acura has decidedly gone downhill. The horrible recent design pattern, the insistence on FWD in many models, endless stream of pretty ordinary CUVs, the blandness of RL, etc. NSX got axed without a replacement. Nissan, Cadillac, and Lexus are now making successful quasi-supercars, some in former NSX price range, but Acura seems absent in that segment. Acura is simply not in the same league with Infinity and Lexus any more.

    Next, Honda itself is becoming less interesting compared to its competition. The Accord is still a good car, but it is hard not to think of “Camrification” of it. Big, bloated, expensive. Accord is not the only car suffering from this Camrification trend. Subaru and Mazda have also gone the same way. These days I find cars like Sonata, Fusion, or Malibu far more attractive than Accord.

    Odyssey, Fit, and Civic are arguably the only cars across Honda/Accord lineup that are still living up to its 1990s brand image.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    The CR-Z Hybrid really sounds like a good idea. I would have thought that Honda would have offered the same engines in the CR-Z as they do in the Civic, the 4-cylinder from the conventional Civic, and the more powerful engine from the Si. I would have thought they would drop right in. Maybe an Si version is coming down the road following the introduction of the Hybrid version.

    I’ve seen where hot rodders have dropped Si engines into heavily reworked versions of the original 2-seat Insight and they look pretty cool, like what Honda should have produced all along.

  • avatar
    Joseph

    Toyota already had a great idea for a ‘green’ sports car but never did anything with it (Toyota Volta). Honda could take that idea and actually put it into production.

    Hree is some info about it that can easily be found on the net:

    From the “tragically cool” department, check out Toyota Volta. The Volta uses a carbon-fiber body and seats three. In the case of Volta, the three people sit side-by-side—and get this—the “drive-by-wire” controls allow you to position the steering wheel and pedals in front any one of them.

    On the Volta, a 3.3 liter V6 gas engine is located behind the rear axle and is not connected directly to the wheels. Instead, movement is provided by two electric engines, one per axle, offering the safety benefits of all-wheel drive. But the real gain of packaging a large internal combustion engine with two electric motors is rip-roaring speed: a 408 horsepower hybrid drive that can achieve 0 – 60 acceleration in 4 seconds. Despite this level of power, the fuel economy will reportedly exceed 30 miles per gallon. At low speeds, any of those three drivers can switch manually to all-electric mode.

    Toyota partnered with the famed automotive design firm Italdesign-Giugiaro to create the Volta concept prototype. Italdesign-Giugiaro and Toyota were a good match in terms of technology and design, and at an historical level. The Volta draws its name from the Italian inventor Alessandro Volta, who invented the electric battery in 1800. Creating the hybrid concepts of the future wouldn’t be possible without the achievements of Count Volta. He certainly could never have imagined that his experiments with charges of electricity might help spark a revolution in transportation.


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