Auto blogTue, 13 May 2014 09:29:00 EST
Nine years separated the arrival of the original Acura NSX and the Honda S2000. By that time, the NSX was closer to the end of its fifteen-year production cycle than it was to its beginning. The latest word has it that not only is Honda planning a successor to the S2000, but it's not about to wait that long after the new NSX arrives before it's rolled out.
While the S2000 was a front-mid-engined roadster, its successor will, according to the latest from Auto Express (which we are taking with a grain of salt), be a mid-engined coupe - closer, in other words, to the NSX than the S2000. Power would come from a more potent version of the 2.0-liter turbo four developed for the upcoming new Civic Type R, possibly as part of a hybrid system derived from Honda's upcoming Formula One powertain to develop over 400 horsepower.
Whether the new sports car would revive the S2000 nameplate, and whether it would wear the Honda or Acura badge in the United States, remain to be seen. As does its potential production site: while the previous S2000 was built at the same Takanezawa plant in Tochigi as the original NSX, the new NSX will be built at the new Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio. The new S660 roadster, meanwhile, is set to be assembled at the same Yachiyo plant in Yokkaichi as the original Honda Beat.
The Acura NSX might be one of the most important Japanese cars ever created. The Land of the Rising Sun had already established that it could make very competent performance vehicles when the NSX debuted in 1989, but Honda's two-seater was the first one that looked to the world like a true contender against Ferrari and Porsche, thanks to its cutting-edge technology. The Acura had an all-aluminum monocoque chassis, a beautifully low-slung body and a quick-revving V6 with an 8,000-rpm redline. This quintessential Japanese sports coupe celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and Autoweek recognizes it in a fantastic piece chronicling the model's US launch.
The story begins in February 1989 at the Chicago Motor Show where the car debuted. The day before the show opened, the concept still didn't have a name. The Japanese development team referred to it as New Sports, and the American Acura executives decided to add eXperimental to the end. The moniker NSX just stuck afterwards.
The article paints a fantastic portrait of the car and the company at the time. Honda had something to prove with the NSX. To succeed, the coupe had to be the best, and when the American press finally got a hold of it, they drowned it in accolades. Of course, Acura has a new American-built NSX on the way, and it has colossal legacy to live up to. This piece is definitely worth reading to understand why.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is one of the greatest events on the international motorsports calendar. Its Unlimited class harkens back to the old days of racing, when teams built vehicles to be the fastest with whatever they had. Honda is returning to the event for 2014 for its second year as a sponsor and participant, and it's bringing some cool machines of its own.
The company is fielding seven entrants this year, which is somewhat smaller than last year. In 2013, it brought 11 factory-supported vehicles in 10 classes, including an insane Honda Odyssey with a 532-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine. There's no need to be too disappointed by the shorter list, though. Former 24 Hours of Le Mans-winner Romain Dumas is back piloting a Honda-powered Norma chassis up the hill in the Unlimited class. Dumas attempted to race the car last year, but it broke down during his run. Other competitors include an NSX (pictured above), Fit B-Spec and an S3700, which is an S2000 with a 3.7-liter V6 engine.
In its role as sponsor, Honda says it has also worked with the sanctioning body to add an AirFence safety barrier along some corners for the motorcycle and ATV riders. This year's Pikes Peak is being held on Sunday, June 29. Scroll down to read the full details about Honda's team and start getting excited for this year's running.
Last week in New York, Acura pulled the wraps off its all-new TLX sedan - a midsize model that replaces both the TSX and TL in one fell swoop. In a bit of behind-the-scenes full disclosure, we were originally scheduled to get our first drive of the car in early May. But an intrepid reader forwarded us an email to Acura dealers saying that the on-sale date of the TLX will be pushed back, and subsequently, the automaker confirmed to Autoblog that the official media launch has been postponed, as well. Acura spokesperson Chuck Schifsky tells us that the 2015 TLX will now go on sale later this summer.
"We don't view it as a major delay," Schifsky told Autoblog. The TLX is "the most technologically advanced Acura" yet - even more so than the original NSX, Schifsky says - and thus, there are "lots of systems to get sorted out." When asked if there is a specific component to point to regarding this delay, Schifsky told Autoblog that it's "not any one thing."
"We have determined that it is necessary to modify the production schedule for the 2015 TLX, which will move the on-sale date to late summer."
I'm confident in saying that the 2015 Acura TLX, revealed today at the New York Auto Show, will be a perfectly nice car to drive. It'll be nice to sit in, with plenty of luxurious amenities. It'll be... fine. And for Acura, "fine" is apparently good enough.
I say that because while the TLX is an all-new offering (it replaces both the TL and TSX), it hardly shakes up the Acura formula we've come to accept over the past few years. It looks like everything else in the automaker's lineup, complete with the neat LED headlamps and signature beaked grille. Power comes from either a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-four with 206 horsepower, or a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 hp - engines we've tested in countless other Honda/Acura products. The front-wheel-drive version uses the Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) from the RLX, and high-end V6 models use the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) that we've enjoyed across the rest of the Acura range. Really, there's nothing to write home about here, except maybe, how that power is sent to the wheels.
Acura is finally - finally - moving beyond the world of the six-speed transmission, offering a new eight-speed, dual-clutch gearbox with the 2.4-liter engine, and a swanky new nine-speed automatic with the 3.5-liter V6. This is arguably the biggest news surrounding the TLX, though do note, fuel economy hasn't vastly been improved in the process. The TLX 2.4 musters up 24 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg highway, while the front-drive V6 is rated at 21/34 mpg. Optioning for the V6 SH-AWD reduces things to 21/31 mpg.
Acura debuted its TLX GT racecar at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, and it looks like the racer is set to get its first competitive outing in Motown as well. The RealTime Racing team is competing with a single car driven by Peter Cunningham for the Pirelli World Challenge rounds during the Detroit Grand Prix from May 30 through June 1.
Honda Performance Development is developing the TLX GT with a direct-injected, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, based on the production, naturally aspirated version, and all-wheel drive helps maintain traction. A second car is being added to the effort later.
The turbocharged Acura sedan will face competition in the series from vehicles like the Audi R8 LMS, Cadillac CTS-V, Dodge Viper, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 and more. With the Detroit Grand Prix hosting the sixth and seventh races in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class schedule, it doesn't seem that Acura is expecting to win the series in its debut season, but it will surely gain valuable experience.
Japanese automakers manufacturing in the United States is nothing new. But it was in November of 1982 when the first Honda Accord rolled off the assembly line in Marysville, OH. It was the first Japanese vehicle assembled in the US, and in the nearly 32 years since, Honda has made 10 million Accords here for a total of 20 million cars manufactured in America - enough to span from New York to San Francisco twenty times. It's that double landmark which Honda is now celebrating.
Honda has come a long way in those three decades, keeping that original plant in Marysville on line while expanding to three more - in East Liberty, OH; Lincoln, AL; and Greensburg, IN - with a fifth plant (the Performance Manufacturing Center) opening on the same site in Marysville to build the Acura NSX next year. It also builds engines in Lincoln and in Anna, OH, and automatic transmissions at Russells Point, OH, and Tallapoosa, GA.
Between those seven sites, Honda produces 11 different models, including the Accord, Civic, Crosstour, CR-V, Pilot, Odyssey and Ridgeline as well as the Acura ILX, TL, RDX and MDX. Production keeps on ramping up as Honda produced a record 1.3 million vehicles in the US last year, 95 percent of which are sold in the US. Scope out the details in the press release below and click the image above to see it all laid out in a handy infographic.
Acura has announced that the 2014 New York Auto Show will see the arrival of the production TLX - the sedan that will replace both the TL and TSX in the company's lineup. The TLX was already previewed at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show as a near-production concept model, meaning we already have a very solid idea of what the 2015 model will look like.
What we didn't know, was that Acura has finally gotten on board with some advanced powertrains, rather than just plucking stuff from the Honda parts bin. Okay, that's kind of a lie. We've seen both of the TLX's engines in previous Honda products - a 2.4-liter, VTEC four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter VTEC V6 from the Civic Si and Accord, respectively - but the transmissions will be totally new.
First, an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic will be paired with the base four-pot. The V6, meanwhile, will get a nine-speed automatic. Unfortunately, there's no mention of a manual gearbox. Acura's Precision All-Wheel Steer will be standard on the front-drive variants for both engines, while the 3.5-liter V6 will also be available with the brand's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.
We often mock Toyota for building boring, soulless cars, but a new study by Consumer Reports suggests that regardless of whether that's true, the company has some of the best used cars on the market. In its report on used cars from 2004-2013, the Japanese automaker had 11 vehicles among its brands on the list - more than any other automaker.
CR breaks the list down by cost and vehicle size, and Toyota has at least one entry at every price point and in nearly every segment. To score a recommendation, a vehicle had to perform well in the magazine's initial tests and score above-average reliability results. It also tried to only suggest cars with electronic stability control. Of the 28 recommended vehicles, Honda/Acura had the second most mentions at six, and Ford, Hyundai and Subaru managed two each.
The Detroit brands also made it to the list, but not in a positive way. Consumer Reports compiled a list of 22 vehicles it wouldn't recommend because "they have multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability." General Motors had the most unrecommended models on the list at six, but Chrysler and Ford weren't far behind, with five cars each from their brands not making the grade. The full list of recommendations is available on CR's website.
Every major automaker has a different way of relating between its various divisions and brands. At Volkswagen, for example, the individual brands seem to operate with a large degree of autonomy. Under the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the two units share a common chief executive, but little else. The relationship between Honda and its luxury division Acura has always been rather close, but that's all about to change.
American Honda Motor Company has always handled sales and marketing in the North American market for both the Honda and Acura divisions, but new reorganization plans call for the two units to be separated under their own direction. Leading the Acura division will be Michael Accavitti, who moves into the position from his role as Senior Vice President for Auto Operations at American Honda. The Honda division will meanwhile be taken over by the current head of Acura sales, Jeff Conrad.
Both will report to John Mendel, the current executive vice president of the Automobile Sales Division that is being rebranded as the American Honda Auto Division. Unlike rivals Lexus and Infiniti - two brands that Acura beat to the market - Honda barely markets its luxury brand outside of North America. Its overseas presence is felt only in China, though we've yet to receive word on how the reorganization might effect that market - or for that matter, any potential of expanding into others.