Auto blogWed, 05 Nov 2014 11:30:00 EST
Honda is displaying a heap of customized Fit hatchbacks at this week's SEMA in Las Vegas. Nine of the modded little econoboxes are on the floor showing off wildly divergent takes on the Japanese automaker's most affordable offering. The company has reason to celebrate the new vehicle, too, because it's been dubbed this year's "Hottest Sport Compact" award at the event.
Six of the custom Fits come from a contest that Honda ran online challenging various tuners to come up with their own take on the new model. People could then follow along online as Tjin Edition, Bisimoto Engineering, Kontrabrands, MAD Industries, Spoon Sports USA and Kenny Vinces worked on the cars. In the end, the version from Tjin (pictured above) with its subdued green paint, huge fender flares and ground-hugging stance was named the fan favorite.
In addition to those cars, Honda also has three other modded Fits on display. Honda Performance Development is showing off one in full B-spec racer trim, Honda Genuine Accessories has an example displaying all of its dealer-installed parts, and there's another model tuned by Bisimoto, as well.
Each and every year, the world's biggest motorcycle manufacturers gather together in Milan, Italy to show off the latest and greatest machinery that will soon be offered to dealerships the world over. It's called EICMA (Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori), and this year's crop of new motorcycles is just as exciting as ever.
We've selected five of the coolest motorcycles shown at this week's show, including models from Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda and Yamaha. Join us down below for a high-performance, two-wheeled Italian journey.
Okay Honda, you've won the Internet for the week. This cool "double-sided" video, featuring the new Civic and Civic Type R Concept, is one of the more interesting YouTube spots we've seen.
On the surface, "The Other Side" shows a regular dad, simply going about his day and picking his daughter's up from school. But press the "R" key while watching the video, and it transitions into an alternate video. The dad is now in a Civic Type R Concept, and he's not on the school run. Instead, he's involved in something... a bit more devious.
We won't spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, you'll want to watch this video through to its conclusion. Also, because of the unique nature of this video, we can't embed it here, so you'll need to hop over to Honda's UK YouTube channel.
Developing a new vehicle is not without its complications, we're sure, but usually things follow a fairly predictable progression: you develop a prototype, you test it, test it and test it again, then you put it into production. What you don't expect is that your prototype will burn to the ground, but that's what famously happened to the NSX which Honda engineers were testing a few months ago.
Fortunately, the Acura NSX prototype is back on track, both literally and figuratively, as you can see from this latest batch of spy shots snapped at the Nürburgring. This camouflaged prototype looks pretty much the same as the last one, only, you know... less crispy. Which is to say, it looks pretty much ready to hit showrooms.
The naysayers may point out that Honda chose colder and damper weather to put the NSX back into testing - thereby mitigating the risk of another fire - but we're sure the Japanese automaker has been working hard to fix the flammability issues, whatever may have caused them, over the past few months. At least, we hope they have.
The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey (right) is out, and the top two spots look much the same as last year's list with Lexus and Toyota in first and second place, respectively. However, there are some major shakeups for 2014, with Acura plunging eight spots from third in 2013 to 11th this year, and Mazda replaces it on the lowest step of the podium. Honda and Audi round out the top five. This year's list includes six Japanese brands in the top 10, two Europeans, one America and one Korean.
Acura isn't the only one taking a tumble, though. Infiniti is the biggest loser this year by dropping 14 spots to 20th place. Other big losses come from Mercedes-Benz with an 11-place fall to 24th, and GMC, which declines 10 positions to 19th.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's not traditional mechanical bugs hauling down these automaker's reliability scores. Instead, pesky problems with infotainment systems are taking a series toll on the rankings. According to Consumer Reports, complaints about "in-car electronics" were the most grumbled about element in new cars. Problem areas included things like unresponsive touchscreens, issues pairing phones and multi-use controllers that refused to work right.
Honda is getting ready to launch a new advertising campaign with Fred Savage of The Wonder Years (and The Princess Bride) fame, and in order to get his voice in game shape, Savage is taking to social media to get prepared. More specifically, he's apparently interested in adding some voiceover to fun videos provided by fans of the Honda brand, and all you have to do to be considered is to get his attention on Twitter using the hashtag #HondaPromo.
We have no idea how Savage or the Honda PR team plans to choose which videos will be turned into narrated works of art, but we do think it's a pretty fun idea. So, if you happen to have a video that could use some narration, and you think Savage would provide the perfect pitch, hit him up. Oh, be sure to read the terms and conditions first.
Swedish auto magazine Teknikens Värld has never been afraid to call out automakers when a vehicle fails one of its battery of examinations. Its famous Moose Test recently caught the Porsche Macan out, and a few years ago, there was a protracted argument between Teknikens Värld and Jeep over the performance of a Grand Cherokee in that evaluation.
This time, the 2015 Honda CR-V is raising the magazine's hackles, but it has nothing to do with avoiding a giant mammal. Snow is obviously an issue in Sweden, and Teknikens Värld has a test that challenges all-wheel drive systems in low-traction settings. On a slanted surface, the Swedes put the vehicles' front wheels on rollers with no traction and demands the rears accelerate away. The Honda couldn't do it. Teknikens Värld claims that it initially found the same result last year from the European CR-V, but Honda Sweden put out a software upgrade correcting the behavior in the test. This year, the CUV went back to failing.
While that's the magazine's side, Honda Sweden doesn't see the test as fair. In a statement to Teknikens Värld, the company explains the way the CUV's all-wheel drive system works. It also claims that the test isn't simulating a realistic situation. "In real conditions, regardless of the surface, there is a certain amount of friction always available for both front and rear wheels," the announcement says. "A scenario like the roll test with such a high difference in grip between the front and the rear wheels is highly unlikely."
Generally, the best policy in life is to admit when you're wrong and just accept the consequences. However, that attitude generally seems to be a bit less common in the world of business - at least without some government or legal prodding. So, it's especially surprising to learn that top Honda executives in Japan are taking a pay cut for the next three months following the fifth recall of the Fit Hybrid (pictured above) in the last 12 months.
According to Reuters, Chief Executive Takanobu Ito is taking a 20-percent pay cut to make amends for the quality issues. Also, 12 other high-ranking executives are taking 10 percent drops in their salaries. In addition to those temporary changes, Honda is creating a new position in charge of monitoring vehicle quality.
The latest recall fixes "noise-related defects," according to Reuters, on both the hybrid and naturally aspirated versions of the Fit, both variants of the Vezel (the sibling to the future HR-V in the US) and the N-WGN. There have also been three recalls for problems with the hybrid's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. None of them have caused reported injuries or deaths, and these issues haven't affected US models.
Honda has built two Accords for many years. There's the one we're familiar with here in the United States, and then there's the Accord sold in markets like Europe and Australia, known here in the US as the Acura TSX. But just like Acura did with the TSX, the Euro-market Accord has been discontinued.
The news comes from The Motor Report in Australia, which is reporting that the Accord Euro will be discontinued in 2015. Sold Down Under alongside the US-market model, the discontinuation of the Aussie car indicates an end to Honda's midsize sedan efforts in Europe, where there is no obvious replacement for the four-door and wagon models.
According to TMR, Honda Australia Director Stephen Collins indicated that focus will be placed instead on the US market "wide-body" model, as it's known. That said, this decision doesn't sound like it's sitting too well in Oz.
Unfortunately, the government's list still contains errors.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued an updated list of vehicle models that it's urging owners to repair under the mushrooming Takata airbag inflator recall. The latest version adds vehicles from new automakers like Subaru and Ford that are missing from the original announcement, and it also removes erroneous entries from General Motors, leaving only the 2005 Saab 9-2X (a reskinned Subaru WRX), and the 2003-2005 Pontiac Vibe, a joint project with Toyota.