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Honda Jazz looks like a good fit for Paris

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:28:00 EST

The quirky, utilitarian little hatchback that we know as the Honda Fit in the US carries the more melodious Jazz name in Europe. And while the newest Fit is already on sale in our market, folks are still waiting for it across the pond. Honda is unveiling its new Jazz Prototype to the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October, and it's nearly identical to what is currently on sale in North America. In fact, it's hard to image Honda changing much from this "prototype" before launching it for Europeans.
The Jazz's design is exactly what you would expect after even a glance at the current North American Fit. Except for a different wing at the rear, a shark fin antenna and a new set of wheels, this Jazz plays the same tune we've heard before.
The one thing keeping the Fit and Jazz from truly being identical siblings is that the European model packs Honda's new 1.3-liter i-VTEC Earth Dreams engine under the hood, rather than the 1.5-liter used in North America. But just like our Fit, the Jazz will be available with a six-speed manual or CVT. The Japanese automaker says that the Jazz goes on sale in the summer of 2015. Scroll down to read the company's announcement for its upcoming hatch.

Honda reveals XR-V crossover in Chengdu

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 10:01:00 EST

Global automakers have been moving largely towards global products, but that doesn't mean it can't tweak them for local tastes. Take Honda, for example, and its new compact crossover. Unveiled late last year as the Vezel, the crossover is expected to arrive in Europe and North America as the HR-V. But in China, it's being called the XR-V and adopts the form you see here.
Presented by Dongfeng Honda at the Chengdu Motor Show, the new XR-V is based closely on the Vezel but adopts some unique bodywork for a more rugged look. The front end gets a more SUV-like grille and bumper, while the side flanks are less swoopy but with more muscular wheel arches. The result may not be as bonkers as the Mugen version that debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon tuner show, but reminds us more of the similarly named and ruggedized Subaru XV Crosstrek.
Though technically billed as a concept, the Chinese-market XR-V looks just about ready for production as it is. Both 1.5- and 1.8-liter engines are specified, and while there may not be a wealth of other details available, you can read what there is in the press release (presented in original and translated forms) below.

Glickenhaus's SCG 003 to pack twin-turbo Honda V6?

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:00:00 EST

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has made (or commissioned) two vehicles to date - the P4/5 and the P4/5 Competizione - and is now hard at work on its third. The first was based on the Ferrari Enzo and the second on a Ferrari F430, but the third is being developed independently from the ground up. The question, then, is what engine will it use?
Well now we may have our answer as Jalopnik reports that the SCG 003 (as it's known at the moment) will be powered by a 3.5-liter V6 sourced from Honda, fitted with twin turbochargers and producing in excess of 500 horsepower.
Honda's J35Y engine produces 278 horsepower in the Accord, 290 hp in the Acura MDX and 310 hp in the RLX. It also forms the basis for the HR35TT racing engine which Honda Performance Development puts in its Daytona Prototype, so if the rumors turn out to be true, chances are that's probably the engine in question - with the possible addition of a hybrid electric assist - but we'll have to sit tight to find out for sure.

Honda exec says US market near capacity, could hurt subprime buyers

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:28:00 EST

Is there a point in the US auto industry where companies should start considering the welfare of their customers ahead of selling more cars? American Honda Executive Vice President of Sales John Mendel thinks that level exists, and we may be getting very close to it.
According to Automotive News, Mendel believes that finding more customers in the market could require pursuing subprime buyers and offering longer-term loans. However, he refuses to use those tactics. While selling models this way can improve things briefly, the strategies hurt resale prices and lower vehicle profits over time. The company won't do "stupid things in the short-term that damage the person who bought yesterday," he said to Automotive News. "It's a very, very short-term tactic especially in the subprime area."
American Honda, which combines the Acura and Honda brands, has seen market share decline from 9.7 percent to 9.1 percent through July 2014, according to Automotive News, and Autoblog's By the Numbers stats showed it posted falling sales in five of the seven months with data this year. Though, Mendel claims that was partially because the company focused on retail sales over fleets. The delays of the launches for the Honda Fit and Acura TLX likely didn't help either.

Honda CR-Z gets much-needed supercharger

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:30:00 EST

Honda has really taken its time in getting an aftermarket supercharger kit for the CR-Z to enthusiasts in the US. It's finally on sale, though, and it makes you wonder if the hybrid hatchback shouldn't have had it from the day it went on sale.
The supercharger kit developed by Honda Performance Development boosts output from the CR-Z's 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine to 197 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, according to Honda spokesperson Jessica Howell, an improvement of 67 hp and 36 lb-ft. It also adds an air-to-air intercooler, high-flow fuel injectors, a recalibrated ECU and new air filter for $5,495, before installation. However, the setup only works for six-speed manual transmission models from the 2013 and 2014 model years. If you want to take things even further, HPD is also offering an optional limited slip differential for $1,375 and sport clutch for $640, according to Howell.
Development of the supercharger kit has been ongoing for years. We first saw it on the CR-Z Mugen RZ in 2012 in Japan, in which it barely bumped power to 153 hp. Later at SEMA, Honda improved things to a more respectable 185 hp. Then in 2013, we actually got to drive an early version boasting 190 hp and found it a solid improvement over the stock powertrain. It appears Honda had some further tweaks to get things to the current 197 ponies. More good news: assuming you get the package installed at a dealer, the car maintains the balance of its 5 year/ 60,000 mile Honda limited powertrain warranty.

Honda fixes Fit flaw, improves performance on key crash test [w/video]

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:00:00 EST



The Fit's grade on the small-front overlap test improved from "marginal" to "acceptable."
Back in March, safety engineers at Honda were disappointed when the much-anticipated 2015 Fit received a substandard grade on an important crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Thieves still love older Hondas and pickups most, says NICB [w/video]

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:00:00 EST

No one wants to have their car stolen, but a new study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau has some bad news for older Honda owners and pickup drivers. Fortunately, it has better news for drivers overall. The group is reporting that according to preliminary data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, thefts were down 3.2 percent in 2013 (versus 2012) to fewer than 700,000 cars. That's the lowest figure since 1967. That's also less than half of the peak of over 1.66 million thefts in 1991. "The drop in thefts is good news for all of us," says NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. "But it still amounts to a vehicle being stolen every 45 seconds and losses of over $4 billion a year."
Honda drivers might not find it such good news with older Accord and Civic models topping this year's theft study. Toyota and Dodge can't really celebrate, either, with two models each on the list, as well. Overall, this year's list was split evenly between foreign and domestic models, which were mostly pickups.
The 10 most likely vehicles to be stolen in 2013 were:

Japanese spark plug giant NGK pleads guilty to price fixing, to pay $52M fine

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:00:00 EST

The ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into price fixing in the automotive industry has nabbed one more company breaking the law. Japanese parts giant NGK Spark Plug Company agreed to plead guilty to a felony count of pricing fixing and bid rigging in the in the US District Court in Detroit. Its punishment is a $52.1 million criminal fine and to continue to cooperate with the DOJ's sleuthing into the problem.
According to the DOJ, NGK conspired to fix prices on spark plugs, standard oxygen sensors, and air fuel ratio sensors on vehicles from major automakers in the US, including the former DaimlerChrysler, Honda and Toyota, in a scheme that ran from at least January 2000 to July 2011. The charge claimed that the company and its co-conspirators held meetings where they agreed on bids and price quotes that were submitted to the automakers.
With the latest plea, the DOJ has caught 28 companies and 26 executives for price-fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, and they have collected $2.4 billion in criminal fines. In 2013, the feds brought nine Japanese suppliers down at once, to collect $740 million. Scroll down to read the DOJ's complete announcement of the case.

Acura NSX bodywork to be sheathed in zirconium e-coat, fewer paint layers

Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:41:00 EST

Automakers make halo cars to drum up excitement and show off what they can do, but there's more to it than that. Advanced platforms allow a company's engineers to experiment with all sorts of technologies. And in the case of the upcoming new Acura NSX, that includes new paint processes.
Speaking with Autoline in this video interview, Honda's North American Senior VP Jon Minto talked about an innovative zirconium e-coat which it's applying to the new NSX. Unlike some experimental paints developed for Formula One, however, this coating is not designed to minimize drag or enhance cooling: it's designed to be more environmentally friendly.
It's one of a few measures which Honda is implementing on the NSX before expanding it to more accessible models, along with another process that uses fewer coats to reduce energy consumption by 40 percent. Watch the interview with Autoline host John McElroy right here.

Honda CR-V caught wearing facelift in Europe

Mon, 04 Aug 2014 17:32:00 EST

A few years on from its 2011 debut, the current Honda CR-V is preparing to go under the knife for a refresh. Typical of these sort of mid-cycle deals, the changes for Honda's popular CUV are minor.
The front of the car is home to the most dramatic (a relative term here) changes, with revised headlights sporting what looks like a slimmer profile. The three-bar grille has been heavily tweaked and is now a two-bar item, with a larger lower bar and a nose badge that covers both upper and lower sections.
The fascia itself has been modified with what looks like a larger lower intake, while the foglights have gone from the circular pattern of the current car to a rectangular pattern on the facelifted model. It looks like they'll still sport conventional bulbs, although the shape of the lights themselves look like a natural fit for a set of LED running lights (as is the trend).