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Auto blogWed, 12 Dec 2012 18:59:00 EST
The not-yet-ready-for-primetime 2012 Honda Civic saw it quickly returned to sender for refurbishment, now the Acura ILX is headed in the same direction in its very first year. Automotive News reports that the small, Civic-based sedan from Honda's luxury brand isn't meeting sales expectations, with an annualized rate of 22,000 to 24,000 sales instead of the 30,000 the company is after. More telling is that the ILX "is being outsold by the Buick Verano, Volkswagen CC and Audi A4," and, except for two months since it launched, it has also been outdone by the Acura TSX it is meant to replace.
Part of the cause has been the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine: its 150 horsepower to motivate a sedan that can weigh up to 2,970 pounds doesn't offer the kind of performance or value experience that buyers in the segment respond to. Another big issue is that the top-level 2.4-liter engine is only offered with a six-speed manual even though most buyers of the highest trim don't really want to shift their own gears. Lastly, the ILX might not put enough space between it and its frugal underpinnings - our first drive review pegged it as "the world's nicest Honda Civic."
An automatic transmission is on the way for the 2.4-liter, but it isn't clear when. And while Honda admits that the 2.0-liter is underpowered and Automotive News says it's on the way out, the company hasn't yet said how that situation will be corrected.
There's a joke phrase from a popular movie that gets tossed around the Autoblog offices when ever a big change or announcement is coming: "Hold on to your butts." It's usually accompanied by a video of Samuel L. Jackson. That's the advice we'd recommend for reading this article. GTChannel is reporting that a new, small, lightweight, quick successor to the Honda S2000 is being "seriously considered."
Citing an unnamed source within the Japanese automaker, GTChannel goes on to list a few interesting tidbits about the new vehicle. From the sounds of it, though, if Honda is planning a new roadster, it's in the absolute earliest stages of development.
What's apparently being discussed is a car that's smaller than a Mazda MX-5, in terms of its dimensions. Under hood would be a VTEC engine, displacing anywhere from 1.3 to 1.5 liters, with GT Channel making the apt suggestion that the 1.5-liter, 132-horsepower mill from the Honda Fit could make its way into the new roadster. Curb weight would be in the realm of 2,000 pounds, which would make a 130-odd-hp engine seem absolutely heroic. Rear-wheel drive would be a given, although we aren't sure about the site's suggestion that a five-speed manual will be on offer. Styling could draw from the N-One, a popular, Honda-badged kei car.
While it's arguably been around the longest, the dominance of the four-door sedan has been under threat for many years. As a further sign of the hurtin' that SUVs and crossovers have put on today's four-doors, a new report from Automotive News points to the increasing use of incentives by brands reliant on cars and light on CUVs and pickups.
Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Kia have all been stung by double-digit increases in their incentives-to-transaction price ratio, according to AN, which cites data from TrueCar. Honda's ratio is up 14 percent, while Toyota, VW and Kia are up 18, 15 and 19 percent, respectively.
"Most of the incentive growth we have seen is in product segments with low demand - midsized or large sedans," TrueCar CEO John Krafcik told AN. "As this trend goes on, the brands with three-sedan strategies are going to be in worse shape on incentive spending than the crossover brands."