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.
Continue reading Acura NSX bodywork to be sheathed in zirconium e-coat, fewer paint layers
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).
Changes in the back are decidedly calmer. Honda has modified the rear bumper, and at least on these British-plated, Euro-spec CR-Vs, a larger set of reflectors have been integrated in a higher, more outboard position than on the current model. The taillights look to have undergone the most minor of changes, retaining the shape of the ones found on the current CR-V.
Finally, our spies point out that the cabin will be home to some very minor changes, as evidenced by the bits of camo on the center stack.
It should be noted that as these are European market vehicles, we may not see all of the changes to the North American market CR-V. That said, we're still expecting there to be some tweaks coming to our version of Honda's crossover sooner rather than later.
New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them but used cars are under no such mandate.
When it comes to informing the car-buying public about potential safety hazards on used vehicles, there are two emerging schools of thought among used-car dealers.
In one camp: those who disclose as little as possible. Used-car giant CarMax leaves it to customers to check to see whether a car is under recall. Consumer groups filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission last month, because they believe the lack of information amounts to deceptive advertising.
In the other: Honda, which has gone in the opposite direction. The company recently started disclosing possible recalls related to airbag malfunctions in certain vehicles. Honda is asking customers buying those used cars to sign a document that acknowledges they've been made aware of the issue. Buyers may be better informed, but such a signature could also shift liability away from the automaker.
It's a vexing issue on several fronts.
New cars under recall must be repaired before a dealer can sell them, under rules imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But used-car sellers are under no such mandate. Honda's disclosure helps consumers understand their new purchase may contain a potentially lethal defect, but some are worried that it could frighten customers away or expose dealerships to greater liability.
Following up on a sextet of spy photos from June, we now have another batch of images of the facelifted Euro-spec Honda Civic undergoing testing in the United Kingdom. There's a bit more sheetmetal to this particular prototype, though, as our spy photographers have caught the upcoming Tourer model (pronounced "wagon" among us Yanks).
Like the hatchback we showed you last month, the new Tourer benefits from the same set of styling tweaks inspired by the Civic Type R Concept from March's Geneva Motor Show. That means it boasts a revised front fascia, albeit with a more heavily camouflaged version of the grille shown in last month's photos. It's a similar story below, where the intakes on this long-roof model wear more disguise, yet look to be virtually identical to what we've already seen.
While the headlights still look to be a straight lift from last month's car, the more upright nature of the Tourer's tailgate demands a more subdued character. Gone are the thin, curvy LED taillights, and in their place sit significantly more substantial units (with conventional bulbs), although they boast none of the design chutzpah shown on our last round of spy photos. Our spies claim LED taillights will be available, noting that they simply aren't fitted to this particular prototype, a distinction that suggests this is a lower-end model.
Look for the new European Civic family to make their grand entrance in early October, at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.
Assuming all goes to plan, automakers test their vehicles to the breaking point in the months and years leading up to that vehicle's actual release into the public. Which is good, because it's much better for a car to break in glorious fashion in the hands of the company that produces it than in the driveway of an owner who just spent their hard-earned cash to get it.
Such was the case with this production-guise Acura NSX prototype that we saw running around the Nürburgring just the other day. We can't be 100-percent certain, but the burned-out carcass is wearing the same number plate as the car that was spotted earlier, so it's likely the very same NSX. We have no idea what was the cause of the blaze that turned this Acura into the car-b-q you see pictured above, but our spy shooters on the ground in Germany say it was not involved in any collision, having caught on fire all on its own with engineers behind the wheel.
The good news is that nobody was hurt, though the car is quite clearly a complete loss. We're sure there's another ready to to test in the burned car's place... just as soon as the engineers at Honda figure out exactly what went wrong. Have a look at the smoldering aftermath up above, and feel free to scroll down below to see a video of the car in much better circumstances.
Continue reading 2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]
Street racing is obviously illegal and incredibly dangerous, but that has never stopped people from doing it. While we don't hear nearly as much about the scourge of Japanese tuner cars as when The Fast and the Furious first hit theaters over a decade ago, illegal street racing is still bubbling under the surface all over the island nation. An excellent new documentary short from Bowls Films takes a look at the Kanjozoku from Osaka, Japan; a group that claims to be partially responsible for the tuning style known as JDM.
The group gets their name from their preferred route known as the Kanjo. It's a 4.77-mile long loop of connected highways running right through the city of Osaka. You might expect a hardcore group of illegal Japanese racers to show up with highly tuned Nissan GT-R and Toyota Supra coupes, but the Kanjozoku evidently eschew all of the others in favor of one particular car that they love: the Honda Civic.
According to the video, that vehicle of choice came in part from the city's location. Osaka was relatively near the one-make Civic races held at Japan's legendary Suzuka racetrack. The hatchbacks thus became the default weapons for the Kanjozoku's street battles.
The guys interviewed for the documentary go so far as to claim that their scene created the whole concept of JDM tuning. The whole video is a really interesting portrait of an illegal racing scene crafted out of friendly competition. Scroll down for a brief look at the Kanjozoku of Osaka - it's worth it.
Continue reading Meet the Kanjozoku, Osaka's infamous street racers
Jay Leno's Garage is back to its tried-and-true formula this week with Jay taking a close look at a seriously cool vehicle with a guest. This time he invites in Adam Gaspic from Gasser Custom to take a look at a highly customized 1975 Honda CB750.
The bike is really an amalgam of styles from different eras and various Honda parts. Its looks are inspired by '50s hot rods with its white-wall tires and satin, metallic fuel tank, but there is a little British café racer in there, as well. A digital instrument panel and LED turn signals lend an air of modernity to it, too. Mechanically, the bike rides on a modified '75 frame with the front and rear suspension from an '80s Honda. However, the pièce de résistance is its engine, bored out to 836cc with additional head work and a custom exhaust.
Once on the road, the bike really sings. It sounds just the way a classic Japanese motorcycle should with a mix of whine at high-revs with rumble down low. A cycle that mixes this many styles should probably be a mess, but this fuses it all together perfectly. Scroll down to take a look at this motorcycle mixing classic and modern in Jay Leno's Garage.
Continue reading Leno meets the nicest people on his bored-out Honda CB750
It's not particularly unusual to see cheap cars in China, or those with designs stolen from foreign competitors, but increasingly the best-selling vehicles there would be very recognizable to just about any auto enthusiast. There appears to be one fact of life whether looking at car buyers in Sacramento, Stuttgart or Shanghai: People who can afford to buy premium cars often look first at the Germans.
Honda recently thought that it could challenge this perceived wisdom by including a premium Accord in the ninth-generation sedan's Chinese launch last year. The market-exclusive version was priced against the Audi A4. The venture failed, miserably.
According to Automotive News China, sales for the new Accord in China are down 37 percent through May of this year. Honda's overall sales are actually up by about 11 percent there on the strength of smaller, less profitable models. However, the company is still off its forecast 19-percent rise.
It appears that Honda badly judged the Chinese market's appetite for Japanese cars. The recent political relationship between the two countries has been strained, to put things mildly, and it has skewed car sales. Protests in 2012 resulted in vandalism to Japanese cars and even temporarily closing of factories associated with the nation. The hard feelings haven't subsided, it seems. A study published in May of 2014 found that 51 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed would never consider buying a Japanese car.
With the Japanese automakers at a severe handicap, the Germans are flourishing. According to Automotive News China, the two best-selling midsize sedans in the country are the Volkswagen Passat and Passat-derived Magotan, and Audi is China's best selling premium brand. In fact, driving one is almost a requirement among government bureaucrats. It seems that just about no matter where you are in the world, buyers love a German luxury sedan.
Episode #387 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing and Michael Zak talk about more General Motors recalls, upgrades and a diesel for the 2015 Ford Focus ST, and the BMW M235i scoring ahead of the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in Consumer Reports testing. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #387:
GM recalls 8.4M more cars in North America
Ford Focus ST upgrades and diesel
CR says M235i is better than 911
In the Autoblog Garage:
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
2014 Honda Accord Coupe V6 6MT
Long-Term 2015 Subaru WRX
2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Michael Zak
Intro & Garage - 00:00
GM Recalls - 26:26
2015 Ford Focus ST - 41:56
BMW M235i - 50:24
Q&A - 59:16
Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
Once again, the most American car on the market is from an American brand. The Ford F-150 retained its number one spot in Cars.com's annual survey of the most American vehicles, trumping the Toyota Camry, which remains at number two.
Ford taking the top spot is small consolation, though, as the Detroit Three aren't too well represented here. General Motors scored a win at number seven, with the Chevrolet Corvette, while Chrysler squeaked in at number ten, with the Dodge Viper. Outside of those three vehicles, Toyota and Honda dominate the top ten.
What's most remarkable, though, is that there were so few cars available for this year's list.
"Only ten cars were eligible for the American-Made Index this year. That's the fewest in the study's nine-year history. In 2013, 14 cars met the threshold, 20 in 2012 and 30 cars the year before that," said Patrick Olsen, Editor-In-Chief of Cars.com. "This consistent decline points to global nature of cars these days. Production in the US is up, but parts are coming from all over the world, making the notion of classifying cars as 'American' more difficult than ever."
In addition to the smaller batch of cars, the bottom four (Corvette, Honda Ridgeline, Honda Crosstour and Viper) are all first timers for the Most American study.
How did these results develop, though? Well, in addition to their final assembly location, Cars.com takes into account parts content, eliminating cars with a parts distribution below 75 percent American. All cars must be built in the US, while discontinued models need to have a US-built successor heading to market.
Take a look below for the full press release and list of winners from Cars.com.
Continue reading Fewest vehicles ever found eligible for Most American survey