It’s been years since Honda has produced a car aimed at bringing both budget-minded and affluent automotive enthusiasts to the brand, and with increased competition both foreign (Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen) and domestic (Ford, Chevrolet), the company has to examine its product line or risk losing the buyers that once made Honda the sporty Japanese automaker. The S2000 is gone, the Civic Si is a shadow of its former self, the CR-Z isn’t worthy of the name, and the Acura NSX is God knows how far away from coming to the market. All of Honda’s rivals offer something in the way of performance, so how is it that the automaker that gave us the CRX Si has so completely lost its way?
The lowly V6 Mustang produced 210hp 10 years ago. Now, it makes 305hp
At the moment, engines powered by petroleum, whether it be diesel or gasoline, reign over electric motors for a variety of reasons, due in no small part to their lower cost of manufacturing, a large pool of people familiar with servicing those engines, and the ubiquity of refueling stations. As time goes on, batteries will become more efficient, smaller, and quicker to recharge, but they are far from perfect at this point in time. As far as electric vehicles go, the Tesla Model S is the only one that is a near perfect substitute for a traditional car, but its high price bars the population at large from easily obtaining one. Other electric vehicles are either too compact or have such small batteries that anything more than tooling around the city could leave drivers stranded with nowhere to go. While automakers are certainly doing their best to advance battery technology, today’s cars with gas or diesel engines are more powerful and efficient than ever, and the engine’s days before the Great Switchover will be its best.
With the release of the Chevrolet SS sports sedan only months away, there are many looking forward to Chevy’s return to the segment. General Motors hasn’t produced a proper large, V8 RWD sedan since the demise of the Pontiac G8 GXP, a car that I deemed a Future Classic not long ago. There are signs that suggest the SS will become a Future Classic as well, but does that mean you should rush to your local dealer to throw down a hefty deposit? My crystal ball says no.
The strange, coupe-like crossover vehicles that automakers have created over the last five years belong to a “niche going nowhere,” according to Automotive News. Some of those crossovers, such as the Acura ZDX and BMW X6, are based on existing automobiles but compromise headroom and accessibility for style. Others like the Toyota Venza, Honda Crosstour, and BMW 5 Series GT, are basically hatchbacked versions of the Camry, Accord, and 5 Series, respectively, aimed at Americans who would not buy a traditional 5-door. Innovation should be celebrated, but these automobiles all sacrifice one quality or another that draws people to those segments in the first place. Three of these vehicles have already been covered in “Four Cars You Won’t Believe Are Still For Sale Today,” so I’ll try not to rehash my complaints too much:
The ZDX is basically just a sloped version of Acura’s best-selling vehicle, the MDX crossover. Although the MDX sold more than 50,000 units last year, the ZDX has sold roughly 1/10 of that since its introduction in 2010. Blame the car’s relatively high sticker price and total apathy toward headroom and ingress/egress for the rear passengers. Its style is highly polarizing (although I happen to like it), and highly polarizing doesn’t work well for a brand new car when customers are looking to shuttle kids around easily. Look for it to be discontinued in the next year.
The 2015 Cadillac Escalade, weapon of choice for real estate agents hoping to impress first-time homebuyers.
The public unveiling of the revamped 2015 Cadillac Escalade is now one day behind us, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why every website on the World Wide Web is salivating over this garish monstrosity. Although not as hideous as the eye-searingly awful Infiniti QX56 (every one of which I vow to target and destroy if I ever come into possession of one of those sweet Bond villain laser satellites), the Escalade, with all of its faux “urban” panache, is a blight upon the American landscape for a multitude of reasons. These include, but are not limited to: chrome constituting half the car’s weight, the engine’s apathy for sipping fuel, and the general dickishness and/or obliviosity of Escalade drivers. These points and more make the post-apocalyptic wanderer’s preferred method of transportation the most out-of-touch and least relevant vehicle on sale today.
Kimi Räikkönen winning the Australian GP. From the Lotus F1 Facebook page
Formula 1’s silly season was somewhat ended this week when current Lotus racer Kimi Räikkönen was finally pegged to a team for 2014; despite insistent rumors that the Finn would be supplanting Mark Webber at Red Bull, Räikkönen will instead replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari. The move to throw two of the best non-Vettel racers on the same team is a clear indication that Ferrari isn’t content playing second fiddle to a team backed by an energy drink, and will be bringing the fight to Red Bull’s doorstep in 2014. Credit for some of Red Bull’s success this season must be given to Mark Webber, who, despite clearly being the team’s number two, has finished in the top 7 every race save for his retirement in China. As a constructor, Red Bull is likely to be fighting with a handicap next year anyway with Daniel Ricciardo graduating from Scuderia Toro Rosso, so the 1-2 punch of Alonso and Räikkönen may prove to be too much for Red Bull to handle next year. That is, if the two Ferrari drivers don’t kill each other first.
Terrible Paint job? Nope, this is an Artist’s Rendering
With the C7 Corvette ready to hit showrooms any day now, we are now at the point in the news cycle when it is time to start speculating about the inevitable high performance variant to slot above the base 455hp model. The outgoing Z06 produced 75 more horses than the standard C6, while the range-topping ZR1 boasted a supercharger to boost power by 110hp. So what will the hi-po C7 pack under the hood? Nobody knows anything, but that isn’t stopping reputable news sources from wildly offloading shotgun blasts of supposition into the great unknown. The wind carries rumors of a V8 (SURPRISE!) that may or may not be smaller than the C7’s common 6.2L and may or may not be mated to a hybrid engine, an electric motor, twin turbos, or a supercharger. Nobody knows anything, and everybody has a prediction! Isn’t this fun?