Honda shows it still has some imagination left
Honda will introduce this ”Small Sports EV” electric concept at the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show. We’re shocked, and it’s beautiful.
We’d given up on Honda when the S2000 replacement was cancelled, preceded by the cancellation of the wild V-10 powered new NSX.
But we’re also very disappointed in Honda because the company formerly known for its engine technology as well as it’s practicality and reliability and fallen significantly and steadily behind the engineering curve in recent years. Looking over the current line of engines, we’d ask where the independently variable intake and exhaust timing is, as well as variable valve lift and direct injection. Don’t even mention 6-speed automatic transmissions, which have just barely appeared in their highest-end luxury cars. Nearly everybody else has that engine technology very nearly across the board, and 6-speed automatic transmissions are in the process of being wholesale replaced by 7-, 8- and even 9-speed automatics. We won’t even ask Honda about a dual-clutch transmission.
The only engine left of any interest to enthusiasts, the Acura RDX turbo 4 cylinder, is saddled with outdated port injection and a lowly 5-speed speed automatic. Resulting in atrocious gas mileage. And is due to be cancelled next year. What might have been an “EcoBoost” type of engine, to compete with Mazda, Hyundai, Ford, GM, and BMW, is already dead and out of the plan. A better-engineered version might have powered a Civic S-Type or next-gen S2000, and it could have provided up to 35 MPG in those light and efficient cars.
With this new concept, there might be hope for some sort of Honda rejuvenation… perhaps along the lines of Toyota with its new FT-86 themed sports car. When that car appears next year (and we also know the idea of a new Supra is being explored), we will see a Toyota that recognizes and celebrates the joy of driving as well as the responsibility of environmental conservancy. Of course, Toyota has a dynamic leader (and experienced driver in sports car racing series) in Akio Toyoda – something that Honda is conspicuously missing. And Toyota is growing a new generation of enthusiasts engineers with the LFA project and some of the recent work in the Lexus LS-F and the new G series. Honda’s S2000 engineers have all retired, and the next NSX project is weighted down with political “green” undertones.
Only time will tell if any of the Japanese automakers can find their own way forward.