Posts Tagged ‘Civic’

SCOTTSDALE, AZ: So before we get all down and dirty on Acura’s latest venture in providing an entry-level luxury vehicle (sounds almost oxymoronic) to the North American and even the fastest-growing market in China, market. Let’s deal with some tasty bites of information.

1. Acura’s newest model, the ILX, slots in below the Acura TSX and is loosely based on the Honda Civic platform.

2. Three models are offered, including a base 150 hp 2.0L 4-cyl, a 201 hp 2.4L –and a 38 mpg combined Hybrid.

3. Pricing for the base ILX starts at $29,790 and tops out at $32,900. The ILX 2.4L is priced at $29,990 and the Hybrid at $34,990 to start.

Acura Canada has some interesting sales projections for this model and believe that the bulk of their numbers will be made with the 150-hp 2.0-litre when coupled with a five-speed automatic. The ‘drivers’ out there will be attracted immediately to the 201-hp 2.4-liter with a six-speed manual. And then there is the Hybrid which uses the Civic hybrid’s power train – but with a slightly jumpier throttle. Sales numbers? Well, Acura Canada are being quietly optimistic; the addition of the ILX will take Acura’s overall vehicle sales to more than 20,000 – 5,000 of those numbers being directly attributed to the ILX.

Photos: David Taylor

I had the opportunity of driving all three vehicles on the terrific US Army Engineers-designed roads sweeping through the hills/mountains outside Scottsdale, Arizona. Initial thoughts? A Hybrid with CVT is not a great choice for roads where the incline changes quickly and often suddenly. As a commuter vehicle involving in-town and highway driving, fine. The 2.4L with MT was a fun ride. The vehicle responded very well – whatever it was asked to perform. The downside is that it’s only available with standard transmission. Acura may have missed the mark with this decision. As an entry level sedan for a luxury brand, the 2.0 does not miss the mark, either. We were advised that the ILX has class-leading safety performance and is expected to achieve industry leading safety ratings from both National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

While the similarities to the 2012 Civic are, perhaps a little obvious, at this point, we cannot comment on this vehicle as it relates to the anticipated Civic ‘refresher’ expected later this year. We may well be dealing with a chicken and egg situation.

Regardless. the suspension and floor are vintage Civic.  Acura stylists have stretched the hood – perhaps to match the ILX’s premium aspirations? Stylists also worked at moving back the A-pillars 7.9 inches and the windshield base only  3.9 inches, necessitating deeply curved glass.

The Civic’s traditional front overhang has been stretched slightly while the rear was chopped – a little abruptly, creating odd visual proportions when the car is viewed in profile. Acura engineers and stylists refer to the exterior design concept as ‘aero-fused dynamics’. To use their words, “Cabin and body feel like they are pulled back, creating an impression that the rear is firmly planted.” Right.

The interior is comfortable and familiar buttons are positioned on the console – in fact, it appears that the audio and climate controls are from the TL.

In the ‘boiler room’ the 2.0-litre is bigger than the 2012 Civic’s engine and the 2.4 is the same as the Civic Si’s. Acura’s engineers and stylists have worked hard to provide a car that is quite quiet in the cabin at highway speed. The ILX achieves its targets by being quieter and feels more substantial, especially with its deluxe Acura interior, though there us some road noise from the standard all-season tires – especially when imperfections on the blacktop were hit. The electric-assist steering is almost typically light and drivers will not struggle to place the vehicles longer nose in its best driving position while the aforementioned tires and suspension keep it there. Getting back to the chicken and egg premise, this ‘driving feel’ is something that all Civics should have – including the Si.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the Acura ILX succeed?

Acura is introducing a luxury, albeit entry level vehicle to the market with a starting price point under $30,000. That is a good thing. Considering the level of finish inside and out and compared to their direct competition, they may well have a winner on their hands – especially with the 2.4L when compared to the BMW 3-series or even the less expensive Buick Verano.

Acura sees the ILX as a true luxury gateway model. And maybe that’s not a bad way of looking at things. Other premium manufacturers have almost stepped back from the compact segment in recent years. Acura has a huge opportunity to make premium compacts a mainstream category.

The Acura ILX offers luxury for less and is certain to also deliver brand qualities like reliability and durability. And, customers have a choice, too; not just one model fits all.

We’ll pay attention to the monthly sales numbers and see if they, Acura Canada are being, like Acura owners, aspirational.

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Three jet black Civic Si HFPs… there were also three white ones!

A little while ago an invitation came into my email inbox asking if I would be interested in attending a session on driving vehicles with a standard transmission.

Given that the invite was via Honda Canada, I mentally narrowed down the list of available Hondas – and Acuras – that are available with standard transmission.

On the Honda side? Civic, Fit, Accord and the only hybrid with standard, the CR-Z.

And on the Acura side? The TSX, TL and the new just released ILX.

But there was something more intriguing about the invite. The concept for the event was to take those that drive standard would be transformed into drivers – by teaching the principles of safe, controlled handling and the art of the manual transmission.

The giveaway? Our instructors were to be Daniel Morad, a World Karting Association Manufacturers Champion and who recently signed to Status GP in the newly formed GP3 series. The icing on the cake? Chris Bye. A former race car driver with a long and distinguished list of achievements to his credit and now president of Franczak Enterprises Ltd.

So now, with an invite specifically from Honda Canada, the field was narrowed down to two possible cars: the Civic Si or the CR-Z.

Imagine our surprise when we showed up on a glorious sun-drenched afternoon at Polson Pier, east of the heart of Toronto’s downtown to see three black and three white Honda Civic HFPs. Surprised? Sure, here were six of those vehicles – and only 200 have been manufactured and distributed for sale around the world!

What is HFP? Honda Factory Performance (HFP) is about more than Honda’s commitment to crafting reliable, high-performance vehicles. It’s about fuelling excitement and exhilaration to those who know driving is so much more than getting from one place to another. It’s about taking Honda’s race-inspired engineering to a new level. It’s about transforming already head-turning vehicles into awe-inspiring works of performance art. Most of all, Honda Factory Performance is about the pure thrill of the ride.

Each of these nimble warriors comes standard with a laundry list of equipment, but the heart and soul? Standard 2.4-litre, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine with 201hp and 170 lb.-ft. torque; 18″ HFP alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot® Super Sport performance tires; HFP suspension package; and, HFP front, side and rear under body spoilers. Not too shabby at all.

Slow corner at Polson Pier

We were going to have an afternoon full of fun and promise!

Game on.

Most people think they drive fast. Some even consider themselves to be speedy pseudo ‘race’ drivers. Frankly, while some did impress, most of us, although we might have the ability to double declutch and employ the classic heel-toe manoeuvre, at the beginning of the afternoon, we were all rank amateurs. Learners, really.

However, all was not lost. Some classroom-like instruction and then time on a make shift track with terrific instruction and practical pointers soon made a huge difference in our respective driving styles. By the time the afternoon was over, everyone, men and women were totally jazzed and in possession of a much better understanding of driving a standard transmission car. And not just fast. We learned control. To think ahead, to visualize next moves… all very Zen-like for sure – but it made a difference.

Even now, a couple of weeks after the fact, as I zip onto a highway on-ramp, I can hear either Daniel or Chris’ voice in my mind, repeating simple instructions, over and over ultimately making me and my passengers feel safer somehow as I negotiate and better appreciate the camber and line of the ramp.

Thanks, everyone. Lessons well taught – and well learned.

 With sales of 57,501 units in 2010, Honda Civic retained its position as Canada’s top-selling passenger car for the 13th consecutive year.  Since 1973, nearly 1.6 million Honda Civics have been sold in Canada, making Civic a leader in the Canadian automotive landscape.  An all-new, 9th-generation, 2012-model Civic will go on sale this spring. 

All Civic models sold in Canada, with the exception of the Civic Hybrid are made here in Canada. Honda Canada further states that nearly half of all the vehicles Honda sold in Canada in 2010 were built in Canada, including the Honda Civic and Acura MDX, ZDX and the Canadian-exclusive CSX.

Of the more than 5.3 million Honda and Acura vehicles that the Honda of Canada Mfg.  assembly plants in Alliston, Ontario, have produced over the past 24 years, more than 3 million of those have been Honda Civic models.