Motor Monday: Honda Hype

Posted by: Matt Iasenzaniro onJune 22nd, 2015

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You’ll be hard pressed to find a Canadian car maker with a more dedicated and loyal following than Honda. I don’t say that because the Civic has been the best selling passenger car in Canada for 5 years running. I say it because the Civic hasn’t been the best car in the segment for all of those 5 years, but people kept on buying them.

Prior to the global recession of 2007, Honda could boast a reputation of performance with cars like the NSX, Integra Type R and S2000. Unfortunately, once money became tight the name of game became selling as many cars as possible, and that meant putting performance and fun on the back-burner. Honda stopped making the S2000, pulled out of Formula 1 and began an era of cheap and boring vehicles for the everyman. They rode the 8th generation Civic for as long as they could before releasing arguably the worst Civic ever in the 2012 North American model. It felt cheap, it looked old and it handled worse than anything else in the class. The 2012 was so poorly received that they did a refresh the very next year. How often does that happen? During this downturn of fun (frownturn, if you will) they did their best to ride the NSX buzz trying to convince people they still knew how to go fast. Sorry guys, but droning on about a prototype for 5 years doesn’t fool anybody.

Well lucky for the Honda fanboy, and the enthusiast in general, the company has clearly had a change of heart and decided that fun is back on the menu. The new NSX was finally unveiled in production trim and it looks stunning, but looks aren’t what we care about right now. The performance they’re claiming is on par with current exotics, and that’s right where it needed to be. Its hybrid powertrain, with electric motors individually powering the front wheels, is similar to the million dollar Porsche 918, though Honda’s version only makes about 550 horsepower. Speaking of hybrids, Honda also entered the new era of Formula 1 with some of the most complex energy recovery systems in the world. The results aren’t coming to them yet, but just the fact that they’re competing again is evidence that their attitude has changed for the better. It’s more than a step in the right direction, it’s leaps and bounds.

More significantly to those of us whose cars are worth less than condos, the Civic Type R was recently confirmed to be coming to North America for the first time ever, with the 10th generation model slated for a 2016 model year. Once the S2000 was killed off, the most fun car Honda had was the Civic Si. They still try to market it as a competitor in the segment but the rest of the industry has innovated around them and today they find themselves with an under-powered, over-priced middle performer. Hopefully the Type R will change all that, but details are scarce and competition is stiff. Cars like the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI have established themselves as leaders of the segment and each have strengths which put them head and shoulders above the rest. The new CTR is going to have to do a few things exceptionally well, and at a decent price, to hold its own.

Or, you know, it doesn’t. Because it’s a Honda and people will buy it no matter what.



When he’s not busy writing about cars or travelling the auto show circuit, he’s reviewing apps and video games related to the automotive world. In his spare time, Matt is a motorcycle enthusiast, trying not to kill himself riding along with the crazy local drivers. He is also a weekly contributor in the Motor Mondays segment on News Talk 770.

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