2017 Honda Civic Type-R features euro-touring sport and refinement

One _Bad_Ass_Civic
One bad ass Civic

Not often does an auto manufacturer successfully blend track proven high performance and long range touring comfort in an affordable, segment topping high performance hatchback; such is the case with Civic Type-R. For 2017, the first Civic to wear the enviable Type-R mark in the United States is now imported from England.

Several years in the making, the Honda Fan Boy Tuner crowd is excited by the arrival of Honda’s Brembo braked 305 horsepower, 6 speed manual transmission super hatchback. And rightfully so. 2017 Civic Type-R  gives Ford, Subaru, and Volkswagen a run for the money, and will dominate the sub-premium compact performance hatchback segment without the added expense and weight of all-wheel-drive.

The weight to power ratio of 2017 Civic Type-R is epic, but that’s just the beginning of this story.

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305 horsepower 2017 Civic Type_R

Last week I spent a day with Honda on a 2.4 mile racetrack on Washington State’s Puget Sound. Granted, the record holding 2017 Civic Type-R 5-door performance hatchback excelled on the track, with myself and other auto journalists reaching rev-limiting speeds, on a multiple elevation and downturn track that rivals many in Europe and the U.S.. Read my track day account here.

Truly, where 2017 Honda Civic Type-R surprised this rather jaded journalist and other road-hardened press jockeys was on the road. Frankly, I wasn’t anticipating the ride refinement, cabin comfort, hands-free connectivity, and overall quality fit and finish encountered behind the wheel of Honda’s most powerful turbocharged Civic produced to date. After 4.5 hours, and a very twisty 180 miles through the beaches, grasslands and woods of Puget Sound, I was ready to purchase Type-R, or at least beg, steel, or borrow one — it’s that good man.

During Honda’s technical presentation, we learned the finer points of Type-R increased frame rigidity, active dampening suspension, epic cooled Brembo brakes, and the makings of perhaps the most comfortable high bolstered seat in Honda history. The rest is pure Honda touring hatchback, as it should be.

Civic_Type_R _Driver's _Seat
The best driver’s seat in the segment

On the performance side, Honda employs a race proven VTEC 4-cylinder inner cooled 2.0 Liter dual cam gasoline engine, and arguably the most forgiving 6-speed manual racing class manual transmission in the segment. instant-on, seemingly endless torque is transferred to the pavement via a limited slip front-wheel drive differential.

Yet when behind the wheel, one would be hard pressed to differentiate Civic Type-R handling from the best AWD (all-wheel-drive) rally cars on the track today.

Honda engineering  eliminates torque steer in Type-R, resulting in a very positive straight-on launch off the light — Type-R traction is measurably sticky with ZERO brake fade noted under extreme driving conditions.

Manufactured on Honda’s compact car world platform, this Civic adds a high performance spin to an already very good European hatchback drive and ride experience. Unfortunately, you may never see, or experience one driving down a road near you.

A mere 2500, 2017 Civic Type-R will make landfall this year

With 1200 + Honda car dealerships in the U.S., not all will take delivery of Honda’s rarest offering. We’re informed by Honda P.R. that annual production if indicated by buyer demand, will peak out at 5,000 units per year — that should keep the resale value up a bit.

After spending 7 hours behind the wheel of Civic Type-R, I’m sold. Looking to the MSRP of $33,000 + handling, tax, etc, I believe Civic Type-R to be an exceptional buy and drive value. And with the micro-production numbers, look for the initial run 2017 Civic Type-R to be an instant collectible.

Why Honda CR-V tops USN and World Report’s ‘2017 Best New Cars for Teens’

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The best selling SUV in North America

Nineteen, 16 year old teenage drivers die every day in the U.S. resulting from traffic accident fatality; many of these accidental deaths are avoidable; and more often than not the result of distractions; texting while driving; talking on cellphones, and infotainment related activities.

With Honda Motor Company targeting 2025 as its “ZERO auto related death or major injury target year, 2017 Honda CR-V earns US News and World Report’s “Best New Car for Teens” award. What makes CR-V exceptional in a sea of very good compact crossovers? Read on.

2017 Honda CR-V in any trim variant, is the most advanced 2-row SUV in maker’s history.

Without question, the latest advent of Honda’s best selling SUV in it’s turbocharged glory, is a pleasure to drive; good looking, and multiple task capable. Beyond that, Honda’s near midsize 2-row comes with one of, if not, the most comprehensive active safety suite option in the sub-premium SUV segment.

Granted,  you and I may not eagerly share our brand new CR-V Touring with the newest driver in the family. However, US News and World Report ranks 2017 Honda CR-V, when equipped with optional Honda Sensing ™, the “Best New Car for Teens,” in the ever expanding crossover, SUV vehicle segment. Read my latest CR-V drive impressions here.

2017 Honda CR-V when properly equipped, will avoid collision

While not 100% Autonomous, 2017 Honda CR-V when optioned with Honda’s award winning Honda Sensing ™, will not only assist your teenage driver in keeping within the driving lane when distracted (often,) but mitigate collision avoidance by applying the brakes, often a split second before the driver becomes aware of pending doom.

There’s also, roll-over- prevention, via heightened electronic suspension stability, ABS, electronic brake aided non-skid quick stopping, and much more. Me, I like the adaptive cruise control and “Lane Keep Assist.” Read more about active safety features here. You will find full 2017 CR-V specifications and trim level MSRP here.

*Portions of this article appeared in my Honda-Torque News column 

 

2017 Honda Civic Si most powerful in maker’s history

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The first ever turbocharged Honda Civic Si. American Honda Motors 2017

On first look the 10th generation 2017 Honda Civic Si is the maker’s most powerful and refined mainstream compact performance car offered to date.  And frankly, the turbocharged horsepower and torque numbers are but a small part of what makes this Civic Si. a dynamic performer.

1.5 Liter turbocharged 4 cylinder VTEC engine, limited slip diff, 6-speed manual

What makes 2017 Honda Civic Si the most powerful Si offering in Honda history is the torque characteristics of the manufactured in America alloy block and head EarthDreams turbocharged VTEC engine. According to our friends at Honda engineering, maximum torque comes on at 1850 RPM (just a tad above idle) and stays there through 4800 RPM.

When this engine characteristic is combined with Honda’s short-throw 6-speed manual transmission, and limited slip differential, it’s magic time! Honda-Torque News: Read more about 2017 Civic Si here.

Honda improves ride dynamic with electronic “drive mode’ reactive dampening (shocks)

Well, I won’t be driving Civic Si until mid May, so , I won’t expand on the ride quality today. However, I’ve sat behind the wheel of the reinvented 2017 Civic Si, and can attest to not only the historically correct Si color scheme, but the comfort of the high bolstered driver’s seat, visual appeal of the red-light dash array, perforated race-like foot pedals, and the roomier, comfortable accommodation of the 10th generation Civic platform derived interior. No shortcuts noted, this Civic looks quality!

Taking it back a notch. We look in on HondaPro Jason

Our “go-to” Civic Si expert is no other than Jason Richmond, A.K.A. HondaPro Jason. A proud Civic Si owner, Jason’s very excited as to the new found power, assumed approved handling, and uptick segment bench setting refinement discovered through Honda’s latest and greatest Civic Si. Take a look at Jason’s Project Orange here.

Civic _Comparison
9th generation Civic Si Vs 10th generation Civic Touring.

Although American Honda Motors has not announced exacting dealership date of arrival or prince-point, I believe we’ll see 2017 Civic Si arrive sometime in late May 2017, with an MSRP hovering very close to $25,000. Si will be available in performance coupe and sedan variants. One engine, one transmission, oversize brakes, and limited slip front differential. Personally, I can’t wait to drive it!

 

 

Honda heads to New York with 2017 Clarity electric car trio

 

 

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2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Photo Attributions Parks McCants 2017

It’s good to have choices, and that’s what Honda offers discerning auto industry insiders and consumers at 2017 N.Y.I.A.S. This week in New York City,  Honda debuts a trio of 2017 Clarity electric cars, more electrification choices than any other mainstream auto manufacturer on the planet.

With great buzz surrounding the showing of the first Type-R to wear the Honda label in New York, as well as the Civic Si duo, a bit of air may be let out of the bag that is the advancement of Honda electrification.

Currently, as reported by yours truly at Honda-Torque News, 2017 Clarity currently drives the streets of California as a lease-only hydrogen fuel cell generated stand alone electric car.  I recently drove Clarity FCV on the streets of Santa Barbara. Loved it!

Clarity FCV, BEV or plug in hybrid

Honda public relations tells us that they anticipate the 5-passenger 4-door 2017 Clarity plug-in hybrid sedan to be the best seller in this trio. With internal combustion charge-co generation, and extended plug-in electric only drive range (estimated 40 + miles,) Sedan or not, 2017 Clarity hybrid electric will be a Honda market sales leader.

Clarity BEV panned for 80 mile between charge drive range 

The two electric drive range extremes in the 2017 Clarity lineup is the 360 miles driven between 3-minute hydrogen refueling stop, and the stated 80 miles in-city drive range of the Clarity battery electric. Honda claims that previous Fit EV leasees have no problem with Clarity BEV range. Could be, I’ve yet to speak with a Fit electric fan.

As the market transitions back to large SUVs

There’s more than just a slight undercurrent sweeping a quickly transitioning auto market away from fuel efficient, sub compacts, compacts, and yes, entry level electric cars and crossovers. Although a slight uptick in electric vehicle sales was recorded in 2016, the general trend is consumers opting for gasoline motivated, relatively thirsty, premium or luxury SUVs. The bigger the better. Non the less, Honda takes the long view while embracing the sustainable future of auto-electrification.

2017 Acura MDX hybrid and more

We recently drove 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid and walked away smiling, despite a torrential downpour.  Honda talks of adapting the Clarity platform for light truck duty,perhaps Honda fans will see a hybrid Pilot in the not too distant future, perhaps.

 

Acura TLX Sedan Comes Out Swinging with Precision Performance Design Upgrade

 

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Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX to Make World Debut * Image Attributes Acura Division 2017

Judging by Acura’s latest ‘teaser image’ of the 2018 TLX premium midsize performance sedan, the Precision Performance inspired design upgrade should not only elevate lagging TLX sales, but take the maker to the forefront of a very competitive, German dominated segment — where frankly, for many well heeled buyers’ price point is secondary to cutting edge good looks and reasonable road performance.

Already a great car by most discerning buyer’s standards

I count myself fortunate to have gained much seat time behind the wheel of Acura’s upper trim level sedans and SUVs. While arguably, a bit visually understated when compared to the likes of Audi, BMW, and Lexus, every one of Acura’s offerings makes up for conservative looks, with exceptional road handling, cabin comfort, reasonable MSRP, and top of segment fuel efficiency and safety.

Where Acura continues to trail the competition is in engine power output, and body style. Me, I personally like Acura style, but I’m not 40 something, and captivated by the rather futurist styling of Lexus, or the German in-your-face historically correct performance sedans of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Acura in direct comparison trends towards “boxy,” on the SUV side of the mark, and Honda-like on the performance sedan side of the big “A. That’s all about to change.”

With the advent of NSX hybrid supercar, and the presentation of Acura’s Precision Performance Concept, comes a major change of direction in Acura lineup-wide body language. Gone is the Acura Beak, and by most accounts, it won’t be missed. In its stead, as featured most recently in the 2017 Acura MDX refresh is a diamond mesh 3-D grill design, featuring Acura’s unique moniker, front and center. Read my latest take on Acura MDX sport hybrid here.

We further note a seamless integration of updated L.E.D. headlamp and running light details. And, as seen in recent spy-shot photos, a round to organic, side panel body line, expressing improved engine performance and torque vectoring road handling to come.

Hybrid, new center dash static screen, and expanded active safety features

Perhaps! As of this posting, Acura’s not saying. But truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a turbocharged 1.5 or 2 liter 4 cylinder gasoline engine rolling down the production line, linked to a new proprietor Acura transmission, or two.

Look for the world debut of Acura’s next advent at the New York International Auto Show in April.

 

North America Production Civic Type-R Debuts in Los Angeles

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

According to Honda News, Honda tuner fans were afforded the opportunity to view the 10th generation world-compact-car platformed 2017 Civic Type-R, Sunday at 2017 Auto Con in Los Angeles, California. This marks the U.S. debut of the first Honda to ever dawn the Type-R badge, and the first turbocharged 2.0 liter i-VTEC gasoline engine featured in a factory street legal, out of the box, “hot-hatch.”

Next up is the New York International Auto Show in April, where Honda will showcase Civic Type- R and a trio of Clarity electrified offerings. We’re also confident that Acura will have a strong showing, but as of this posting Acura’s keeping their hand close to the vest. Read my latest Clarity adventure here.

While the AWD, FWD debate continues…

Personally, I like the idea of minimizing dead and moving weight, drive line components, and, drive train related drag through FWD when hitting the race skids. Honda Civic in its modified version continues to perform well in Autocross, off-road rally and G.T. track racing world-wide. At the heart of every Honda Civic race car is a front drive differential. Type-R performance will be impressive.

2017 Civic Type R

In the case of the over-the-top 306 horsepower Type-R, motivation comes from a 2.0 Liter 1-VTEC engine, close throw 6 speed manual transmission, and limited slip front wheel drive. The production offering is very close in specifications to the record setting European version, with an uptick in creature comforts, cab accouterments, and E.P.A. compliant safety features. You may find my latest take on Civic Type-R here, including estimated MSRP and specifications.

As for me, I’m looking forward to some Civic Type-R seat time in late Spring 2017, just around the corner. And look forward to putting Honda’s most powerful production Civic through its paces.

2017 MDX Sport Hybrid SUV:  This week we’ll head north and discover what electrification does to take the #1 selling premium SUV in the U.S. up to the next level in fuel efficient, electric-torque driven performance.

2017 Chevy Bolt Brings Mainstream Appeal to Electric Vehicle Segment

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Parks McCants drives the streets and countryside of San Francisco in 2017 Chevy Bolt.

I recently experienced Chevrolet’s exceptional 5-door Bolt hatchback on the outback surrounds and streets of San Francisco. Within miles of entering Chevy’ s latest offering in the ever evolving electric car universe, I forgot  I was driving a battery motivated electric vehicle.

That’s the beauty of 2017 Chevy Bolt, with a stated 230 + mile drive range between charging cycles, range anxiety quickly becomes a non issue. But Bolt’s appeal is much more than extended drive range. Chevy Bolt drives, rides, and feels like a conventional gasoline engine compact hatchback. The brakes, while regenerative, transmit natural hydraulic – like pedal feel back to the driver’s foot. The steering wheel road to driver input, although electric, feels natural, responsive, and easy.

Nice uptick interior finish 

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2017 Chevy Bolt EV brings a refined interior to the compact EV segment.

Chevy Bolt’s rather pleasant interior is exceptionally comfortable. The driver’s seat was firm, form holding, but not too restrictive. Bolt’s thin profile, foam filled power adjusted driver’s seat, handled my 6 foot 5 inch frame with ease, as did the rear bench. Surprisingly, the compact electric hatchback affords comfortable seating for 4 adults. Yes, 5 can fit in a pinch. With the second row 40/60 split bench folded, one discovers a near flat cargo platform, plenty of transformer-like space back here.

On the downside, visibility through the rear hatch is limited, especially with passengers on board. No worries, in top trim Chevy employs a rear cam that double duties as Bolt’s rear view mirror. It takes a moment to get used to, yet, it works well.

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2017 Chevy Bolt offers impressive hatchback utility.

As I ran my eyes and hand over Bolt’s interior finish and exterior body line, I was taken by how refined Chevy’s answer to a mainstream, long range, affordable electric hatch truly is. As to the drive, I was a bit blown away by the instant-on torque experienced behind the wheel of Bolt, as we navigated the crazy-steep streets of San Francisco. My companion mentioned roller coasters, that it was. Take-off and throttle hesitation is non existent in Bolt EV.

Freeway cruising is a pleasure

2017 Chevy Bolt, due to its inherent, battery module placement low center of gravity, handles road-sticky through the sweeps, with a larger, cushier car feel, when running at freeway speeds. Passing is effortless, seamless if you will. For those who have never experienced an electric car, the drive dynamic of Chevy Bolt is quite unique, pleasant and down right addictive.

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2017 Chevy Bolt features the longest between charge driving range in the segment.

On completion of our 6 hour drive circuit, 135 miles remained on the electric range minder. Astounding! Believe me, I didn’t baby 2017 Chevy Bolt.

In conclusion: If you were to ask me what I’d change in Bolt, at this juncture, nothing. Dollar for dollar, when I compare 2017 Chevy Bolt to any Battery Electric Car on the market today, when it comes to affordable electric car access, utility and extended drive range, Bolt wins, hands down. For more information on availability and MSRP, read my first drive impression recap at Torque News.

Subaru WRX fans in an uproar over next gen Honda Civic Type-R

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Euro Inspired Civic Type-R coming to America

So, the great debate continues as to the supremacy of Subaru all-wheel-drive torque transfer over any and all comers in the world-rally car, and hot-hatch street scene.  Regardless, for the Honda hardcore, Civic high performance is, and shall always be, manually shifted and delivered to the road via a front differential, powered by a high revolution, Honda iVTEC derived fuel injected fire breather.

Good enough, we all have or quirky preferences. For me, while I do appreciate a very controlled real-time 4-wheel-drive drift, there’s nothing quite like the near out of control slide of a front wheel drive Honda. Hey, I can drift an NSX supercar, if the tires are hot enough.

Here’s the thing: The fewer moving drive-line parts the better. For 2017, Honda promises an out of the box pocket racer that will blow the doors off of every factory manufactured performance hatchback brand available to North America. Note, Subaru Loyal, the legendary WRX Si hatchback will not be coming stateside in 2017, right?

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2017 Civic Type-R is vissually stunning

But truthfully: To the Honda loyal, competing brands are inconsequential when it comes to their undying love for a car that few of them have driven, and even fewer will ever own. When 2017 Honda Civic Type R comes to the U.S., sometime in late Spring or early Summer 2017, it will be the most powerful, and the rarest, Honda to ever roll out of a Honda dealership showroom. Well, perhaps the original NSX is rarer, perhaps.

306 Horsepower, tricked out to the max, and expensive by Honda standards

Here’s the thing guys and gals. When the last rendition of Honda Type-R came to market in Europe and Japan, early in 2016, it sold out in a matter of minutes. 700 units were manufactured, 200 of them went to Japan. While Honda has not released production numbers for the reinvented 10th generation world-compact-platformed 2017 Civic Type-R, we do know, that the initial production run will be  a limited one. What do you get for your money? Check it out.

Honda tells us to expect an MSRP to land in the mid $30,000 range; I’m thinking just south of $40,000, if you can find one. Good enough, Civic Type-R, the first Honda to wear the designation in the U.S., will sell out on its release. When we look to the specifications of this ‘out of the box’ factory street racer, the estimated MSRP is a relative bargain, Subaru WRX fan or not. So, for the time being. we’ll leave our Subaru WRX fans in an uproar. My son is one of them.

Expanded Honda Clarity Electric Lineup Debut’s 2017 New York International Auto Show

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Clarity Series to Debut at New York International Auto Show

As announced Wednesday by American Honda Motors, with Clarity, you get three options of electrification, presented in a stunning future forward 5-place personal conveyance. Electric Vehicle proponents now have an debut opportunity to view the Clarity lineup, April 14 through the 23, at the 2017 NYIAS (New York International Auto Show.)

NYIAS remains a favorite model reveal launching pad for Honda, the fastest growing automotive brand in the United States. Predicted market availability for Clarity BEV, (battery electric vehicle) and Clarity, gasoline/electric hybrid, is Fall of 2017; just around the corner in automotive development time.

Highlights of today’s announcement include a stated 40 mile-electric-only drive range for Clarity Hybrid, making it one of the greatest electric-only drive range hybrids available to North America. Read my Torque News slant on the Clarity lineup here.

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

A bit disappointed with stated Clarity BEV drive range

Say what you will Honda, in today’s rapidly developing mainstream electric vehicle market,  a “real-world” realistic battery-electric drive range must exceed 130, and better yet, approach or exceed 200 miles between charge cycles. Unfortunately,  this is not the case for the much welcomed Clarity BEV.  We’ll see where it all lands.

Looking to the electric market handwriting on the wall, and the increased sales performance for the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid, I believe the winner of the Clarity trifecta to be the hybrid. I love the zero emissions quotient of the Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell. But, before that innovation can go mainstream, an escalated expansion of the Hydrogen Fuel Network must ensue. We’re 3-years into that proposition in California, with 18 stations or so completed to date?  Progress, yes, it’s slow, but meaningful.

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Although not substantiated by the maker, 80 miles between charge cycles is anticipated for Clarity BEV

Next week we take our first spin behind the wheel of Clarity Fuel Cell. I’m excited. look for updates here. If you could purchase a ZERO emissions vehicle for under $40,000, would you?  Let us know what you would like to see come to market in a long-trip-viable, supper low emissions car or light truck. Your thought provoking comment is always welcomed here.

The latest from Honda-Torque News

 

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

 

This week in Honda-Torque News I share Honda Motor Company’s sales report for February, yet another record sales month for American Honda.

Light truck sales, the Fed’s designation for any light-truck-like crossover or SUV drove the brand to a record February with 2017 CR-V SUV outselling Accord and Civic, for the first time in memory. Noteworthy is a double digit increase in sales volume for Honda’s HR-V subcompact CUV, and continued momentum for Fit, the entry portal to the American Honda lineup. Read my latest take on 2017 Honda HR-V here.

Parks McCants with 2016 Honda HR-V in Miami, Fl..

American Honda embraces alternative propulsion

For the second month of 2017, we note an interesting development on Honda’s electrification front, with 2017 Accord Hybrid posting a 385% sales gain over February 2016. Does the uptick indicate sustainable growth through the driving public’s acceptance of the electric car, or are Californian’s simply easing their way into a less crowded, quick moving Diamond Lane?

While Clarity FCV and Accord Hybrid owners do benefit from an environmentally friendly pass, as to congested L.A. and Orange County traffic congestion, I do believe the general appeal of a high-torque clean burning auto to be a bit broader than the outskirts of L.A., so do the engineers at Honda. Read our latest slant on Honda auto electrification here.

Clarity Battery Electric

As earlier reported by Torque News and others, the 3rd generation Clarity Fuel Cell manufacturing platform further expands into a gasoline/electric hybrid varient, and a battery electric offering. Honda, while not specific as to the near future application of electrification, has indicated that a crossover, SUV, or pickup truck may be in the works in the not too distant future.

Despite current low-fuel pricing, for Honda Motor Company, and other makers positioning for market share in California, still the world’s largest auto market, electric is the viable future in high-torque-output, super low to no exhaust emission, environmentally friendly, personal and commercial transportation.

You will see, and possibly drive, or ride in, a fully autonomous, (hands-free, sensory, computer controlled) long-range electric car within the next decade.

I’ve experienced high-speed hands-off-the-wheel driving behind the wheel of this car. 2017 Volvo S90 is like no other car on the road today.

it’s a trip!