Compact ultimate performance hatchback meets worlds tallest tree: So it goes. Yet another week in the seat behind the wheel of Honda’s latest and greatest Civic performance hatchback. “Ultimate,” is an interesting word, with vast implications as well as a plethora of applicable meaning. Believe it or not, comparing the mighty coastal Redwoods to Honda’s latest and most powerful Civic manifestation is not that much of a stretch when we look to the unique, segment breaching, performance attributes presented in 2017 Honda Civic Type-R Touring.
Well, at the least, California’s original coast highway provides an exceptional, scenic backdrop for Type-R. The road itself is well maintained, narrow, twisty, and fast enough — keep an eye out for the trailer towing tourists. They’re generally slow driving, and many in number. Last week we took a 1,000 mile, 48 hour road trip to Humboldt County, where Civic Type-R carved a path through the historic Avenue of the Giants.
The Coffee Girl at Starbucks loves the edgy look of 2017 Civic Type-R
True enough, on our recent foray from Eugene, Oregon south to Humboldt County, California, Honda’s top of the performance mark Civic Type-R drew more attention than Mick Jagger at a Rolling Stones concert. Even the hardcore Subaru WRX fans came out for a look — walking away grinning after gaining a few minutes of seat time in Honda’s 306 horsepower, turbocharged, limit slip differential, 6 speed manually shifted FWD wonder car.
The 10th generation Civic world platform Type-R lives up to all the media hype
It’s rare that I drive a new car offering that meets or exceeds the stated performance attributes, handling prowess, and fuel efficiency touted by the maker. This is the first Civic to ever wear the Type-R badge in the United States. Yes, a European Type-R with a stated 316 horsepower has broken track records in Europe and Asia, but that’s not the 10th generation Civic platform Type-R that became available for the Honda die hard 2 short months ago.
Our leather and cloth trimmed, cream white, and red and black interior 2017 Civic Type-R test mule is manufactured in England; features a manufactured in Alabama Earth Dreams gasoline engine, and is shifted by a very good close throw, 6 speed manual transmission made in Japan. 2017 Civic Type-R is a world car, manufactured by a world-auto-manufacturer. Frankly, it’s club-car track ready right out of the box.
For $36,000 and change, Civic Type-R is an exceptional, fun to drive performance bargain that’s very happy on the street, thanks to 3-drive modes, including “comfort,” and what I soon discovered to be a very comfortable racing style bucket seat. Me, I’d like power adjustment, but that’s just me.
The Type-R suspension and driving attitude is firm, but not painfully stiff. The instant-on torque and track-sticky cornering traction is a bit of a mind blower, considering that Type-R is a front-wheel-drive car. Honda engineering does a commendable job of reducing torque steer. — sure there’s some there, but it’s very manageable.
On start up, Type-R defaults to “sport” mode. Here you’ll find a stiffer steering feel, a bit more pedal, and reasonably firm suspension. Going on the track, toggle into “R” drive. It’s pretty extreme, and as my Chiropractor will tell you, a bit taxing on the bones. I like what Honda engineering did with Type-R’s exhaust tone, although the deep baritone growl can get a bit load at times.
Visually, Civic Type-R teeters on Bat Man stunning! However, everything you see on Type-R has a purpose, from its whale-tail hatch fin, down to the best looking 20 inch alloy painted wheels in the compact performance segment — Brembo calipers included.
48 hours, 1,000 miles, still smiling Civic Type-R darn near perfect
Once again, Honda’s latest and greatest Civic Hatchback does not disappoint. Read my latest Torque News article as we journey through the California coast redwoods and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
As announced Monday morning by Automotive News, E.V. enthusiast looking to Honda for extended battery electric vehicle range, will be a bit disappointing by Clarity BEV. (Battery Electric Vehicle)
In a recent interview with American Honda, Automotive News was informed that the Clarity platform battery electric follows the example set by the no longer available in the U.S. Fit E.V. — with an approximate 80 mile drive range before requiring recharging. O.K., I was anticipating a bit more!
Will short-range kill the market for Honda’s battery electric Clarity platform variant?
Frankly, I believe when looking to the recently formed hydrogen development alliance between Honda and General Motors, the maker has dedicated facility and resources to the development and marketing of compressed hydrogen fuel cell electric cars. I take a closer look at 2017 Clarity FCV here.
With the 230 mile range Chevy Bolt coming on-line at well under $38,000, before tax incentives, and Tesla shooting for 2018 manufacturing and delivery of the Tesla 3, outside of the hardcore Honda EV loyal, there is little market for Clarity BEV.
Clarity to come in 3 variants
Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Plug-in Hybrid, and Battery Electric
At this point in time it’s nearly impossible to measure what’s referred to as the “white space” in a rapidly expanding and ever-developing E.V. market. The viable future of the electric car rests with battery density, and the manufacturing volume capacity of an emerging battery industry.
In a recent report from automaker Tesla, it’s revealed that battery module cost was 60% of what it was just 5 years earlier. That’s a step in the right direction as auto manufacturers mainstream electrification of personal conveyance. Who will take the immediate lead in the market mainstreaming of the E.V.?
As of this writing the #1 engine manufacturer in the world is Honda — that’s the internal combustion engine. No company has done more to develop and market low to no emissions
I.C.E, and certainly Honda demonstrates market viable applications of electric motors in the NSX supercar, and the now on the highway Clarity FCEV.
At its base core, Clarity Fuel Cell is an electric vehicle. Clarity Battery Electric, for now I’ll take a wait and see position as to the market viability of Honda’s 80 mile range electric. Read my latest take on the Clarity BEV here.
Our collective hats are off to Mr. John Mendel as he vacates the top office at American Honda Motors for greener country pastures. No worries, American Honda Motors remains in very capable hands as 2nd in command Mr. Jeff Conrad picks up the Mic at a time when Honda can do little wrong.
With Accord, Civic and CR-V leading segment sales in the U.S. auto market, the future outlook remains bright for America’s # auto manufacturer. John Mendel leaves A.H.M.C. on a high note, with record sales recorded in 2016 — thanks to the continued sales success of the top-3 — as well as new-found market momentum in Fit and HR-V., both great values, presenting exceptional optional and standard passive and active safety features, Lane Watch, and a very decent transformable ‘magic-seat’ interior.
Ode to Mr. John Mendel, as published today in Honda-Torque News
John Mendel takes a final bow at American Honda
In a world of an eminent ongoing change, there comes a shift at American Honda Motor Company. An auto-world-celebrity in his own right, “Big John” Mendel will be missed.
I meet John Mendel at an Acura TLX event a few years back in Virginia. At that time, I found this big bear of a man, a formidable, well spoken, but effectively the “King” of American Honda Automotive, not overly approachable. With the Takata Airbag related threats would come bodyguards, that too would change.
I would come to consider John a friend as he went out of his way to share with me what he could about the inner workings of Honda, near future developments, and where the maker focused as to alternative transportation, safety, and electrification. Furthermore, I appreciated John’s personal acknowledgement of my work as an automotive journalist.
As it turned out, the more that I got to know John, I would soon come to realized that Mendel epitomized the roll-up-your-sleeves and get it done attitude that drives Honda. What you see with Mendel, is what you get. There’s no false pretense present, he’s a genuine Honda player, and a “car guy,” in the old-school sense of the auto industry.
John Mendel worked his way up through the Ford Motor Company, before transitioning to Mazda, and then Honda Motors in 2004 — just on time for the world-wide recession. He made it through the economic s… storm, Honda made it. John Mendel is well liked by dealers, the automotive press, and associates. Because, at his base corp. he’s one of us, a no-nonsense team player.
Effectively the head of Honda’s U.S. Automotive operations, John Mendel would appear time and time again over the years, sharing the good news, as to industry benchmark setting model roll outs, while putting out media fires, airbag recalls, and the supply chain cause and effect, of earthquake, and tsunami related impact on America’s 4th largest automotive brand.
Through good and bad times, “the buck stopped” at John’s desk, as he masterfully handled diversity, setbacks, and success, masterfully. All, to the bennefit of Honda, and its premium brand Acura, a true professional.
As with all entrepreneurs
As announced yesterday by Honda News, Mr. John Mendel will retire from Honda. He joins his sons in a micro distillery start-up in Mammoth California. I’ll be headed out to “Devil’s Creek Distillery” to sip some moonshine sooner than later, and wish John Mendel smooth sailing towards continued success.
As to the future of American Honda Motors, it’s in good hands with Mr. Jeff Conrad. Stay tuned.
And although American Honda doesn’t disclose individual variant sales numbers,(sedan, coupe, hatchback) I’ll step out on a limb here with a qualified guess that the November arrival of Honda’s turbocharged 5-door hatchback pushed the lineup into a world-class-compact competition, with very positive sales results.
That’s a big deal with American Honda no leading the sales race with 4 contenders taking #1 in class: Honda Accord, Civic Sedan, CR-V SUV and Odyssey Minivan. In short, the buying public has made Honda the fastest growing automotive brand in North America. And crossover/SUV fans: 2017 Honda CR-V arrives with a welcomed surprise or two.
When we look to the numbers, Honda not only builds well over 95% of cars sold in North America, in Canada, Mexico and the U.S., but, when looking to domestically sourced parts percentage, your North American Honda contains a higher percentage of “Manufactured in the U.S.A.”parts than Chevrolet, Dodge or Ford.
As to the engine: Honda’s dedicated to manufactured in the U.S. low displacement, super low friction and near-zero emissions turbocharged 4 cylinder gasoline engines throughout the re engineered lineup. This holds true for the exceptional manufactured in England turbocharged 5-door hatchback. Reflecting on my initial drive time, I find Civic Hatchback to be the most refined offering in the 10th generation lineup. Speaking of auto-innovation, take a look at Honda Clarity.
As to Honda’s latest Civic offering: Say what you will, I appreciate the utility of a compact hatchback; Honda’s quirky good looks, and what I now consider to be the most comfortable power adjusted driver’s seat in the Civic brand.
Was it love at first site? Well no! But much like the proverbial ‘girl next door,” she grows on you.
For those of us who have driven the reinvented 10th generation Honda Civic, there remains little mystery as to why Honda’s latest Civic lineup is soon to cross into the books as the best selling Honda Civic of all time.
With no lack of financially affordable, fuel efficient competition rolling within the ranks of America’s compact sedan and coupe segment, Civic continues to buck the crossover/ SUV purchase trend with unprecedented sales — despite cheep and plentiful gasoline, low purchase interest rates and dealer purchase incentives for larger fuel-thirsty vehicles.
I believe Civic’s sales success is due to Honda’s willingness and manufacturing capacity to produce an affordable, quality, fun to drive compact sedan — featuring midsize interior-like ergonomics, elbow room, and measurable drive and ride comfort. Furthermore, Civic ‘bests’ the compact sedan segment with class topping good looks, engine performance, and what has been called the finest working CVT (constant variable transmission) available in the auto industry today. Agreed!
But for me, a truck, and SUV owner, the 10th generation Civic effectively takes “tiny” out of the drive and ride equation. Remarkably for me, a 6 foot 5 inch tall driver, I find adequate seat adjustment, Head, leg and shoulder room in Civic sedan and coupe, that wasn’t always the case. Furthermore, Civic’s ride and overall road handling dynamic is best in class — all at a very attainable MSRP ($18,740 LX to $26,600 Touring.) How does 2016 Honda Civic hold up in the long run?
Today in Honda-Torque News
Today in Honda-Torque News we discuss why 2016/2017 Honda Civic is Kelly Blue Book’s most awarded car for 2016. When we were first introduced to the 10th generation Honda Civic back in the fall of 2015, on first look it became very evident that Honda bench-marked BMW 3 Series, Audi 4 and other compact European sedans in designing a new beginning for this made in America iconic brand.
Although the occasion of “death from airbag” is rare, it does happen, and in the view of Honda Motor Company and the U.S. Federal National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) once is too often.
Saturday’s Honda News found yet another Takata airbag related warning from the U.S. federal government. According to the source 300,000 high risk turn of the century Honda drivers, those specifically living in wet, hot and humid area’s, have failed to heed Honda’s Takata Airbag recall — a process that’s been in place since 2008, and on hyper drive for the past 24 months. Read the full story here.
8 million Takata airbag systems replaced or repaired in 2015
While that’s a big number, its been estimated by the Fed that 20% of all cars on the road today in the U.S., that’s 50+ million cars and light trucks, have in the past or now carry a defective, possibly life threatening airbag unit.
Why take a chance? The repair, while an inconvenience is free to you the car owner, And in the long run, could save yours or the next owner’s life in a collision. Also, the day will come (soon) that if your vehicle is not recall compliant, it won’t be transferable at time of sale or trade in.
In recapping Honda and Acura news for June 2016, besides the market roll out of several 2017 Honda and Acura car, light truck and crossover models, RACING was the buzz in Honda news.
Coming off of an unprecedented winning streak for Honda powered Indycar, the co-sponsor and safety arm of the 100th running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Hill Climb classic came to the annual race to the clouds with three 2017 Acura NSX supercar variants. Catch my latest Acura racing article here.
From what I read
One 4-motor electric and torque monster modified NSX platform racer running in “Electric Modified,” one near stock NSX running in “Time Attack 2,” and the third? I can’t find any news on it. Here’s my read on Pikes Peak.
The short story here is that 2017 Acura NSX in its first official competition of any kind, drove away with a first place finish in its class, as did the all electric modified NSX.
Getting real with Realtime Racing
In other news we find our friends at “RealTime Racing” taking the podium in Pirelli World Challenge round 12 and 13 at Road America in owner Peter Cunningham’s home state of Wisconsin.
With driver of the #43 TLX-GT car Ryan Eversley taking 1st place in both races and Peter #42
taking 2nd and 4th place respectively, Acura, Honda Performance Development and RealTime Racing just ran their best race in 2 years. Love it! Catch my latest article on Acura racing here. Wishing you a safe and sane 4th of July weekend.
Although my news beat is the world of Honda car, light truck and motorcycle development, most if not all drivers could financially benefit from improved fuel efficiency.
In my latest Honda-Torque News article, I address the concerns of 10th generation, 2016 Honda Civic coupe and sedan drivers — they want more! More fuel efficiency, more horsepower and torque, more interior utility and room, and in short — more Civic for the dollar spent.
2016 Honda Civic Sedan is “North American Car of the Year”
Civic didn’t achieve that lofty accolade by remaining simply a “good” compact sedan. Honda’s 10th generation Civic, designed in California and built in America is constructed on Honda’s ” World Compact Car Chassis,” and is arguably one of if not the greatest visually compelling compact car value found in the segment today.
2016 Civic proves that greater fuel efficiency and power can go hand in hand
There was a time when greater horsepower and torque meant lower MPG (miles per gallon,” that was a given and consumers looking for greater sport were willing to lose fuel efficiency in a quest for high output engine performance.
2016 Honda Civic presents a near premium, measurable performance drive and ride package at an attainable price point through the technical advancements of low friction engine components, direct fuel injection, turbocharging and computer controlled CVT (continuous variable transmission) no shift transmission technology. It’s astounding.
This week further finds the dealership release of the 2nd generation 2017 Honda Ridgeline Pickup. Arguably the most unique light truck offering in the midsize pickup truck segment. Ridgeline is sure to be a sales winner. Check out my latest article on Honda’s unibody pickup truck here.
Last summer while attending the “Honda Dream Garage” event in San Diego , California, I was afforded the opportunity to not only ride with one of the highest regarded racers in motorcycles today, but a true advocate of the sport.
Jeff Tigert is just a guy, pretty much like you and me, with the exception of a national , international race win trophy or two on the shelf — Jeff lives and breathes 2-wheels.
Motorcycles, and the racing of them, is Jeff’s life-time passion. He’s also a proud husband , father. and lifetime motorcycle enthusiasts, with perhaps one of if not the coolest jobs on the planet.
Jeff currently serves as off-road media coordinator for American Honda, specific to the off road play and work department, quads, side by sides, and the occasional African Twin or two.
From where we sit, Jeff Tigert is as much at home ridding a 50 cc Honda Grom as he is on the seat of a factory race prepared Pikes Peak International Hill Climb assault bike. That’s what’s truly cool about Jeff, he leaves his well earned ego at home — remaining truly approachable and subsequently likable, despite a decades-long road race winning track record.
Following the “Honda Dream Garage” event we kept in touch with Jeff, and fired off an emailed question or two as to what it takes to race the highest and perhaps, most dangerous road course in North America. Jeff’s won in his class twice, something that very few racers have accomplished on the annual “Race to the Clouds.”
Unfortunately, following 2015’s tragic crash related death of Pikes Peak veteran Carl Sorensen, the rules have changed as to what motorcycle frame set up will be allowed to race the hill in the future. “Clip-on” handlebars are outlawed in a quest for greater road control, racers like Jeff have kept relatively quiet as to the change in rules, with a wink and a nod as to this seemingly nonsensical ruling.
Parks: “looking to your bike, I see a race prepared machine, can you share with our readers some of the modifications and costs associated with building the Pikes Peak challenger?”
Jeff: We start by removing all of the street based parts off the bike, such as the lights, mirrors, plastic fairings, and then replace the parts with racing fiberglass bodywork which costs about $1,000 for a complete body set. Next step, we replace the front suspension internal parts, as well as replace the rear shock with a more adjustable race shock.
That modification costs about $3,500 including labor to install. To increase engine performance and reduce weight, the stock exhaust is replaced with a titanium race exhaust, which costs about $2,500 and loses 10 lbs. For 2015, we opted to keep the engine stock for both reliability and ease of riding — as too much power becomes hard to ride.
For fuel we run a special race gas, it increases horsepower about 5% but costs $25/gallon. To make the fuel and exhaust work the best together, a fuel injection/ignition tuner is added, which allows us to change fuel mapping and ignition timing at different RPM and Throttle positions. Cost is $1,000 which includes both parts and labor, and spending time on the dyno to make that custom map.
One other electronic aide is the quick shifter, which allows full throttle up shifting. The tires we use are slicks which provide maximum traction, which cost about $500/set. I went through 4 sets over the course of the week and race. [$2,000]
Parks: Jeff, please expand a bit on the support effort. What does it takes for a privateer, or a team sponsored rider to effectively assault Pikes Peak? [Number of crew members, experience of crew, back up bike, equipment, mobile shop, etc.]
Jeff: It requires a huge effort to make this event happen.
I had 3 crew members dedicated for me, to help eliminate any additional work on my end — and allow me to focus only on the race. Having experience there is critical. The first year I ran in 2013, we had consulted one of the top motorcycle teams to help get us up to speed with all the unique aspects that come with racing up the mountain.
I drove one of our set-up sprinter vans that has all the tools and shop equipment plus my backup bike. The backup bike was only a rolling chassis (no engine installed) which allowed us to mount spare suspension, wheels, and bodywork to make transport easier. It was a real life-saver “because I wrecked my primary bike in qualifying.”
Parks: Is the motorcycle / motor rebuilt over the course of the event? Do you carry back up motors, is a competitor allowed more than one(backup) machine?
Jeff: The motor for this event was left completely stock internally; this was our direction to make sure we had an easy, reliable bike to ride. I didn’t even carry a backup motor with us. You are only allowed to tech one machine, so you can’t just roll a second bike out. It’s basically a parts backup.
Parks: You mentioned a 10 day involvement. Talk a bit about the impact on the family, wife, etc.
We touched on the delicate balancing act between family and racing priorities, Pikes Peak is not easy, with or without the support of a partner, wife or girlfriend.
Jeff: Another unique aspect is the length of time you have to spend at the race. Even worse for me, was that I was driving solo to and from the event which added a few days to the trip. This was especially hard for me with the family at home including my 13 month old, who still requires overnight wake ups and feedings. I was fortunate to have my mom come down and stay to help my wife with the kids while I was gone.
Parks: How did your father’s racing carrier impact you as a young adult, did you always want to race? Would you like to see your own children involved in racing?
Jeff: “I always looked up to my dad and his accomplishments”
Dad won the 1975 Daytona Lightweight Production class and was one of the top RD350 racers in the country. He started racing again when I was in high school on a “Two Brothers” Honda Hawk at the local races, and that’s when it hit me, that I wanted to start racing. “He brought me up riding dirt bikes and I was fortunate enough to get my first street bike at 16.”
Parks: Is your dad or other family members involved in the hill climb effort?
Jeff: Besides the bike preparation from my dad which started months in advance and a bit of babysitting help from mom, they have not been directly tied to the race.
Parks: You’ve raced the hill in the past. Expand a bit on this and your racing carrier. What events do you prefer to race? G.P., dirt track, desert endurance, etc…
Jeff: “My first year at Pikes Peak was 2013, and for that year I decided to race a CRF450R motard bike. I figured that was a good entry bike for a first timer there.”
I ended up winning the class with a new class record, and received rookie of the year for motorcycles. Going back to my roots in road racing, my first race was in 1999 with the AFM at Sears Point in Sonoma. I only did 4 races that year, 2000 was my first full season, and I raced the lightweight twins class on an SV650.
I won the championship that year, and focused on moving to AFM 600 classes for 2001. The next 2 years I raced 600’s taking 3 championships over both years, which lead to my first year on 1000’s in 2003. I won 2 more championships that year, including the coveted AFM #1 plate for 2004.
“Unfortunately, I broke my ankle in the first race in 2004 which put me out for defending my titles.”
I was also in my second year at Honda R&D for testing and developing the CBR line-up, and this was definitely a turning point in my life, as I realized how important this job would be for my future.
For the next few years I dabbled in regional racing and even tried to put a full year of AMA Pro effort in 2006 — I ended up missing a few races for work that year though, which hurt my chances at a top ten championship finish.
Honda launched a new CBR1000RR for 2008 model year, and in 2009 I decided to race the entire WSMC (Willow Springs Motorcycle Club) and go after the #1 plate. We wrapped up that year with 3 more championships, the #1 plate, and the championship bonus was a Toyota Tundra Crew Max.
To top that #1 plate off, in 2010 I returned to AFM and won my second #1 plate with that organization.
“My first child was born that next year and I sold all my motorcycles which put me into retirement for a couple of seasons.”
Having good friends has been great over the years as I had a ride opportunity in 2012 to race for my crew chief’s shop.
In my comeback year, I won 3 more regional championships. with CVMA (Chuckwalla Valley Motorcycle Association), and we decided to run the West Coast AMA Supersport Nationals the following year in 2013. This was by far my most successful season, as I was able to get my first AMA Pro podium as well as wrap up 2nd in the championship that year.
I also had the win in the 2013 Pikes Peak 450 class that year. I took yet another year off while having my second child. When I was approached early this year. and asked if I was interested in doing Pikes Peak in the Open Class?’
My only race this year turned out great, as I was able to wrap up that win. If I could, I would still be out there road racing, as it is my main preference, if I was to ride. But, without a road bike at the moment for that, I have been looking to just ride some dirt bikes at the tracks here locally.
My thanks to Jeff Tigert for granting me this interview, as well as his life-time dedication to the sport. Wishing you continued success, happiness and safe riding my friend.