Honda, a brand known for its racing pedigree, is placing a lesser emphasis on outright performance in favor of products that are “fun to drive,” a top executive said last week.
It wasn’t long ago that Honda offered some of the most interesting and exciting performance cars geared at the enthusiast market. The S2000 is still a crowd favorite among car lovers as is the iconic Integra Type R.
With the exception of the upcoming NSX that few will be able to afford, it’s hard not to feel like Honda has given up on building legitimate performance vehicles. With the Civic Si, Honda doesn’t even seem to be concerned with offering something that approaches driving dynamics similar to the Integra Type R, or all-out performance on par with segment rivals like the Mazdaspeed3 or Ford Focus ST. For now, that’s exactly where the company wants to be according to American Honda senior vice president Mike Accavitti.
When pressed about whether or not Honda’s Civic Si models are being left behind by other front-wheel drive compact performance cars, he said the company’s first priority is building something that is fun to drive rather than an outright performer.
“We need to find that common denominator that everyone agrees ‘Yes, this is fun. It’s an affordable car. It’s safe. It’s fun to drive. It serves all my needs,'” he said on the sidelines of the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Rather than offering a higher performing version from the factory, Accavitti says performance products available through Honda Performance Development (HPD) will be enough to meed enthusiast demand. Honda announced on November 5 in Las Vegas that its racing arm will begin offering performance parts for street vehicles starting with a supercharger for the CR-Z hybrid coupe.
“With HPD now creating this serious performance parts division, I don’t want to say the sky is the limit but there certainly are opportunities to offer those type of bits and performance enhancements across our lineup,” he said.
Honda is currently developing a new Civic Type R for the European market with the goal of offering the fastest front-wheel drive vehicle around the Nurburgring. Chances of that model reaching U.S. dealers are probably slim, and Accavitti refused to comment on specifics but said there will be some very exciting products coming down the line.
“We’re always looking. We understand what’s going on with the competition. We understand what’s going on with the market. We know that there’s a need for speed. More performance. We’re looking to see how [to] best solve that,” he said.