Honda Placing ‘Fun to Drive’ Over Outright Performance

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Honda Placing ‘Fun to Drive’ Over Outright Performance

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.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Honda Civic Si vs 1998 Acura 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.

  • oknahs

    Lets talk about a performance fun car for a mere $23k that gets 38 mpg hiway. Its looks sporty has paddle shifters dual exhaust right in the center of the rear bumper and pumps out a incredible 208 hp. Its the Hyundai Veloster. I test drove one and its a monster in a little package. Great handling, fun to drive and hits the price point perfectly. My next fun car.

  • Shiratori1

    Thanks Hyundai Marketing Representative #XXXXXX. You can stop now. 😛

  • oknahs

    Owner of Jeep Commander, Hyundai Elantra (150k 2002) 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo and Corvette and part owner Challenger 392 (my daughter car)aviator). Car people enjoy hearing from others on opinions, views, and ownership evaluations. Car people enjoy hearing from those that have their opinions and what they may own and enjoy. Hearing from you sends a bad message to me as a car guy. Get off your rocking chair and share some stuff you like about the cars you own or have a opportunity to drive. Be nice!

  • Shiratori1

    I don’t give a rats behind about your opinion of me.

  • Mark Gold

    Paddle shifters are for lazy people. Luckily, Hyundai does offer the Veloster with a proper manual transmission. Not that I would buy a Veloster, but it’s good to know it’s available in stick shift.

  • Harold

    The Veloster is a terrible choice. The manual transmission is junk, the chassis stinks and on top of that you’re tooling around in a hatchback. No thanks.

  • Phil

    yea the veloster is goofy looking, and hyundai can’t build a good manual transmission.

  • CarGeek

    Veloster – 200ft lb of torque, no LSD no thanks.

  • Mark Gold

    I’ve heard the manual in the Genesis coupe is pretty good, and for a few thousand more than a Veloster turbo you can get into a Genesis 2.0 R-spec.

  • ColumWood

    I can assure you, the shifter in the Genesis Coupe is worse than in the Veloster.

  • Mark Gold

    Interesting. For a car that’s marketed as being track/enthusiast oriented, it’s a shame that the manual transmission isn’t very good. I’m curious, what makes it so bad?

  • ColumWood

    It’s very notchy and pretty much refuses to do a 3-2 downshift with any enthusiasm at all. When I drove it back-to-back with the FR-S I described it as feeling like a tractor.

  • Mark Gold

    Okay, thanks for clarifying that. In the next six months my fiancée will be looking for a sporty (manual-equipped) coupe to replace her full-sized tuck as her daily driver. She’s thinking about the Toyobaru, but will be considering other candidates as well. It sounds like the Genesis is probably going to be out of the running, especially since she wants it with stick. The G35/G37 is on the list along with the BMW 1-series (yes, I know all of those are now replaced with newer models, but she’s interested in picking up a pre-owned model).

  • ColumWood

    I’d still give it a test drive. Depending on the driving style it might not be an issue. You do get a lot more in the luxury department than with a Toyobaru.

  • Somnambulator

    Ive not driven a Veloster (i dig the styling tho) and am in general a fan of the “new” hyundai…but 208hp even at 2800lbs is barely “sporty”. certainly it’s lighter, by far, than most modern cars, but it’s still nothing special. crank up the hp to mid-200’s and youve got another thing entirely. It could compete with the ST and MS3 at 250hp, but would still need refinement.

  • oknahs

    Fun car at the $23k. Add another $1000 and get a kick in the ass with some dry nitrous shot. Say 50hp shot and you now have a inexpensive fun car.

  • Mark Gold

    There’s absolutely no reason why Honda can’t offer a true performance model. If they offer all sorts of go fast parts through HPD then why can’t they simply sell an HPD-specific model with all of those parts already installed at the factory. With an attitude like that it’s no wonder cars like the Focus ST and Mazdaspeed 3 are so popular. Factory hot rods complete with a warranty!

  • CarGeek

    HFP models and add-on would follow the power train warranty if bought at original time of purchase. If you bought it later you would get a 1 yr warranty. Just like the Mugen Si there really is no increase in performance just price… people like the Mugens because they are 1 of… and they feel like they picked it out of a cereal box. My defense was, take a 20k 4dr Si. and add 10k in parts to it see what you can come up with.

  • Mark Gold

    My thinking behind an HPD model versus adding on the parts later is the same reason I prefer buying my Mac with the upgrades already installed (CTO-configured to order). I don’t want to have to crack the case open after the fact, or pay someone else to do it. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with adding parts after the fact (or at the time of purchase), but again, it’s more complete when it happens on the factory line versus at the dealer.

    It’s not unlike the true story of a guy who ordered a custom colored BMW M3 using the BMW Individual program. The factory painted it the wrong shade of blue then offered to strip out the interior and repaint it. Putting it back together would never have the same build feel and quality as when the car was first put together.

  • Phil

    i’m totally cool with buying an Si and fit it with my choice of HPD accessories, wether that’d be a lowered suspension and/or supercharger.
    ”to each their own”

  • CarGeek

    I love you AutoGuide, I like the question but Honda has been dead. The Fact that the Si is marketed as their sportiest car, oh and you have the Accord Coupe, yay… Honda has lost it’s mojo half a decade ago.
    I drive a FA5 Si (luv it), and my wife has an Accord. No way I would drive a 9th gen Si.
    Also HPD is a joke. They’re about 10 years too late. Tuners turn to older Hondas because they are cheap and reliable. Scion tried the in-house customization, TRD, aftermarket Cold-Air etc. and it bust. (See: Toyota Dealers Dropping Scion)
    When I was selling Honda I used to slang Si’s and I had 1 person buy an 8th gen and added on an HFP suspension at time of delivery. HPD is a great idea for the CR-Z, they actually listened to everyone who said “MOAR POWER” but how many people are actually going to buy it with a 29k price tag? Why wouldn’t they drop the hybrid system, save weight, and put seats in the back?
    A true enthusiast would not pay the markup for a HPD supercharger that is scaled back for reliability/ fuel economy… they would go out buy Jackson/CT/ whatever and do it themselves. I would like to see Honda bring it. Do something do the new Si’s. I’d like to see it but I wouldn’t buy it.

  • Somnambulator

    this is a shame…it only means there’s gonna be more ricer cars with glasspacks tooling around annoying the crap out of literally everyone else in america. if Honda would build faster cars from the factory i would hope many of these buyers wouldn’t feel the need to destroy their cars with resonators.

  • Honest Abe

    AMEN!

  • Phil

    lmao ,.. really!? people like tuning cars, live with it! a faster honda outta production wouldn’t equal less tuners …but thanks for the good laughs!!

  • Somnambulator

    eh tuners are fine…my car is tuned and has some basic mods…it does not, however, have a glasspack welded into the exhaust that sounds like a child’s 50cc put-put dirt bike.

  • Mick

    but some people don’t want to pay extra for higher performance that is standard with some other cars

  • Mick

    they need more RWD and more power cars. I have a turbo RSX-S I love

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