Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. There’s also just a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Honda reveals all-new Accord, rebuilt from ground up
Hyundai finally shows i30 N, their first serious performance car
Jaguar E-Pace debuts with a barrel roll for some reason
Ford brings back the Pony Package to 2018 EcoBoost Mustang
JAS Motorsport will take the Civic Type-R touring car racing
Gran Turismo Sport will probably maybe launch this October, possibly
With Dodge Viper production ending, its assembly plant will close
What’s your automotive news?
2018 Honda Accord
Today Honda debuted the all-new, completely redesigned and reimagined 2018 Accord that launches this fall. The 10th-generation Accord is new from the ground up to feature a lighter and more rigid body structure, a new chassis design, two new engines, new hybrid tech, and loads of new in-car safety and convenience features. That’s all wrapped in a sleek new design, the first all-new design for an Accord in a long time.
Designers and engineers sought to give it sporting characteristics from the very get go. The car has a sportier stance thanks to a longer wheelbase (+2.16″) yet shorter overall length (-0.39″), lower overall height (-0.59″), and slightly wider body (+0.39″). With shorter overhangs and a sweeping greenhouse positioned further back in the body, it’s got Sports Car Design 101 aced.
Taking full advantage of the sportier proportions, Honda designers aimed for a more dynamic design with a “bold” and upright front fascia highlighted by Honda’s chrome wing positioned above a larger air intake. It also has a more chiseled hood with a raised central section, deeply sculpted body sides, and a “dramatically” arched roof. But the sportiness goes much deeper than that, as its whole body structure is lighter and more rigid thanks to 54.2% high strength steel body construction. Depending on trim, the Accord is up to 176 pounds lighter and up to 32% stiffer.
The Accord also boats a larger and more premium interior packed with tech and driver-centric features. Drivers will appreciate a panoramic forward view made possible by a lower cowl and thinner A-pillars moved further back. Tactile and visual quality of interior materials and decorations was under increased scrutiny and upgraded to create a sort of soft-spoken elegance throughout the cabin. The seats are all repositioned for greater freedom of movement and have extra bolstering and padding. The longer wheelbase also means more legroom for back seat passengers. The driver’s seat now has 12-way power adjustments plus heating and cooling – even the back seats have heating now too.
An increased focus on in-car tech brings a new 7-inch TFT driver’s meter, a full color HUD on Touring models, and a new 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen interface with physical volume and scrolling knobs and a smartphone-like home screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported and it’ll also offer the latest Hondalink telematics with emergency roadside assistance, remote lock/unlock and engine start, stolen vehicle tracking, remote diagnostics, and more.
Passengers can benefit from wireless device charging, automatic Bluetooth pairing through NFC (just tap your phone to the chip and it’s paired), a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, various USB charging ports, and a range of audio system options.
Two of the latest direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder engines and Honda’s newest two-motor hybrid powertrain technology make up the three powertrain options buyers are presented with. The standard 1.5-liter unit produces 192 hp/192 lb.-ft. and is paired with a CVT or a six-speed manual on the sport trim. The bigger 2.0-liter i-VTEC unit, which shares much of its design with the new Civic Type-R engine, produces 252 hp/273 lb.-ft. paired with a ten-speed automatic or six-speed manual. No more V6 Accords, but a Type-R-like engine will do.
The Accord Hybrid uses a new 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine with greater than 40% thermal efficiency (a Honda record) paired with Honda’s own electric motors, which are the first in the world to use magnets containing no rare earth metals. Thanks to smarter packaging of all the hybrid systems under the rear floor, trunk space and back seat folding flexibility are not impacted at all compared to pure gas models.
An all-new suspension setup featuring MacPherson struts up front, L-shaped aluminum control arms mounted to an all-aluminum front subframe, multilink rear suspension, and an Accord-first Active Damper System translates to a better ride and more enjoyable handling characteristics.
So there you have it. It’s a completely redone Accord with significant improvements made just about everywhere. It’ll go on sale this fall and by then we’ll have official EPA estimates and pricing. It’s also worth noting that all 2018 Accord variants, including the Hybrid, will be built in Marysville, Ohio. The Accord at Marysville was the first Japanese car built in America and they’re responsible for 11,000,000 units since. Engines will be built in Anna, Ohio and the transmissions will be built in Russells Point, Ohio and Tallapoosa, Georgia.
Hyundai i30 N
It’s been a few years in the making, but Hyundai has finally revealed the first of their high performance “N” models, the i30 N. Designed from the ground up to be a well-rounded performance car while retaining all its hatchback practicality, the i30 N is entering an arena that’s filled with veterans like the Golf GTI/R, Focus ST/RS, and others. As of now, it’s only confirmed to go on sale in Europe, a region that knows a thing or two about fast hatchbacks. Let’s see how it’ll stack up.
One thing they’ve already gotten right is their test track of choice, the infamous Nürburgring. Hyundai set up shop nearby and logged over 6,000 miles on the Green Hell between normal testing and competing in two ADAC 24 Hours of Nürburgring races. No lap times have been posted, but don’t expect it to be slow – or boring. When developing the i30 N, it was on the basis of this strange concept known as “fun to drive”. In particular, it’ll be a “corner rascal”, a true everyday sports car, and it’ll have real race track capabilities.
Hyundai really are prioritizing the fun factor here by emphasizing driving pleasure and the car’s emotional impact rather than pure numbers. Things like a standard short-throw six-speed manual with [defeatable] rev matching, overboost for a temporary torque increase, and a sonorous variable valve exhaust system promise to make this car a real joy to drive.
Even though they don’t focus on the numbers as much, they’re still pretty impressive. It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine with 271 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Keeping to their word about feels above numbers, they didn’t disclose any acceleration or top speed data but promised a responsive engine with linear power development through an early responding turbo. All power goes exclusively to the front wheels where an electronic limited-slip differential helps sort things out. It also has launch control and configurable stability control.
Helping it attain “corner rascal” status is direct and precise steering, a new rear stiffness bar behind the back seats, a lower center of gravity, and Michelin or Pirelli high-performance tires. A new Electronic Controlled Suspension system allows the driver to control damper settings between stiffer track-oriented settings with reduced body roll or softer settings for commuting.
The sporty aero kit on the i30 N does have real benefits in addition to looking cool. It includes Hyundai’s cascading grille plus more aggressive front and rear bumpers and a rear spoiler. It benefits track enthusiasts by reducing lift, thus improving high speed stability, and also helping to provide additional cooling to the brakes. 18 or 19-inch wheels are available.
As mentioned earlier, this car competed under wraps in the last two 24-hour endurance races at the Nürburgring and everything has been evaluated to ensure its overall track capability and reliability. It survived 24 hours on the Green Hell, so it can probably survive your next track day session.
Yeah, Hyundai N isn’t fooling around. Pricing info wasn’t released and it hasn’t been confirmed for availability outside of Europe. The i30 is sold in America as the Elantra GT, so maybe someday it can be ported over… possibly. Probably not.
As promised, Jaguar revealed the all-new E-Pace compact luxury SUV following the teaser released a few weeks ago, which I think somehow already told us everything we needed to know. As with every other compact luxury SUV or crossover, the predictability is real. Maybe that’s why Jaguar felt the need to capture our attention by having it do a barrel roll during its debut.
Its “sports car design” includes short front and rear overhangs, an “assertive” face, teardrop side windows inspired by the F-Type, a fast swept roofline, and muscular rear haunches.
Inside, the interior design and layout seeks to amplify the driving experience while enveloping passengers in a high quality cabin. This is Jaguar we’re talking about, so of course it’ll be nice. Because SUV, there’s plenty of storage throughout the cabin, including a center console compartment large enough to store four large water bottles plus generous space in the glove box and rear door pockets. It offers 24.2-cu.ft. of trunk space with the 60:40 folding rear seats in place and a wide 41.6-inch load compartment between wheel wells.
A standard 10-inch touch screen infotainment system reduces the number of hard switches and an optional 12.3-inch HD virtual Interactive Driver Display and full color Head-Up Display give the driver easy access to everything that matters. A 15-speaker Meridian premium sound system is available, a 4G W-Fi hotspot is standard on most models, connected navigation with real-time traffic is standard on most, there’s plenty of device charging options, and of course plenty more in-car tech to choose from.
Depending on the trim level, the E-Pace is powered by all-aluminum 2.0-liter turbocharged four-bangers with 246 hp/269 lb.-ft. or 296 hp/295 lb.-ft. In America, AWD and a nine-speed automatic is the mandated equipment. It’ll have a decent amount of power and good traction from AWD, but the stiff and relatively lightweight chassis and compliant suspension will supposedly make this a true driver’s compact SUV… we’ll see about that.
With prices starting at $38,600 or $41,500 for the S model with most of the good features, it’s a well-equipped and somewhat attractive offering in a market that’s become saturated by too many well-equipped and less attractive offerings. Maybe Jaguar can stand out with the E-Pace and become the compact SUV of choice for drivers who were forced to give up their better car, or maybe it’ll be just another compact SUV we can all ignore. We’ll find out closer to its early 2018 launch date.
Ford is bringing back the Pony Package with the 2018 Mustang EcoBoost. The appearance package that’s always been available on V6 Mustangs since 2005 or so is now an EcoBoost-exclusive with retro styling touches that date back to the 60’s. The Pony Package adds the famous pony-in-corral grille badge, 19-inch polished aluminum wheels, bright beltline and window trim for the fastback model, premium carpeted floor mats with the Mustang logo, side stripes, and the tri-bar pony badge on the rear decklid. The 2018 Mustang is due in showrooms this October. Pricing for this package is not yet available.
The Honda Civic Type R is going racing next year, as teased by JAS Motorsport. They will soon debut the Type R in TCR (touring car) spec with an all-new aero package, new multilink rear suspension, new anti-roll bars, a new ECU, and full roll cage. They’re also planning to release an endurance version as well. Deliveries to race teams will start this December and it’ll be coming to a touring car race near you in 2018.
[Source: JAS Motorsport]
Gran Turismo Sport finally has its first release date to miss. Currently scheduled to release in North America and most of Asia on October 17th, Europe on the 18th, and Japan on the 19th, it’ll be the first GT title on the Playstation 4, which is already probably halfway through its life cycle. That’s how Polyphony Digital rolls. That said, it looks promising. Check out the launch trailer and start placing bets on when it’ll be delayed till.
With the Dodge Viper going out of production, possibly forever this time, the Conner Assembly Plant is closing down for good. Doors will shut on August 31st, the same day that the last Viper is scheduled to be finished. The plant employs a little over 80 people who build the V10 monster by hand and have been for the last 25 years, more or less. Sales have been slow pretty much since the latest Viper debuted and they only sold 630 last year, so this was a long time coming. Fortunately, FCA believes they can find somewhere else for the affected workers to go. Until then, cherish this last month-and-a-half in a world where the Viper is still in production.
[Source: Automotive News]
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.
[Image © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]