Honda is dead, long live Honda

If that title isn’t click bait-y enough…

Well, Yesterday Honda new CEO Takahiro Hachigo held a press conference and basically threw a lot of thing upside down inside out left to right and back and forth.

You can read Hachigo-san summary here, but here’s what I think.

Hachigo-san took a butcher knife and hack the hell out of Honda management and decision making process.

Buried under all that rose colored wordings, is the management change that Honda sorely needed or not… I don’t know… It’s all very confusing. Under Takanobu Ito leadership from 2009 to 2015, Honda for lack of better term is going through a peculiar time. During Ito-san leadership we saw Honda great three hybrid solution and the first ever mass produced turbo engine for almost than 3 decades on the Civic and JDM StepWGN. We also see the development of NSX and plenty of interesting cars such as ILX and TLX coming equipped with 8 speed dual clutch transmission and 9 speed auto that puts it finally with the “numbers aficionado” that is premium car buyers. We also see the record breaking Mobilio introduced in Indonesia that boost Honda sales beyond whatever they can imagine.

Yet, for every new interesting products Honda made for that time period under Ito-san, there’s always a hitch here and there. The Fit hybrid, employing the new hybrid system had a back and forth recall. The JDM StepWGN turbo engine is acceptable but not as revolutionary as expected, almost as if the usage of turbo is unnecessary for the car. Honda new (actually outsourced) 9 speed auto has a slight hiccup here and there. The Civic had its new 2.0L engine recalled, not even after 3 months of its introduction. There’s also airbag recall, but that’s third party event, out of reach from Honda.

Hachigo-san statement especially this one worries me… or not…

We will establish a structure where development teams at the spot can concentrate on creating automobiles and focus on the development of one whole vehicle as one product under a consistent concept. To be more precise, we will add some new positions, including new positions in charge of the area of product development, a new position in charge of conducting evaluations from the standpoint of the entire vehicle consistently for all models and new positions in charge of supervising design creation of Honda and Acura models, respectively, on a global basis. Through these changes, we will realize a development structure that can further highlight the unique characteristics of Honda.

This means that product development is going to be centralized. Is this good or bad? As I have concern for Acura in particular about this development.

Acura supposed to be the premium of Honda, but for the longest time, near premium is the only title Acura can be proud of. All of Acura products are basically premium version of the Honda cars it’s based on. ILX = Civic, TLX = Accord, RDX = CR-V, MDX = Pilot. Aside from RLX and Legend which is just basically badge engineered of the two and the NSX, all are just souped up Honda.

In 2014, Acura got a “task force” led by Erik Berkman, Honda America executive vice president, tasked to set up the planning for Acura product for the future. So with Hachigo-san shakedown, what happened with the task force?

In 2008 Honda finally gave in into the premium market market push and actually going to gun for the flagship premium at the likes of BMW and Mercedes. A spy shot was captured showing an Acura TSX with long wheel base and long dash to axle ratio indicating rear wheel drive. This push was part of two previous Honda CEO, Takeo Fukui project.

It seems that for every Honda CEO change there’s always a funky change be it organizational structure or management change. Hachigo-san push for a centralized design hopefully ends up sticking for the foreseeable future, and for every change of CEO doesn’t mean a constant change of strategy. Just make sure that future product planning is done carefully and with prudence.

It’s okay for Honda to take time to roll out new technology, fans will wait. Once somebody has been touched by a Honda product, they will always comes back.


With a new slogan, “Precision Crafted Performance”, Acura finally unveiled its king in slumber, the second generation NSX on Detroit Auto Show with a fizz, a buzz, and a poof.


The Acura NSX concept dated from three years ago is obsolete as the production model has bigger dimension and gain plenty of surface detail while losing some minor ones. Most notable is the bigger side intake pods and the bigger hood vents, now positioned more towards the middle of the hood. The rear loses some intricate detail but retains some unique details such as sculpted opening at the base of the trunk. The front fascia screams Acura through and through with the signature LED jewel eye headlights and the now sedated beak which now looks a lot like Mazda signature smile with massive openings. Many are as  king about what the purpose of those three huge opening is on the NSX concept NSX chief engineer, Ted Klaus giving an explanation, it is to cool the electric motor and components as well to provide aerodynamic ground effect as the air comes out from the hood vents towards the back.

The unique floating c pillar, made famous by gothic church architecture dubbed a flying buttress serves both as structure and aerodynamic aid. It is stated that as air sucked into the front of the car, it comes out from the hood vent, flows through the flying buttress and give the rear an aerodynamic push.  The NSX rear, largely unchanged from the concept, features a huge bottom diffuser and two openings near the edge of the bumper. This is also an aerodynamic aid as air exits through it to help with down force. By Ted Klaus statement, an active aerodynamic aid (mostly in the form of electronically controlled rear wing) is not needed for NSX as it achieved all of its aerodynamic function from just its design.


The biggest change and one that is very important for the car is the change of engine from a transversely mounted naturally aspirated V6 combined with electric motor, to longitudinally mounted turbo charged V6 combined with electric motor. Even though the combined output from the original design should be respectable, it would not be enough in the world of big V8 and turbocharged engines from the likes of Nissan GT-R and the new German performance line. Being transverse, the engine package will be compact to allow many utilities such as bigger trunk like the original NSX. But like the original NSX, it was damn hard to add more power to a transverse drivetrain, adding turbocharger is almost impossible without major change in the internal tubing, wiring, and mounting. There are even rumors about major infighting in Honda about the engine choice as the American team wanted a turbocharged engine while the Japanese team wanted a naturally aspirated one. Somehow, logic prevailed, and the NSX finally gets its much deserved turbocharged unit.


Why the NSX needs to go the force induction route? Because a lot of things really, but mostly it’s all about future proofing the car. The original NSX went through its 15 years of life with just two engine revision, with 20 horsepower increase between both. If somehow Acura didn’t go into the 6 year cycle to update styling and power, with a turbocharge engine, they can just increase boost, refine the engine mapping and get more power easy. For comparison, Nissan GT-R, was launched with “only” 480 horsepower back in 2009. The same engine now produce 545 horsepower in the base trim while the performance Nismo variant gets 595 horsepower, an increase of 115 horsepower in 6 years from the same engine.

Ted Klaus stated that the NSX will come “north” of 550 horsepower, and like the Civic Euro Type R, that number is a base estimate with production version gaining more power . With this route, Acura can easily offer an NSX Type S with around 600 horsepower.

The NSX utilizing a hybrid setup also should achieve great numbers on paper, especially for spec hunters who only see numbers instead of real life performance. An internal combustion engine achieves its maximum power at peak engine rotation, which takes time. Compounded with turbochargers which takes time to spool to boost the engine, you’ll have plenty of “where is the power” moment or the famous “Vee-TACH just kick yo!” when the engine finally reaches peak power. With an electric motor which provides peak power as low as 1000 RPM, it can help boost the engine power early before the turbocharger spooled and provides boost on the top.

Another technical aspect to note is the new dual clutch 9 speed transmission. Honda introduced its own developed dual clutch 8 speed transmission for the new line of Acura TLX and ILX. While there’s a ZF sourced 9 speed transmission that is being used on the V6 version of TLX and rumored to be available on the upcoming Honda Pilot, it is a single clutch design aimed to increase fuel efficiency rather than outright performance.

It’s too early to say that Acura is back to form of its greatest era, the nineties. The Legend, a car with classical design, performance and value that rivals the Germans. The Integra, a car that proves engine size is nothing without balance. The NSX, a supercar with sense, reliability and value. Those three cars opens up what defines Acura as a performance luxury brand. Over the years however, Acura became diluted, chasing an imaginary numbers which should be the domain of Honda. The pursuit of performance grinded and Acura became a Honda+ solution, down to its mechanics.

The NSX was not the start, Acura TLX was the breakthrough product for the brand. Yes it uses Accord engine and platform, but even just using a different transmission, it is enough for the car to differentiate itself from the supposedly “pedestrian” brand. It would be great if the Acura brand can get its own platform, but that’s another story, as everything starts now.

For an abridge design change for the NSX, here it is, in its 3 glory years of development.

Acura TLX 2015 – Acura Design At Its Finest

It’s easy to dislike Acura, Honda long historied premium brand does not fare so well in America, where it first debut back in the late 80’s. Being beaten in sales by the likes of the German premiums and even by its Japanese compatriot, Lexus which happens to arrive later in the decade is not something to brag upon.

The problem lies on Acura management or even Honda HQ questionable decision to make Acura as Super Honda or Honda+. There’s nothing wrong, it’s just that there is still a Honda baggage and identity carried around by the brand which should hastily distant itself from an entry level mass market product image.

The first problem every Acura faces as of late is in the mechanical side of things. Acura cars are making do with what’s available on Honda side of things with only a slight modification. K24 engine straight from Honda Civic Si or K24 Accord  with higher compression ratio. J35 engine modified from Accord/Odyssey/Pilot with slight update on VTEC on intake and exhaust side. The 6 speed automatic transmission is nice, it’s unique to Acura but the competitions has move on with 7 speed automatic transmission and even some goes up to 9 speed automatic transmission, making Acura seems out of touch with the market.

The second problem lies on the design of the Acura products. It is just too bland looking. Ever since Acura adopts the new power plenum design in 2008 Acura TL debut, the brand tried to distance itself from Honda by using an “in your face” approach. The bold huge chrome filled shield like grille was dubbed the beak in its early days since the car that debuts with it have a pronounced reverse trapezoid form with gaping distance and a protruding lower bumper, creating a beak like visual. It was a bold move, but one that Acura designers tone down by a lot due to media and consumers negative responds. What is left is a car with a mismatch of design aspects.

Acura still sticks to the power plenum, but the result is a mixed bag, it works relatively good on the MDX and RDX since both cars are tall SUV, the stretched and refined grille looks fine on wide surfaces. The recent entry level Acura sedan, the ILX also carried a good representation of the power plenum, with wide lower air dam which contemplates the lines of the grille. Yet, the top of the line RLX misses out with weird protruding lower bumper and tall accented front wheel arch.

With that said, there is a lot going on for the release of Acura new car, the TLX. Fans, media and consumers are expecting a plenty from the car which is going to replace two model at the same time, the TL and the TSX. The TSX or Accord Euro is a midsize sedan famous for carrying the sporty notion to Accord nameplate once it splits into two line at the start of 2000 sporting a smaller size than the porkier last generation Accord and powered with a potent 200 horsepower engine. The TL, Acura bread and butter sedan is a large car which offers a powerful V6 and loaded with Acura exclusive all wheel drive system.

Hopes are high for the TLX, as sales of Acura sedan was dropping. ILX sedan although visually good, lacks the punch of a luxury vehicle in terms of options and power. It comes with a partly 2.0L engine with the more powerful 2.4L engine only available as manual trim. The RLX top of the line sedan has a polarizing but sedate look. Sure the ILX are rumored to receive powertrain update and the RLX more powerful sports hybrid are getting favorable reviews (with the same complaint of design), still, it was not a good time for Acura sedans.

Then 14 – 1 – 14 arrived, and the TLX happened.

It was a climactic reveal. The TLX, while sporting the much debated power plenum front end exemplary showcase the best use of the design, much better than even the top of the line RLX. There is still front overhang which comes inherited by front wheel transversely mounted engine cars, but it is decent, and not pronounced more with a jutted lower bumper like the RLX.

The proportion is wondrous, the tall belt line and seemingly small side windows creates a sports car like proportion. All are finished off with a tapered and swept back shape which gives the car that “looking fast standing still” look.

There is some Honda design touches, where two creases from front and back overlaps each other, but with such lateral angles, it pronounced the sporty looks of the car much more.

From technical side of things, the car is met with mixed response. It still carries Honda own K24 and J35 which you can find in the Accord. Luckily, TLX owners will find improved power from those engines per the usual practice of Acura of past. For the naysayers, the K24 seems redundant for a car which was exclusively offered on a V6 engine option, will it be underpowered? Cannot say much at this point. The TSX was a smaller car than the TL, so the K24 is enough, but Acura haven’t yet release the specific of the car, namely its weight. So it’s nothing more than conjunction at this point whether the K24 will be underpowered or not.

The TLX will debut the use of 8 speed dual clutch automatic transmission on the 2.4L engine and get this… 9 speed (unspecified tech) automatic transmission for the 3.5L engine. Honda recently developed an in house 8 speed dual clutch automatic transmission (well, Honda recently developed A LOT of things, which I haven’t got the time to write about) for mid size cars using 2.0-3.0 Liter engines, and it is much expected on the TLX debut. The 9 speed gearbox is one which plenty questions about, including yours truly. The TLX was expected to debut last year, but was postponed until middle of 2014. Some say Honda was further testing the TLX with a turbo engine, while some says Honda is fitting the TLX with a 9 speed transmission from ZF, a German gearbox manufacturer which produces gearboxes for German brands such as Mercedes and BMW. If the latter is true, then this opens up a new mindset for Acura, nay, Honda in general.

Honda is a very conservative company. A company that is (too) proud of itself sometimes. This is given, one which is an enduring and respectable trait of a company which mimics the late Soichiro Honda attitude towards self sufficiency. Honda mostly develop their transmission in house, sans few specific models which I can only points out at S2000 which uses Aisin 6 speed manual gearbox. Why in house, because it can be put to test internally and catered specifically to Honda products. But the development time of Honda gearboxes are slow, Honda 4 speed automatic gearbox has been around for almost 2 decades, and Honda 6 speed automatic gearbox in the Acuras are mostly a refinement and gear addition of the old automatic gearbox.

The new dual clutch transmission according to Honda will give 8 percent improvement of efficiency and 10 percent improvement of acceleration. With plenty of gears, the lower gears can be very short while the higher gears can be extra long, giving punchy acceleration and low RPM on cruising. We all know that, but what about the 9 speed? Honda/Acura is never known to brag about numbers, the 8 speed dual clutch transmission is plenty of gear already, so why the need for the 9 speed gearbox? Does the 8 speed cannot handle the torque of the bigger engine?

All in all, the TLX is looking mighty fine. The pictures here are still in prototype form, and there will be toning down to measure. The front and rear bumper might feature slightly less fierce looking trim and the the aerodynamic side view mirror will give way to the usual chunky housing. It’s good enough as it is for me though.

It’s a good start for the new year Acura… Now give the TLX the turbocharged engine, and I will eat that goat eye soup.

Source: Acura TLX Prototype unveiled at NAIAS 2014 TLX future car

Honda Hotness Is Coming Back?

2008 was a great year for Honda fans and maybe even for automotive scene in general. Just imagine this, Honda, a conservative company who swears on sensibility and quality is throwing those notions away for a V8 rear wheel luxury sedan and a V10 powered super car. The automotive scene roars with high expectations. Spy photos of the rear wheel sedan test car is everywhere and the super car already making runs on a race track. Alas, comes 2009 and demand for automotive products dwindles as most sought after cars are econoboxes. Honda new President, Takanobu Ito back then changed his tune about the new cars and tells the fans and the scene to go “enjoy yourself” (there’s a new profanity filter in effect). So everything was scrapped, and all hopes out the window.

Denied luxury: The canceled mule of the FR Luxury Sedan

Rumors from inside automotive industry said that the V8 rear wheel luxury sedan which was destined to go to Acura division was a great car one that should put Honda luxury division on par with tier 1 luxury marque. While the super car lives on as a special fielded race car on Japan’s most prestigious racing event, the Super GT and won it. So as you can read, it’s very unfortunate for Honda to cancels both of these cars altogether.

Denied performance: Reportedly, this car doesn’t even consider GT-R and LF-A as competition

But this morning, birds are chirping beautifully on my front porch, the wind blows softly and the sun rose with a hint of blue and orange altogether. While I browsed Autoblog and Temple of VTEC the next minute, I was shocked out of my pants that Takanobu Ito in a way hints a little hope of a super car comeback after Honda discontinued the NSX. Apparently, Takanobu Ito was interviewed in Japan and some reporters asked if Honda would make a road going version of the super car that won the Super GT.

Ito’s answer for the question was “I have something in mind”. Now for those who don’t know Takanobu Ito, this guy is all straight as an arrow kind of leader. He always answers question in a definite way, yes or no and that’s that. For Ito to answer “having something in mind” well, it’s still ambiguous but having something is better than nothing right?

Such a tease: “I have something in mind”

Okay, so the news came from a French auto news site, which might make some little mistranslation (from Japanese to French to English). However, according to Temple of VTEC news section;Yahoo Japan and Asahi Shimbun also confirms and clearly stated that Takanobu Ito greenlight the project once again. Asahi Shimbun which post the news in English also mentions that Ito hints at making two sports car, the affordable and high performance… *faints*…

For those who don’t know, this is actually earth shattering news. Honda currently has no true performance sports car in its lineup, well, sure there’s the Civic Type R, but it’s more of a pedestrian car with souped up engine. Honda Prelude ends its production in 2001, Honda NSX ended in 2005, Honda Integra ended in 2007 and finally Honda S2000 ended in 2009. What came from the demise of those cars? Hybrids and lots of it. Civic Hybrid, Insight 2.0, CR-Z, and Fit Hybrid, not to mention Freed Hybrid and next generation Accord with Honda next generation hybrid system.

The shift from hardcore to green for some was considered too rough as there are no transition product in between. It’s quite understandable actually, as technology to produce performance with fuel economy wasn’t available yet. The  2010 CR-Z was Honda answer to this and although the blend of performance and fuel economy is good enough, as usual,  some consumers demand more… Well, to be fair… This particular consumer is too accustomed to huge ass performance gas guzzler 2 door sports car that’s bigger than a Honda Fit. Still, the CR-Z receives acclaims and accolades in a place where sensibility is praised.

But remember folks, Honda has set its sight straight in the green line and we’re not talking about money. Ever since the green revolution in the late 00′ Honda has been making fuel sipper as priority. So when you think about Takanobu Ito statement, don’t forget to add the green juice. Honda has fielded NSX with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System, a form of hardcore hybrid system for racing) as a test bed for SuperGT 2012 rule change that mandates smaller engine and a hybrid system. It’s unclear whether this will be applied to Honda super car but you can be sure Honda will put every single piece of technology in its super car.

Front engine – KERS NSX test car: notice the exhaust tip on the side skirt?

Whatever it is Honda… We are awaiting with arms wide open, but until this car shows up in the real world, I’m putting a question mark on the title. We’ve been burned before Ito-san, and I won’t let my heart be broken the fourth time.


Temple of VTEC: Ito san changing his tune about NSX/HSV

Yahoo Japan: NSX development to resume (Japanese)

Asahi Shimbun: Honda to develop high performance sports car

SuperGT: 2012 KERS rule

Debut Honda HSV Memenangkan Balapan Super GT

Pada debut balapan perdana, Honda dengan mobil HSV-nya langsung menyabet gelar pemenang melalui tim Weider setelah pertempuran yang sengit dengan tim Lexus Petronas Tom’s SC430 selama seri berlangsung tahun ini.

Honda HSV (Honda Sport Velocity) adalah mobil yang seharusnya diluncurkan untuk bertanding dengan Nissan GT-R dan Lexus LF-A. Namun dikarenakan kondisi ekonomi dunia yang sedang menurun beberapa tahun lalu dan perpindahan fokus Honda ke arah ramah lingkungan, Honda HSV menemui ajalnya bahkan sebelum diluncurkan. Meskipun begitu, prototipe yang secara notabene sudah selesai dimanfaatkan oleh Honda untuk berpartisipasi di ajang balapan paling bergengsi di Jepang yaitu Super GT. Honda sendiri memanfaatkan lubang didalam aturan Super GT karena ajang balapan bergengsi ini hanya mengijinkan partisipasi melalui produk mobil yang beredar di pasaran.

Honda HSV adalah mobil pertama Honda yang akan menggunakan mesin V10 berkapasitas 5000 cc dengan target tenaga kuda hingga 500 ps/pk dan menggunakan sistem penggerak 4 roda yang mampu memindahkan tenaga tak hanya untuk roda depan dan belakang namun juga kiri dan kanan. Rencananya, Honda akan menggunakan merek Acura untuk meluncurkan mobil ini di Amerika dan merek Honda sendiri untuk di Jepang.

Spesial untuk balapan Super GT ini, Honda menggunakan mesin V8 berkapasitas3400 cc dengan tenaga kuda 500 ps/pk. Mesin ini adalah mesin yang sama digunakan oleh Honda untuk balapan Formula Nippon.

Selamat untuk Honda dan tim Weider! Semoga dengan kemenangan ini, keputusan untuk menjual HSV dalam bentuk produk produksi dapat dilaksanakan. Hal ini sangat sesuai untuk menciptakan sebuah produk “Halo” untuk menampilkan kemampuan insinyur Honda menciptakan sebuah kendaraan 4 roda yang dapat bersaing dengan Ferrari dan Lamborghini.

Sumber: Halaman tim Weider

New Honda President: No FR Sedans! But…

Straight from Honda new President, Takanobu Ito, Honda cancels development of rear wheel drive cars.  A sad news for many enthusiasts because they balked at the fact that the previous Honda President, Takeo Fukui announced exciting projects for Honda, namely a new flagship rear wheel drive sedan, powered with a new V8 engine and the arrival of the most awaited replacement for Honda supercar, NSX. Spy shots of the new rear wheel drive mule car are abound, and the NSX replacement, sporting its V10 engine is screaming around the test track, everything is ready… Until Takanobu Ito arrives on the scene. Takanobu Ito is no stranger to Honda spirited roots, he is in fact, the guy in charge of creating NSX all aluminum body. So he knows a thing or two about what makes a great car (not an excessive engine).

The move is warranted though, not because Ito-san hates the enthusiasts or something, it’s just Honda couldn’t afford making these so called “question marks” products… At least according to BCG high growth/low demand matrix. The halo effect is there positively, but how is the demand? Let’s take a look at Honda profit ending 2008… 20 Billion Yen… WOWZA! A lot of cash no? No! Ending 2007, Honda profit is roughly 200 Billion Yen, 10 times of that last year. What Honda needs are cash cow products, products that makes profit like well, Fit/Jazz, Accord, Freed, and anything in between.

The new flagship sedan would just create costs and like any late comers, it will not sell well. Honda will need to cover for loss of the new car, something that Honda simply just couldn’t afford. What they can afford though is the creation of car variants from existing platform, that’s why the ZDX came to be, because it’s just a bigger Accord.

So what if Honda doesn’t have a 370Z, RX-8, ZR-1, SLK? What Honda needs now is to survive and that’s a priority over slow selling (albeit super sexy) cars anytime, anytime. Takanobu Ito will have a tough time and will have his photo on the target range of any misled Honda fans. But for true fans who understand the situation, he is actually a savior who dares to take the seat and all the responsibility (and one of the responsibilities is to take shit from enthusiasts).

But there’s still good news though; the NSX replacement is shelved, but that’s just the V10 version. There is news about Honda going to create another supercar… A hybrid supercar. Yep, Honda is rumored to scrap the V10 engine for a V6 hybrid system, just like Toyota planned hybrid Supra revival. But unlike Toyota’s hybrid 400 horsepower engine, Honda own super hybrid will generate up to 450 horsepower. This new bigger hybrid system will also found its way onto family friendly cars, probably destined to found its way under Acura hoods.

My take on the cancellation of anything rear wheel coming out from Honda is not the end all devastating news. So what if Honda or Acura is not becoming like Mercedes, BMW or even Toyota/Lexus? Honda well, they are going after Audi and Volvo… At least they both have the same front wheel vanilla cars and AWD spicier version. However both Audi and Volvo are not so stingy with their engine offering, at least there’s turbo and big V8s on Volvo side, and Audi have like what… V8, V10, W12… Acura could have gone the way of the Audis and I would care less just add more engines… A-VTEC would be nice Ito-san!


Rumored Honda super hybrid is coming

Takanobu Ito: FR Sedans are lame

Ito as new Honda President: Red marks all over

Honda Freed Hands on Impression

Here it is folks, pictures and witty comments of 2009 Indonesian Honda Freed. The model you’ll be seeing is the baseline version with the uprated rims from the original Japanese Honda Freed and some exclusions to fit with the intended target market price bracket.

Let’s start to take a look from the exterior sides first.

Short nose, highly advanced engineering

Taking the same platform of the Fit/Jazz, the Freed inherit the same “near-zero” hood, because that’s how awesome Honda engineers are, able to create such a compact engine to make a compact and easy to maneuverable car. But one thing you will notice from the outside is…

Smoked headlight for added oomph

Smoked headlight, standard for all model. Nice addition and makes this white over black headlight really nice. Although not as nice as the…

Uprated tires and rims nudge the ground clearance higher

Uprated rim and tires from the original JDM model. Freed JDM models employs 14” rims as standard and 160 mm of ground clearance. Clearly the use of 15” rims by Freed competitors and the necessity to heighten Freed’s original ground clearance for shoddy Indonesian cities roads warrant this upgrade. Freed uses 185/65 tires on 15” rims, which boost Freed’s ground clearance to a healthy 165 mm. Not tall enough, but enough as not to destroy the driving dynamics. Which you want because…

L15 engine although slightly detune

The Freed has the same engine as the Fit/Jazz and City. Notice the same air duct towards the intake of the car positioned near the firewall of the engine bay? That means fresh relatively cool air is fed towards the intake for maximum efficiency at high speed. Even though the power is down from 120ps that of Fit/Jazz and City to 118ps to the Freed, it’s still the most powerful engine for its given capacity (1.5L). Which you want to utilize because…

Side visibility is superb

The driving position is very nice. Although this car doesn’t feature telescopic steering only tilt and there is no height adjustment on the driver seat, good seating position is achievable. Which gives… Nice visibility from driving position to all sides. The A pillar is slanty enough so you can see tall objects on the side and the instrument cluster is nicely positioned just slightly below the front glass, perfect for glancing while driving.

Cheap AC controls, but awesome dash design

Phew… It’s quite hard to write something that continuous, so let’s continue with the usual flow… Interior size wise, the car is adequate for the majority of Asians, although some tall guy including me will need to adjust the seat quite extremely to find the perfect seating position (just slide the seats all the way back). Seating position for second and third row is limited for my “178 cm long in the legs” posture, as my knee will always scrub against something. Not so much for the first row because there are more leg room upfront.

Upholstery is not what I expected, but still nice

I found that the seating position is a bit low, thus I couldn’t find comfortable seating position on second and third row. Bearable on short trips, but not so much for longer ones. Tall people, definitely sits at the first row only.

One thing that I found very satisfying sitting inside the Freed on the second and third row seat is the tall roofline. The tall roofline gives a lot positive feeling psychologically, being that It’s like you’re sitting in a more spacious room. The same thing applies I guess to your house design, low roofline and you will feel that you’re living in a smaller place than if the roofline is higher… It’s psychobable, because you live horizontally not vertically, but it’s real.

Flat floor + sexy legs

There is one minus point for the second row interior, in that, although the captain seat has arm rest, it’s only on the inner side of the interior, and not the outer. In fact, the outer position where the doors are, there are no arm rest and even a crease to put your arm. You can only rest your arm on the inner side of the seat.

Entry point is very accessible

Entering and exiting the car for the second row is very nice for average and tall people. Thanks to the side handles, small size persons (a kid) can just grab on the handle and climb up the footstep, thank goodness the car ground clearance is not too high as to hamper entering and exiting the car. While trying to enter and exit the car, now I realize, having a tall ground clearance have its adverse side effect; because the taller the ground clearance, the taller the entry/exit point is. Imagine your Grandmother have to literally “climb” her way up to your Land Cruiser… Yeah, buy that LC Grandma haters…

Access to the third row seat is through the alley of the second row seat. Which is kind of tight because of the protruding armrest. But given that this is me “not your typical Asian” we are talking, medium size people will be able to pass through the alley with ease.

The third seat as pictured before, folds upward and splits 50/50. I can easily get out from the third row seat when one was folded upward through the rear hatch… Although I didn’t know why you would do that…  The minus point for this folding upward seat is that it won’t allow wide tall objects to be put on the floor, because the seat above it will obstruct the object. Tall slim objects are perfect though.

Final words

The Freed is definitely geared towards average Asians upstart family who wants comfort and entry level luxury. The size is obviously perfect for average size Asians, thanks to its box shaped overall body structure. Legrooms might be tight, but shoulder and head room is ginormous. The second row and third row features reclining seats, because there are lots of space available, and it even still has some space left behind the third row seat.

Honda really did it this time. The car price is dead on, fits perfectly between the Jazz and the City and really seals the image that Honda is premium brand. The local advertisement of Indonesian Honda Freed might be too much on the framing of the target market and less about the car, but it’s okay, Honda Indonesia really nails the premium aspect of the car.

Given the price, the Freed is expensive to say the least. But consider this: Freed emulates to a perfect degree of expensive people movers such as Alphard, Elysion and Elgrand. Because the car chassis and platform (FF) mimics perfectly of its more expensive brethren. Nissan Grand Livina is the closest direct competitor to Freed platform wise, but it sits lower and the roofline is lower. Sure the Nissan Grand Livina has the advantage in driving dynamics, being lower and all, but it won’t easily beat Freed’s spacious interior vertically.

I see that the demographic for Freed is very wide ranging. From 30 to 45, and economic strata of A & B+. From upstart family to just those who started a new life together. Perfect? Not really. Hit the target? 102%

Thanks to Pak. Harris at Autoland Kelapa Gading for putting up with me and the family long after the dealership closing time, and no thanks to Nokia E75 shitty low light pictures.

Honda CEO 2008 Year End Speech… The Interesting Stuff

Okay, 2008 is closing, and even though Honda posts record breaking profit by the middle of 2008, September came and hell along with the winter autumn breeze. Why hell? Hell… Everything plummet since September, everything that went up suddenly dropping like it was, I dunno, want to crack some joke but I think it’s futile anyway. Anyway…

When somebody wrote “The situation is worsening every day in all regions.” in their publicized company report… Then, probably it is. For 2009, Honda forecasts a drop in automobile and power equipment demands, but cited an increase in motorcycle demand. Well, it is given, when you can’t afford a car, you will buy a motorcycle (if you live in SE Asia).

“Unit sales forecasts are: motorcycles; 10.3 million units (+10.5%), automobiles; 3.65 million units (-7%), power products; 5.185 million units (-14.4%).”

The forecasts seems… Rather safe and heart lightening, however, when we look at the direction Honda is taking, I’m not so sure anymore. “

“• Toward this end, Honda will closely monitor the marketplace and then carefully determine what actions need to be taken. Once decisions are made, Honda will take quick action as the company realizes the situation is very urgent and a slight delay in making management decisions could be critical.

• Based on this understanding of the situation, bonuses for directors, corporate auditors and operating officers will be reassessed based on the business results of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2009. In addition, monthly remuneration of directors, corporate auditors and operating officers will be cut by 10% for all directors starting January 2009.” Things are tough when the higher ups bonuses are reassessed based on the business results.”

Tough, because if the situation doesn’t improve, it’s up to the higher ups effort to maintain their bonuses, and in this uncertain economy condition… Well it’s safe to assume that Honda just want to cut its spending.

Okay, so enough of the preliminary, let’s just cut into the meaty part. So…

The darker side…

  • Honda is canceling the NSX project, along with it, the V10 and V8 engine destined to go to Acura.
  • As such, Acura launch in Japan is postponed.
  • So does medium to large diesel engines.
  • Not to mention quitting F1 and AMA.

The lighter side…

  • Honda will concentrate on small sized cars as forecasted will be the top selling model of 2009. Meaning no more waiting for the Fit on the dealers!
  • Hybrids are go, CR-Z is confirmed for 2010, and Insight V2 will be available early next year.
  • Focusing on small cars, Honda will introduce small size diesels and an unnamed small car positioned below the Fit/Jazz.
  • Honda will make available full electric scooter in 2 years time.

The Acura homeward bound cancellation is quite a shocker… But considering that it will take much more effort of time and money to introduce and maintain two separate brand, Honda best bet is just to keep Acura where it already established its business. When things are better, you can be sure Honda is going to take Acura home!

The NSX cancellation means a lot for everybody, Honda own NSX that races in SuperGT needs replacement badly… It’s the only naturally aspirated small block V6 on the grid. Fighting with the likes of large bore V8s of Toyota and super turbos of Nissan makes an easy opponent of Honda… Although the NSX is giving Toyota and Nissan a run for their money. NSX might not dominates anymore, but the extra decade old NSX still slots in on the top 5 at SuperGT… And sometimes manage a podium finish, not bad at all.

The V8 that is planned to go to Acura is another question mark. I would say Honda already have a blueprint for the engine, but just doesn’t want to produce it in quantity. Remembering the fact that new technology = retooling cost, and cost is the keyword that everybody is trying to avoid next year. Oh well, in the coming tough times, it’s good enough that people still buys a car.

One of the biggest interesting aspect of the year end report speech is the introduction of an unnamed small car that will be positioned below the Fit/Jazz. Is it the Life? Or better yet, Zest Spark? If it is, why wait 3 years? 3 years is quite a long time, the global economy slowdown might as well be relieved by then… Well, or perhaps Honda is waiting for its Chinese-partnership to bear fruits? The Li-Nian concept car is mighty fine… I wouldn’t mind driving a Chinese made Honda.

The all new Honda Zest Spark… Not released yet

All in all, Honda is bracing for a tougher times ahead, and there nothing to better close this post than taking it directly from the big man himself…

“Honda is a company driven to achieve continuous growth by the dreams and passions of each Honda associate. Especially when the company faces difficult times, each associate will maintain a high level of initiative and continue challenging.”

We will always challenge the future Fukui-san, we will always.


Official Honda CEO year end speech

NSX Replacement: 10000 RPM rev limit?

The automotive scene is revving up with a new super blurry and not so clear interior picture of Honda’s latest supercar, and like the old saying, a picture worth a thousand words… Well, except for porn, it’s worth more. As usual, bigger pictures can be found on the original thread here.

Blurry as hell, but you can see the numbers clearly

Well, as you can see, even if it’s blurry, the tachometer indicates a clear 10000 RPM rev limit, with a redline around 8200-8400 RPM (conservatively). Here, I blew up the picture and added some graphical outline.

A mediocre attempt to clear things up

The redline area I drew is just a rough estimate, taking a clue from Ferrari 430 tachometer below. Like the Ferrari, this new Honda super car have 10000 RPM rev limit. However, there’s that extra white line extending after 10000 RPM on the new Honda… What is that?

Judging from my rough estimate, such high engine rotation can only mean the car easily achieve 550ps Honda claim from the new car. So what about that extra white line after the redline? Well, if I may guestimate… Badly, and don’t take my word for this… Honda will incorporate some “over revv” function like in Formula 1 cars. Meaning that in daily drive, the car will use lower horsepower and if needed, the car can go full blast to its 550ps, just like the BMW M5.  The BMW M5 initially has 507 Bhp engine, however when the car is started, it only produces 400 Bhp unless the “power mode” is activated. The purpose probably to make the car more economical when needed, after all, this is Honda we are talking about, Mr. Efficient.

Ferrari: Race single mindedness to the extreme

Well, it actually is… A VERY BAD GUESS from my side. The white strip thingie is actually a light reflection on the tachometer display ring!!!! DAMN! That’s humiliating… A much higher resolution picture is coming courtesy of Temple of VTEC. You guys can check it here or just go to the source link I posted below.

Oh, one more thing. I’m actually quite surprised that the car has a complete interior. For a release date of 2010-2011, this car looks very finished already. You can see a lot of buttons on the stylish steering wheel. Not just buttons per se, but more like MID control, audio control, cruise control and the likes. This car can be released next year for all I know. But the million dollar question remains… Will this be a Honda or an Acura?


10000 RPM tach of NSX replacement

Acura TL 09′ Official Teaser Picture

Here it is, the all new 2009 (2008 model year) Acura TL in all of its Darth Vader ride of choice glory.

Acura TL 09'

2009 TL, Darth Vader’s personal car

For those in the not know… If there’s such a term… Acura is the luxury division of Honda, and the TL is one of its most successful model, sales wise. This car actually was designed and made exclusively for Acura, so you won’t find a Honda with the same styling as the TL. It’s officially stated, that the new TL will come under two flavors, vanilla and bush berry suprise, that meaning, a front wheel drive version and a “hotter” all wheel drive version. Acura official press release just mention about that that and the fact that the hotter model will feature “Acura’s most powerful engine in history of Acura”. Well, we know that they have the 3.7L VTEC producing 300bhp in the MDX and the RL (Honda Legend), so in a sense of the statement, the new TL will have… I don’t know… More? Or the same?

The design of the car really brings some sort of shock and awe to the automotive scene. Acura is regarded as one of the most conservative brand, styling wise in the industry… Well, with it being Honda lackey and all. The new TL design is leap and bound of Acura basically bland designs. Well, the RDX and MDX leads the way and stuff, but the TL raise it up a notch. Gone are the classic Accord lines, and in are the new lines that resembles Lexus ES and Infiniti M series. Some again… Ridicule the design, stating that the Japanese only have one designer for the three marque. However, it is a very welcome change, I see the new TL design is a breath of fresh air, and I’m anxious of how it fares against its competitors.

The “shield” grill is okay, it’s growing up on me. It’s a distinct shape, and one that separates the Acura from the Honda… The men and the boy, the well established and the aspiring enterpreneur, the bold and the beautiful, the mickey and the mouse… the… I’m running out of word here, so before it gets more corny, I will just quit.

The current and soon obsolete Acura TL Type-S

Anyway, the 2009 TL will be unveiled soon, this fall… And you know there will be a paper review up in the corner somewhere…


Acura Media News room.