The 2018 auto show circuit kicked off with the North American International Auto Show. From January 13th through to the 28th, the world’s top auto manufacturers gathered at the Cobo Center in Detroit, MI to showcase the new model year cars and trucks, upcoming future production models, and bespoke one-off concept designs that vary from extravagant to just plain weird. It was a venerable ‘Who’s Who’ of journalists, press and media, industry insiders, product reps, brand ambassadors, company spokespeople, and corporate executives before doors were opened to the public on Saturday the 20th. And of course, let’s not forget the all-star cast of the event: the vehicles, themselves.
Well, boys and girls, it’s finally here. The new Honda Civic Type R, which was first revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, has finally hit dealer showrooms and is on sale now in the U.S. of A. 2017 marks the 5th generation of the Type R variant of the Honda Civic and the 10th generation overall for the Civic, which has been in continuous production since 1972.
A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON…
The original Honda Civic made its debut on July 11th, 1972 (as a 1973 model), replacing the N600 as the subcompact economy entry in Honda’s vehicle lineup. It was an immediate hit right out of the box in its native Japan, overtaking its domestic rivals from Nissan and Toyota. The Civic also achieved international success in both England and the United States as it specifically catered to motorists who were affected by the 1973 Oil Crisis and had grown jaded of the increasing banality of traditional, full-sized land barges. The Civic’s mass appeal as an inexpensive, fuel-friendly, and reliable (albeit, boring and uninspired) commuter car, combined with Honda’s growing reputation for hardiness, legions of Civic aficionados and Honda brand loyalists were formed as a result. In 1997, Honda’s famed Type R performance treatment was finally applied to the Civic, granting the little economy car to oin the legendary NSX supercar, DC2 and DC5 Integra, and CH/CL Accord in the Honda Type R stable of high-performance vehicles. The Honda Civic Type R remained unavailable in the North American market since its initial release but now, just in time for the first Civic Type R’s 20th anniversary, the newest iteration of the Civic Type R has finally made its way to American shores to do battle against other performance-oriented “hot hatches” such as the Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS.
This is the first of many old car commercials we’ll be posting over the upcoming weeks. For whatever reason these old ads are memorizing. Maybe its a sign of the times or a look back into what life once was. Sometimes just thinking about how grainy the TV looked is interesting. Today’s old car ad is for the 1982 Nissan Sentra. This was right in the middle of the name transition from Datsun to Nissan where people would shop the Datsun dealer for the newest Nissan models.
The Sentra was released in 1982 as a replacement for the Datsun 210 model. The US base price for a base model 1982 Sentra was just $4949 with an EPA mileage rating of 43 mpg! In 1982 this little econo-box got 43 mpg and and estimated 58 mpg on the highway. What gives Nissan? Where are these fuel mileage numbers now? The assumption can be made that increased safety and emissions regulations have made it more difficult to hit these numbers but still. They’ve had 34+ years to figure it out!
While the 1982 Sentra had excellent mileage on paper I don’t think many would spend 58 miles in one of these cars today. There’s no bluetooth, wifi, navigation, bose audio, panoramic sunroof, butt heaters and all the other do-dads people expect in their cars today. Still this early 80’s Nissan Sentra represents a time in Automotive history when one of the great Japanese car brands was reborn. Almost 35 years later and Nissan remains a top brand in the US and even outliving some of the classic American brands. That in itself is something special.
Honda has revealed the 10th generation Civic Si prototype to show off the performance direction of the 2017 Si coupe and sedan. Honda has a long history with its Si name plate and hopes to come out swinging with what they claim to be the most powerful Civic Si they’ve ever produced. The Si will be at the 2016 LA Auto show in coupe, sedan and hatchback variations. Even bigger news is that Honda will finally be bringing a Civic Type R to the US. It’s been something import tuners have lusted after for years and Honda is finally making it happen. Details about the new Type R haven’t been fully released but Honda will have a prototype of it on display along side the new Civic Si.
Powering this new Civic Si will be a high-performance and high-torque 1.5 liter direct injected turbo engine mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. Additionally this Civic will offer a new active damper system, active steering, limited slip differential, and high performance tires. These are all things people have been modding onto Civics for years in the aftermarket. Limited slip differential, turbo, high torque engines, appearance kits; it’s as if Honda finally opened up a Honda Tuning magazine and saw what all the fuss has been about all these years. This car should make for a great base platform for further tuning or an excellent platform for those that wanted all these things in the past but didn’t want to modify their factory cars. Well done Honda, well done.
The Civic Si will be on dealer lots next year as Honda rolls out all models of the Civic lineup for 2017. The roll out with finish with the Type R Civic later in 2017.
Audi of America has just introduced 2 new models with the 2018 A5 and S5 Sportback models. This is a revitalized hatchback sedan trend started by cars like the Honda Crosstour and BMW X6. Audi enters this game with two new offerings based on its most popular sedan platform. In Audi fashion, both models are essential the same car with the S model offering a beefier engine and a sportier driving dynamic. The new A5 and S5 models will come standard with Quattro all-wheel drive with front a front to rear ratio of 40:60.
The A5 sport back will be powered by a 2.0L Turbo engine mated to a 7 speed dual clutch automatic to create 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Audi estimates this power plant to push the A5 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. The S5 will come with a turbo 3.0L V6 the puts out 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Audi estimates a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds for the S5 thanks to a new 8 speed automatic. One thing to note is that the S5 will only come with an automatic while the A5 will still offer a manual transmission option.
Audi is hoping to appeal to the luxury sedan buyer that wants a little more utility. While this segment of car is still very unique and sometimes even a little odd; Audis take on a hatch back sedan looks very attractive. This might just be the best looking 4 door sedan hatchback out there. Buyers can expect to see the A5 and S5 hit dealer lots in spring of 2017 as 2018 models.
The internet is buzzing today with the news of a new Kia Soul model. Ok maybe not buzzing. You might be saying “It’s just a Kia Soul” which is completely reasonable however anytime you add a turbo to something people start to pay attention. The 2017 Kia Soul Exclaim is boasting 201 horsepower from a 1.6L 4 cylinder engine. What’s more is that Kia is claiming slightly better fuel efficiency than its base model engines. Mated to a 7 speed dual clutch transmission the Soul is shaping up to be a very fun and nimble little daily driver.
It will be interesting to see if Kia has made improvements to their 7 speed dual clutch after owner complaints about the similar unit in the Hyundai Tucson. Tucson owners have complained about dead spots in the cars acceleration that have come close to being dangerous. Many state that poor drivability ruins and otherwise excellent vehicle. Hopefully Hyundai and Kia can get that worked out before the new Soul Exclaim gets released.
Aside from performance updates the Exclaim model comes decked out with 18 inch wheels, unique badges, dual chrome exhaust tips, body trim enhancements and some mild interior tweaks. No specific release dates have been announced, but expect it to hit dealers soon as a 2017 model.
A question that some of us ask ourselves. Or have even been asked by friends or customers. I have a car with a CVT transmission and I have always wondered how a CVT actually worked. I knew it was belt driven but I didn’t know how the belt was driven and how one belt could do the work making it go through “gears”. Now that CVT transmissions are more main stream that they once were most of us have ridden in a car with a CVT. The number one thing we notice first is that there is not Shift/Step feeling as it switches gears. CVT Transmissions are made to give the engine efficiency under acceleration and going up hills. They also give you improved gas mileage and over the years the benefits are starting too finally out way the cons of owning one. CVT transmissions were not always the most reliable when they first started being introduced to cars but we will get into that later.
CVT Transmissions have 3 main components. There is a Drive pulley, Driven pulley, and a belt. The belts are known to be either high strength rubber or metal. The two pulleys also have clutches and sheathes on them that will move one side of the pulley to make it wider or narrower depdnding on the ratio the cars transmission computer decides it needs to be in. By doing this you have an almost infinite number of ratios. When this happens the other pulley will do the opposite to change the ratio of how much output needs to make it to the wheels. Because of this you do not get any kind “shift” or “Stepping feelings”. The drive pulley is connected to the cars crankshaft. The driven pulley is called so because the drive pulley is turning it. That is known as the output pulley and the cars driveshaft is connected to that.
As you can see in the picture it is a pretty simple concept considering that of a normal automatic transmission that is a nightmare to even look at the inside of. There are multiple types of CVT transmissions but the main one we are going over today is the belt driven type.
The advantages of owning a CVT transmission are tremendous! I have to say I love my car and the loss of “Shift shock” and I always have power whenever I need it. No need to wait for the transmission to shift and get that power. You will also have improved fuel efficiency, there is always better control over emissions and the ride is exceptionally smooth. Some cons of owning one can be the expense of have to replace it and earlier CVT transmissions were not the most reliable. Although they are getting much better throughout the years some people have sworn off of them because of past reliability issues. Also the weak point of these transmissions is the belt. The quality of the belts has been questionable throughout the years. Some last forever and some break within 70K miles, I wouldn’t worry about it though because most manufacturers give a decent warranty on power train.
Finally I have a bonus question for you. What was the first u.s. production car to have a CVT transmission?
Mini is recalling about 35,000 cars in the U.S. and Canada do to safety regulations not met for side impacts for rear passengers. The recall includes Cooper, Cooper S Hardtop two-door cars from 2014 and 2015. It also includes the 2015 John Cooper works Hardtop Two-door. Basically rear passengers are at a higher risk of injury from side impacts, when you bring your car in to the dealer they will install more energy absorption material between the rear interior side panels and body starting September 12th.
The documents were filed with the U.S. safety regulations that is knows of no accidents or injuries from this problem. The recall will include 30,456 U.S. cars and 4,130 Canadian cars.
This is not one of the biggest recalls in car maker history but this could potentially be dangerous. If you own one of these cars please contact your local dealer to get your car scheduled for repair. The last thing we want to see is anyone get hurt do to lack in safety.