Honda and its upscale Acura division will make at least two significant bits of news during the North American International Auto Show next month.
On the Honda side, the maker will introduce its completely redesigned Fit subcompact, while Acura will pull the wraps off an all-new sedan, the TLX. There may be a few surprises in store, as well, a senior Honda official all but confirming that the maker is getting ready to announce plans to bring the Civic Type R to the U.S. market.
The new 2015 Honda Fit will be larger yet lighter, more powerful, more fuel-efficient – and boast a more flexible interior than the outgoing hatchback, according to Mike Accavitti, the maker’s senior vice president for U.S. automotive operations. It will, he explained during a Detroit background session, be “perfect for the next generation of buyers who don’t want to sacrifice space, performance or features.”
While full details will have to wait for the unveiling of the new model at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, it’s expected to be powered by a 1.5-liter inline-four engine that will deliver a combined 36 miles per gallon. The U.S. version will not, however, offer the stop/start technology available in Europe and some other global markets. Accavitti said Honda is expecting the 2015 Fit to provide best-in-segment performance.
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Significantly, Honda will shift production of the U.S. Fit from Japan to an all-new Mexican assembly plant. That will be critical for the maker’s goal of boosting sales since it has struggled to meet potential demand in the States. With the addition of the new factory in Celaya, Honda’s North American assembly line network will be producing about 90% of the vehicles the maker sells in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The new model will feature the latest version of the Honda ACE body structure. Despite being lighter than the outgoing platform, the maker anticipates it will meet the latest crash standards, including the challenging small offset test used by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Honda and Acura together claim more models rated Top Safety Pick-Plus than any other manufacturer.
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During this week’s background session, Honda officials had little more to add about the 2015 Acura TLX, though Accavitti made it clear the new model should become a “very significant value to the Acura brand at a number of different levels.”
Indeed, Acura has been struggling for identity for a number of years, in part due to some weak products, but also to confusion over its odd naming structure. Consider that the brand’s base sedan is the ILX while the top-line 4-door is the recently launched RLX. The TLX will slot in-between, replacing the old TSX which vanishes at the end of the 2014 model-year.
As one might expect, the width and length of the new sedan will be somewhere between the entry-level ILX and flagship RLX, though specific measurements aren’t yet available, nor was there any mention of powertrain details. The “X” in the name might suggest that the new TLX will have an all-wheel-drive option.
As for design, the styling of the TLX is meant to “sharpen” Acura’s recent styling trends. With no images to work from we can only guess as to the meaning of that hint.
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Meanwhile, might we also hear official news about the Civic Type R, the most powerful version of the familiar compact model ever offered? Accavitti pointedly said he could not confirm or deny recent reports – while quickly adding, that “I ask you to keep your expectations high. Very high.”
We’ll look for more details before the official auto show unveiling next month. But we can point out that the European version of the Type R backs up its more aggressive styling with Honda’s new Earth Dreams 2.0-liter turbo engine which churns out more than 276 horsepower. It clearly sounds like it will be worth the wait.
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