Honda’s Accord is an excellent all-around midsize sedan. It’s also oh-so-mainstream, and even though the Accord is actually quite sweet to drive, the sportiest version you can buy (it’s named, um, the “Sport”) isn’t exactly a BMW-chaser. Instead, the Accord Sport wears visual dress-up bits and unlocks the lineup’s only available manual transmission option. So, what would a harder-core Accord look like? We imagine a little something like this, a 350-hp-plus Honda Accord Type R. Interested?
We have no idea whether or not Honda is working on such an Accord Type R, and a spokesman for the company dodged comment. In all likelihood, it isn’t—but allow us to make the case for why Honda should be working on one. Honda’s fan club is a fervent bunch, and, like all of us, they eventually age. That means their automotive needs will grow beyond Honda’s dwindling supply of fig leaves to driving enthusiasts, which now includes only the compact Civic lineup’s Si and Type R models. No one wants to grow up and leave fun behind, however, so an Accord Type R would give Honda die-hards a performance model to step up to when the time comes to set down their wildly winged, flagrant-looking Civic Type Rs and slammed S2000 roadsters.
Besides, an Accord Type R would be an incredibly straightforward thing for Honda to produce. The company already has most of the components needed to transform the Accord accordingly, says Doug Macmillan, one of the founders of Honda tuner Hondata. (The outfit offers a series of affordable engine computer tweaks for the Civic and Accord, and thus is well versed in what either Honda is capable of, power-wise.) Doug immediately nixed our assumption that a Honda Accord Type R would simply borrow the current Civic Type R’s mighty 306-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
Even though that engine should and does bolt right in, given how it’s loosely related to the Accord’s optional 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, Doug says its sensor package and computer are German. (Thank the Euro market for driving the hi-po Civic’s development. ) The stock, American-built Accord has a Japanese wiring harness. Therefore, surprise, the German-speaking Type R engine doesn’t play nicely together with the Accord’s Japanese computer, we’re told, and any efforts to make them would be colossally time-consuming and money-intensive. As Doug told us, it’s “far, far easier to bolt on the Civic Type R turbo and other go-fast bits and pieces and go from there.”
Skipping the Civic Type R engine, then, seems like the path Honda would take in creating the Accord Type R, if it were to undertake such a project. Per Hondata, running a computer tune (and premium fuel—the stock Accord recommends regular as the minimum grade) and bolting on the Civic Type R’s turbocharger in place of the stock unit nets an extra 60 horsepower from the Accord’s 2.0T engine. That brings output up to around 312 horsepower; go nuts with intake and exhaust bolt-ons, and there’s even more power to be found. Doug says he’s seen one earnestly modified Accord 2.0T engine with flex-fuel capability (it can run higher ethanol-gasoline blends) put down over 400 ponies. Dial the crazy down to dealer-salable (and warranty-able) levels, and you’d be looking at around 350 horsepower or so for a would-be Honda Accord Type R using a lightly upgraded, Accord-spec 2.0-liter engine.
Of course, to fully earn Honda’s Type R badge, the Accord would need some extra visual sizzle (as you can see in our exclusive renderings here) plus suspension, tire, and brake upgrades. We’d implore Honda to keep the Accord Sport’s optional six-speed manual transmission, too, although Doug from Hondata notes that their modified Accords are quicker when equipped with the available 10-speed automatic. Figure on a price of around $40,000 for this potential Honda-badged sport sedan, provided Honda is listening and gets to work creating it. Which, by the way, get to it, Honda.
SpaceX has transported (half of) its Starship Mk1 prototype to its South Texas launch pad for the first time ever, signifying that the company is about to enter a major new stage of testing.
The move, however, raises the question: why is SpaceX transporting only half of Starship Mk1 to the launch pad?
Following SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s September 28th presentation on Starship, the spacecraft prototype was partially disassembled, having essentially been mocked up to stand as a backdrop at the event. The impact was fairly minor, taking up no more than a few days of work, but Starship Mk1 remains in two large, separate pieces – a curved nose section and the ship’s cylindrical propellant tank and propulsion section.
A little over a month after Musk’s presentation, SpaceX technicians freed Starship Mk1’s lower tank section from a steel mount and temporarily installed the giant half-spacecraft on framework mounted to a Roll Lift transporter. SpaceX has consistently relied on Roll Lifts for the task of transporting Starship’s massive segments both around and between its Boca Chica, Texas build and launch facilities. This time around, only Starship Mk1’s lower half was loaded onto the transporter before being staged overnight near the main gate of SpaceX’s build site.
Although work continued throughout the night, around dawn on October 30th, transport activity restarted in earnest, with technicians preparing to move Starship. A road closure filed with Cameron County suggested that something would occur on the 30th, with followers speculating that Starship Mk1 would be transported to SpaceX’s South Texas launch pad. As it turned out, that speculation was correct, and (half of) Starship Mk1 was indeed moved to the launch pad and installed atop a new launch mount that was built from scratch in just a few months.
(Half a) Starship on the pad
While it’s undeniably thrilling to see Starship Mk1 head to SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch pad for the first time ever, it remains to be seen why exactly only half of the rocket was transported – no mean feat. Although a great deal of progress has been made over the last month outfitting Starship Mk1 with all the wiring, electronics, plumbing, and other subsystems the prototype will need to function, it’s plainly visible that a significant amount of work remains before Starship will be ready for integrated testing.
Most notably, as pictured above, the launch mount frame is certainly more or less complete, but most of the complex plumbing, wiring, and power equipment it will need to serve its function is not obviously present. There is admittedly a possibility that SpaceX will reuse the ‘quick disconnect’ umbilical ports used by Starhopper on Starship Mk1, but that remains to be seen.
Additionally, Starship Mk1 also has some level of work left before it will be ready for its first propellant loading test, let alone flight. Aside from a large amount of wiring and avionics that still needs to be partially run, harnessed, and connected, Starship’s main liquid oxygen and methane feedlines – needed to fuel the rocket – are largely complete but still unfinished.
There are at least a few obvious possible explanations for SpaceX moving the Starship Mk1 tank section to the launch pad in its partially-finished state. The easiest explanation is that SpaceX wants to perform leak and pressure tests of Starship’s tanks as early as possible, even if that involves testing the rocket without its nose (the host of Mk1’s batteries, power controllers, COPVs, pressurization tanks, and more). It’s not clear that Starship Mk1 is – at present – capable of performing a wet dress rehearsal (WDR), a common aerospace test where a rocket is fully fueled and counts down to launch without actually igniting.
Instead, SpaceX could potentially perform a pressure (or at least leak) test with a neutral gas (or perhaps liquid nitrogen) just to verify that Starship Mk1 is structurally sound before kicking off cryogenic propellant loading. Additionally, it’s possible that SpaceX could get around Mk1’s incomplete propellant feed lines by attaching pad umbilicals directly to the ends of the incomplete feed lines.
At the same time, it’s possible that SpaceX has decided to finish assembling Starship at the launch pad itself, hinted at when a local photographer captured a number of Mk1’s control surfaces and aero covers being moved around shortly after Starship was moved to the pad. Time will tell. For the time being, SpaceX has no more road closures scheduled (meaning no nose section transport) until November 7th and 8th, followed by another on the 12th.
Fiat Chrysler is to merge with Vauxhall’s owner PSA to create the world’s fourth largest car company.
The two sides say they have yet to finalise all the details, but the 50-50 merger is expected to provide significant cost savings.
That has raised concerns at Vauxhall, which employs 3,000 people in the UK, as it could be vulnerable to any restructuring.
Unions called for talks with France’s PSA, which owns Peugeot and Citroen.
Fiat Chrysler, the Italian-US business behind Jeep, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati, has been looking for a big tie-up for years, believing that consolidation in the global industry is needed to cuts costs and overcapacity, and fund investment in electric vehicles.
It has tried previously to form alliances with General Motor and Renault.
A combined Fiat Chrysler-PSA will have a market value of about $50bn (£39.9bn) with annual sales of 8.7 million vehicles.
“Merger talks combined with Brexit uncertainty is deeply unsettling for Vauxhall’s UK workforce which is one of the most efficient in Europe,” said Unite national officer Des Quinn.
“The fact remains, merger or not, if PSA wants to use a great British brand like Vauxhall to sell cars and vans in the UK, then it has to make them here in the UK.”
Prof David Bailey, from the Birmingham Business School, told the BBC he was concerned about the prospects for Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory.
Major cost cutting “isn’t going to be achievable without plant closures and significant job cuts”.
Although Ellesmere Port is considered an efficient car plant, he believes the Italian government will be keen to keep Fiat’s factories, and the French government is part-owner of PSA and so has an interest in protecting its own factories.
He said: “I have a real fear that if this merger goes ahead the likes of Ellesmere Port, which is a very efficient plant, could be sacrificed to get the sort of savings the company is looking for, especially in all the uncertainty over Brexit.”
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire suggested his government would protect French interests. He welcomed the deal, saying it would give the two groups the critical mass needed to invest in cleaner technologies.
And he added: “The government will be particularly vigilant over preserving (the group’s) industrial footprint in France.”
The combined group, which will have its headquarters in the Netherlands, will have an 11-person board. This will include six members from Peugeot, including chief executive Carlos Tavares, and five from FCA, including chairman John Elkann.
Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group said on Thursday they would join forces through a 50-50 share swap to create the world’s fourth-largest automaker.
The boards of the two groups have mandated their respective teams to finalize discussions and reach a binding memorandum of understanding in the coming weeks, the two automakers said in a joint statement.
Fiat Chrysler will pay its shareholders a 5.5 billion euro ($6.1 billion) special dividend and hand them its shares in its robot-making unit Comau, they said.
Chairman John Elkann will chair the combined group, which will be based in the Netherlands, they said, while PSA’s Carlos Tavares will be the new CEO.
What’s the most powerful street-legal Ford ever? You might be tempted to say the GT, but you’d be wrong, because that title goes to the new Mustang Shelby GT500.
This muscle car has the right curves in the right places and massive levels of power: 760 hp (771 PS / 567 kW) and 625 lb-ft (847 Nm) of torque. The 5.2-liter, supercharged V8 engine rockets it to 60 mph (96 km/h) in the mid-3-sec, with the 1/4-mile taking under 11 seconds.
Directing torque to the rear wheels is a smooth-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Built by Tremec, it takes care of the gear shifts in just 80 milliseconds – quicker than a blink of an eye. The gearbox manages to find itself in the right gear at the right time on the track, and won’t jerk you around out on public roads. It works great, but the only major concern in this department is that the car cannot be had with a good ol’ stick shift.
Select the Normal driving mode and the Mustang Shelby GT500 becomes reasonably calm, except for that noisy exhaust. However, getting rid of the pops and crackles is easy if you choose so, as all you have to do is switch it into Quiet mode.
Okay, okay, so it’s neck-snapping fast, calm when needed and has good stopping power provided by the Brembo brakes, but what about overall handling? Well, while you might be tempted to question the chassis’ ability to control all that power, as long as you don’t abuse the throttle too much and do not disengage the traction control, you’ll be fine. In Normal mode, the steering feels a bit heavy, so for the occasional track driving, you may want to switch it to Sport to get the most out of the car.
How do we know that? Ford hosted the media drive, so the first video reviews are in, and they include road- and track-testing, as well drag-racing. You can scroll down to the videos in a bit, but until then, let’s talk about the biggest drawback: the price.
At $70,300 before the $2,600 gas guzzler tax and $1,095 destination charge, this is one expensive toy. Then come the numerous options that will bump it even more, with the most costly one being the Carbon Fiber Track Package – $18,500. The Tech Package is another $3,000 and the Handling Pack will cost you $1,500. Choose them all and you will have to pay more than $100,000.