There’s no two ways about it: The small, affordable, fun-to-drive cars that defined Honda and Acura in the early 1990s created a generation of enthusiasts. And in recent years, both companies have embraced that legacy, and released some of the most exciting cars we’ve ever seen from either marque.
So to highlight the recent pivot toward performance, both booths for SEMA 2018 were heavy with hot hardware. Most striking — at least in our humble opinion — was the wicked ARX-05 Acura prototype racing car. It’s spent the last season helping secure podium finishes for legendary driver Juan Pablo Montoya in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and really had presence. Saying that a car looks fast even when it’s standing still might be an overused phrase, but we think it’s completely appropriate here — just look at this baby!
We were also pretty taken with the Civic Type R which saw duty in the new Touring Car R class of the Pirelli World Challenge. It’s rolling proof that a well-designed and set up front-wheel drive car can prove a potent racing machine, even at the highest levels of competition. Given it features a six-speed sequential gearbox, a stripped interior, and a roll cage, it’s obviously not exactly like the Civic Type R you can buy at local AutoNation Honda dealer. But it does show how Honda is constantly looking toward the world of racing to test and refine its road-going offerings. Rest assured, all the data the teams collect on the track will eventually find its way to the other cars in Honda’s lineup, and result in better cornering, higher fuel efficiency, improved safety, or all of the above.
Against all the race-ready hardware, the Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept stuck out like a sore thumb, in the best possible way. It’s fun example of what happens when you give designers a mandate to create a task-specific, no compromise machine. Here, they took cues from the Ridgeline and the company’s Pioneer 1000 UTV to produce a vehicle that’ll tackle any trail. While parts bin is often used as a derogatory term in the the industry, this concept proves that when you give talented people access to every piece in the toolbox, you can wind up with something seriously special. Now we just need to see footage of this machine in the dirt, so hopefully Honda hooks it up!
Check out more pictures from the Honda and Acura displays at SEMA 2018, and if you’re looking to add a little race-proven performance to your own garage, head to your local AutoNation dealer and check out everything they have to offer.