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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My response to Larchmont's thread about the AAA ratings started me thinking....and that's never a safe thing. :D

Automotive journalists love to say that "no car is perfect" when they are pointing out some minor problem they perceive when reviewing a car, and to a certain extent, that's true. True perfection may be unattainable, but why do most cars have at least one glaring problem? Whether it's price, styling, quality, refinement, interior, exterior, power, reliability, ride, handling, it seems every car suffers in one area or another.

Of course, you'll never get everyone to agree, and you can't satify everyone's needs. But I think you could come very close to creating the perfect car based on specific requirements filling a certain set of needs. And if I was designing the perfect $30 grand sport sedan, I would start with the TSX.

Requirements:

Sporty -- since I'm designing a "sport" sedan, I want more than modest power. It has to handle well. Absolutely has to make me want to find a new curvy road. Good front-rear balance, approaching 50/50 if not exactly. Awesome steering feel, brake response, and shifting performance (from both a standard and auto tranny). Acceleration will be key.

Luxurious -- one word: refined. Leather seating and trim. Quality plastic components. Power everything. Well thought out storage spaces. A steering wheel you love to touch, everywhere.

Sedan -- hard to design a sport sedan without four doors. I want to be able to cart people around when necessary, and not feel like I'm subjecting them to a torture experiment when they are in the back seats. Comfortable enough to seat four adults on a long trip for dinner out and back home. Or for 2, maybe 3, kids in the back.

Style -- contemporary, slightly aggressive, adult (sorry kiddies -- you'll have to use your allowance to rice it up).

Quality/reliability -- very high.

Misc appointments -- need folding seats, lighted mirrors, so on and so forth.

Price -- under $30 grand, optioned out.


As you can see, the TSX is very close to meeting all of these requirements. What would I change? Here's a brief list:

Power -- let's get this puppy rolling! The TSX is not underpowered, but it always left me wanting a bit more. I would do whatever was necessary to get the performance numbers in this area: 0-60mph in the 6.0 second range. No more than 6.5. What would that take? A V6? I6? Blown I4? Turbo I5? I'm not an automotive engineer, so I don't know exactly what would be required. Seems like another 20-25 horsies, and another 40-50 lb/ft of torque would get us into that range. Sounds like a turbocharged 4 cyl may be the answer. Mazda is slapping a factory installed turbo on the Miata (MazdaSpeed version), and the price is only going up by like $800 buckeroos. Nice.

Power delivery -- RWD. Yeah, I know some folks are going to disagree, but for my perfect sports luxury sedan, I listed sporty first. I don't plan on driving a $30 grand sports car through any significant snow. In light snow/slush, a traction control/stability control system will help make up for lack of weight over the drive tires. Of course, this car will be better balanced, so weight distribution will not be so front-heavy anyhow. No AWD -- sucks too much power. Maybe as an option for those who just have to have it, but only as an option.

Autostick on the TSX is superb -- don't change anything except for the gear ratios to get the most out of the engine. The manual tranny feels slick, and gear engagement is snappy-positive. Again, alter gear ratios to take advantage of the additional power. Make the last gear a little taller so that the engine is around 2500 rpm at 75 mph. Would increase mileage, lower engine wear, and lower some noise.

Maybe tune up the suspension to account for more power available in the turns. Seems like BMW has the market cornered for tuning suspensions for both ride and handling, but why? It's not black magic. It's not like cooking a Chocolate soufle'. Find out what they do, and do it better. It's what the Japanese automakers excel at doing, so why does the average Camry have to handle so terribly? But I digress...

Styling -- Japanese companies are getting better at making their sedans less bland, but just touch more distinctiveness would be great. I still think the Germans do a better job of exterior styling (Chris Bangle-ized designs aside). The A4 and 3 Series are nice examples of sport-luxury in terms of exterior style. The TSX is close, but just a tad behind. I wouldn't change much. Maybe a crease here or there, redesigned air-dam, slightly smaller grille.

Interior styling is fantastic on the TSX. Slight redesign on the wheel so that it looks a little less Star Trek-y, and a little less like the Accord Coupe's wheel, and it would be stellar. I'm just not fond of the upside-down triangle look. VW makes a nice 3-spoke design. Start there and make it feel smooth, slick, organic, creamy, soft, substantial, weighty. I would also like the leather all around to feel a bit more exensive. Sound system needs to be as good as the one in the TL. There's no reason for anything less these days, in any car over $20K.

Steering -- let a little more of the road thru to the driver, but keep the TSX's point-and-shoot nature. Maybe tighten up the feel a touch.

Quality -- I don't know that I would change anything. Make the TSX quality as high as any Acura's, and you've got a wonderfully reliable car. Only time will tell what the current reliability is, but Acura has a very good track record.

Misc appointments -- Power passenger seat. Driver seat/exterior mirror memory. Rain-sensing wipers. Keep updating that awesome DVD navi system. Little more storage space. Move moon roof controls up near the moon roof (where they should be anyhow). Offer real wood or aluminum trim. Automatic headlamps. Option for racing-styled seats in different colors. Integrated blue tooth. A factory stereo system with the ability to interface natively with an MP3 player without fuss (USB port anyone?).


I would pay a little more than the current TSX price for this car. Say, $29,500 with nav, around $27,500 without as an estimate.

What else would you do?

Ferg


PS -- Of course, I'm waiting for larchmont to chime in and say "I wouldn't change anything!!".
 

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Great post, Ferg! And needless to say I wouldn't quarrel with the idea of starting with the TSX. :D
Not that many other people would start there, I don't think, not even TSX'ers!

And indeed I wouldn't need as many things to be changed.
Power passenger seat, definitely.
Memory seats, definitely.
Slightly increased storage capacity -- sure, why not. :D

And I'd add a couple of extra things: Ferg didn't say anything about the brakes. The TSX braking is OK but not up to the rest of the car. The brakes would definitely, definitely have to be upgraded for this to be anywhere near the perfect car.

And finally: Ferg talked about suspension, but not about "ride comfort." The TSX ride is OK to me, but not by much. It's GREAT on smooth surfaces, but once we get into choppy pavement, or, stuff like expansion joints and speed bumps, it's not what we'd want it to be. OK, but barely.
 

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Great thread.

Here's my recipe: Start with the TSX. Replace leather with cloth, take out the sunroof. Reduce weight by 400 lbs. Lower the beltline. Keep the I4, but increase power by 50 hp, bump the redline up to 8000, and put in AWD. Keep the MT. Make the tach bigger and move it to the center of the gauge cluster. Put amber turn signals in the back. And, as Larch said, beef up the brakes.
 

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dnb said:
.....Start with the TSX. Replace leather with cloth, take out the sunroof. Reduce weight by 400 lbs. Lower the beltline. Keep the I4, but increase power by 50 hp, bump the redline up to 8000, and put in AWD. Keep the MT. Make the tach bigger and move it to the center of the gauge cluster. Put amber turn signals in the back. And, as Larch said, beef up the brakes.
DNB wants to cross the TSX with a Harley. :D
Or something.

Hey DNB, by any chance do you almost love the Evo.....
 

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dnb said:
.....Reduce weight by 400 lbs......increase power by 50 hp.....
LOLOLOLOLOL!

Reminds me of Steve Martin's old routine about how to be a millionaire and not pay any taxes:

"1. Get a million dollars."
 

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larchmont said:
LOLOLOLOLOL!

Reminds me of Steve Martin's old routine about how to be a millionaire and not pay any taxes:

"1. Get a million dollars."
Actually, the weight reduction and hp increase are not that farfetched. The Civic and other cars in its class are very close in size to the TSX yet weigh 2600 -- 2800 lbs. (The Civic EX is probably the heaviest nonhybrid Civic at 2668 lbs.) And there's a quite a bit of untapped hp in the K24. This is a relatively young engine, and there's room for modifying the intake, ECU, etc. I just saw a dyno plot for a modded K20 that had 230 hp at the wheels. Assuming a drivetrain loss of > 10%, this translates to > 255 hp at the crank.
 

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dnb said:
Actually, the weight reduction and hp increase are not that farfetched. The Civic and other cars in its class are very close in size to the TSX yet weigh 2600 -- 2800 lbs. (The Civic EX is probably the heaviest nonhybrid Civic at 2668 lbs.) And there's a quite a bit of untapped hp in the K24. This is a relatively young engine, and there's room for modifying the intake, ECU, etc. I just saw a dyno plot for a modded K20 that had 230 hp at the wheels. Assuming a drivetrain loss of > 10%, this translates to > 255 hp at the crank.
Great and interesting material (usually I would just say "stuff," but to someone like DNB I feel I have to say "material" :D ).

And here is where I max out in discussions like this, because :donno:
Actually it's worse than :donno: -- more like it's Japanese to me. Although with the help of these forums I'm almost beginning to get it.

Nevertheless, a few things:

-- From my admittedly un-knowledgeable view, I wouldn't think that the Civic's low weight really advances this point. If anything, I'd think a car's "volume" (or something like that) would be the relevant thing when we're talking about stock cars. (No?) But yes, I see at least partly what you mean, and I guess that's one reason that Civics are so ripe for modding.

-- I didn't know the K24 was regarded as having clear untapped HP -- in fact I thought it was assumed that Honda/Acura had pushed it about as far as it could go, without a significant change in the technology. Despite which I've been blithely predicting (with no basis whatsoever :D ) that the '05 TSX will have about 220 HP.
I figure they'll add a couple of features (e.g. maybe power passenger seat) that increase the weight a little, and that they'll make sure to increase the power so that performance won't suffer -- and that while they're at it, they'll also make sure to increase the power a little extra so that the performance will actually be better.
Yes, typical ivory-tower thinking, but without the ivory or the tower. :D

BTW the people at my Acura service assure me there won't be any changes in the TSX for '05. But (no offense if they read this, which I'm pretty sure they don't :D ) I don't put much credence in that, even if they turn out to be right. I asked them just for the heck of it.
 

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BTW anybody but me think of Gary Condit when they see the title of this thread?

"I'm not a perfect man." :nervous:
 

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larchmont said:
I didn't know the K24 was regarded as having clear untapped HP -- in fact I thought it was assumed that Honda/Acura had pushed it about as far as it could go, without a significant change in the technology.
Oh, no. IMHO, the K series is very young; it probably hasn't even reached puberty. (So the 2004 TSX has a prepubescent engine.)
For one example of what's untapped, see http://www.vtec.net/articles/view-article?article_id=101836&page_number=1

Think of the B series (Civics, etc.) and J series (TL, Odyssey, etc.) Honda/Acura got more and more hp over each series' lifetime.


Despite which I've been blithely predicting (with no basis whatsoever :D ) that the '05 TSX will have about 220 HP.
I can't think of an instance where Honda/Acura increased the hp in the year just after a model's/generation's introduction.
 

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dnb said:
.....I can't think of an instance where Honda/Acura increased the hp in the year just after a model's/generation's introduction.
Right. And that's basically what my service people said. But I figure this could be an exception because of how long it will have been between the model years -- almost 1.5 yrs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
larchmont said:


And I'd add a couple of extra things: Ferg didn't say anything about the brakes. The TSX braking is OK but not up to the rest of the car. The brakes would definitely, definitely have to be upgraded for this to be anywhere near the perfect car.

And finally: Ferg talked about suspension, but not about "ride comfort." The TSX ride is OK to me, but not by much. It's GREAT on smooth surfaces, but once we get into choppy pavement, or, stuff like expansion joints and speed bumps, it's not what we'd want it to be. OK, but barely.

Ahhh, yes. I totally forgot to mention the brakes. Agreed -- needs more stopping power over the ok factory setup. Have you thought of some upgraded pads to help in that area? Has anyone here changed out the pads to help stopping power?

As for using the TSX as the basis, I really thought it was the best starting point. There are cheaper, faster cars, but none really combine looks/quality/refinement/features/price the way that the TSX does. The WRX, for instance, stikes me as raw unrefined power in an ugly car with an interior that lacks the features and nice design of the TSX. Maxima is another viable candidate, but it's ugly inside and out, a little pricey, and a little on the large side. The Accord would be a decent starting point, but would require a total body and suspension redesign. Honda Civic? I think a body redesign would be in order, along with some damping and suspension tweaking (certainly more tweaking than would be required on a TSX).

The new GTO has potential, but again, it's a boring design (at least the outside), is a little pricey, and as a GM/Holden product I wonder about reliability and resale issues.

I can't think of any Chrysler product I would buy, so I totally left them out. Their sporty Neon-like thing is fast, but again, unrefined, stupid looking, and quality is lacking, to be frank.

Oldsmobile or Caddy? Can't think of anything there. Caddy seems to be on to something with some of it's recent cars, but the design is sooo far off the mark, I wonder what they're smoking over there. They also tend to be way overpriced with horrid depreciation. And let's face it -- quality has been an issue in the past, even though it appears that GM as a whole may be turning that around.

Ford? Again, they have a sporty "Focus" or something, but while it may be as fast as, or faster than the current TSX, the TSX is much closer to being a sport-luxury sedan. The 500 is going to be too big, and the Taurus is a huge yawn.

Doesn't leave much out there. I'll pass on the idea of making a Kia or Hyundai the base for my perfect sport lux sedan. The new Subaru Legacy may be as close as the TSX, but of course it's not availably yet, so there's no way of knowing.

The new S40 looks interesting with the turbocharged I5. Good safety (most likely), decent resale, historically okay quality, and it looks good. So maybe I could make a case here. I suspect the fast version is going to price out at over $30K when optioned like the TSX.

Of course, if BMW was to take a loaded 330i, lop 10 or 12 grand off the price, and update the interior, then that would be a good place to start too! :D

But seriously, I was trying to think of the one car that needed the least amount of changes, and I tried to keep those changes reasonable. Almost every other sedan I can think of would require more work to meet my requirements than the TSX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
dnb said:
Oh, no. IMHO, the K series is very young; it probably hasn't even reached puberty. (So the 2004 TSX has a prepubescent engine.)
For one example of what's untapped, see http://www.vtec.net/articles/view-article?article_id=101836&page_number=1
Hey dnb, good article/link! The dyno graphs show large increases in HP, but not so much on the torque side. My personal feeling is, I would rather have more torque than horsepower. Torque is what you feel off the line -- it's what gets you moving, fast. For instance, I would take a 190 hp engine that cranks out 230 lb/ft of torque, over a 260 hp engine that turns 210 lb/ft. Am I just being silly? I admit that I'm no expert in this area....

You seem to be quite knowledgeable on the subject, so I will pose this question to you: even if HP was boosted to 260+, but torque was still relatively modest (around 170 or so) how would the 60 horse increase manifest itself in engine performance? Does it just affect top speed? Would the car be any faster off the line? :confused:
 

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Ferg said:
Hey dnb, good article/link! The dyno graphs show large increases in HP, but not so much on the torque side.
Yup, you won't increase the torque unless you go to forced induction or increased displacement.


My personal feeling is, I would rather have more torque than horsepower. Torque is what you feel off the line -- it's what gets you moving, fast. For instance, I would take a 190 hp engine that cranks out 230 lb/ft of torque, over a 260 hp engine that turns 210 lb/ft.
For me it's more of a fun-to-drive issue. A low hp, high torque engine means a low redline, such as a large displacement truck engine or a diesel. A high hp, low torque engine means something small and high revving such as an ITR or S2000 engine.


You seem to be quite knowledgeable on the subject, so I will pose this question to you: even if HP was boosted to 260+, but torque was still relatively modest (around 170 or so) how would the 60 horse increase manifest itself in engine performance? Does it just affect top speed?
Assuming the absence of forced induction or larger displacement, such an increase in hp is achieved by increasing the redline. So you won't see the additional horses unless you're at high rpms.

Would the car be any faster off the line?
Not really.
 

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dnb said:
Actually, the weight reduction and hp increase are not that farfetched. The Civic and other cars in its class are very close in size to the TSX yet weigh 2600 -- 2800 lbs.
I've spent quite a bit of time in the current Civic (my mom has one) and I can vouch that the TSX is noticeably larger car. Add to that another 700cc engine displacement, dual exhaust, beefier suspension, seat and side curtain airbags, and a bunch of other options. When that's factored in, I don't think the Civic is really more more advanced in terms of weight savings.
 

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kiteboy said:
I've spent quite a bit of time in the current Civic (my mom has one) and I can vouch that the TSX is noticeably larger car.
The Civic is ~ 8 inches shorter than the TSX because its engine compartment is shorter but taller; they moved the steering rack up and moved the engine back.

If you look at interior dimensions, the Civic is very close to the TSX. Their interior lengths are almost identical, and the width of the Civic's interior is narrower than the TSX's by < 2 inches.

[EDIT: Fixed some errors in my comparison of dimensions.]


Add to that another 700cc engine displacement, dual exhaust, beefier suspension, seat and side curtain airbags, and a bunch of other options. When that's factored in, I don't think the Civic is really more more advanced in terms of weight savings.
Oh, I didn't claim the Civic was more advanced in terms of weight savings. All I claimed was the existence of cars close in size to the TSX that weigh 400 -- 500 lbs less.
 

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dnb said:
The Civic is ~ 6 inches shorter than the TSX because its engine compartment is shorter but taller; they moved the steering rack up and moved the engine back.

If you look at interior dimensions, the Civic is very close to the TSX. IIRC their interior widths are almost identical, and the length of the Civic's interior is shorter than the TSX's by < 2 inches.....

Oh, I didn't claim the Civic was more advanced in terms of weight savings. All I claimed was the existence of cars close in size to the TSX that weigh 400 -- 500 lbs less.
Still, I'm not sure it's right to view the Civic as a car whose size is truly comparable to the TSX.
Although, I must say, today coincidentally I parked next to a Civic and my first reaction was, "Hey, it's BIG!" But viewing the cars side to side, despite the factors you mention, I can't say I could see the cars as comparable in size. I'd say they're a good quantum apart.

But maybe that's not mainly what you meant anyway. From what you say, it sounds like maybe the ENGINE COMPARTMENTS are similar in size, which is probably the most relevant thing to the basic subject here.....
 

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larchmont said:
Still, I'm not sure it's right to view the Civic as a car whose size is truly comparable to the TSX.
Although, I must say, today coincidentally I parked next to a Civic and my first reaction was, "Hey, it's BIG!" But viewing the cars side to side, despite the factors you mention, I can't say I could see the cars as comparable in size. I'd say they're a good quantum apart.
Let me go the other way, then, and compare the TSX's curb weight to those of two other I-4, 4-door cars that are slightly larger than the TSX:

TSX: 3230 lbs
Accord: 3144
Altima: 3001

I'd claim there's room for weight reduction in the TSX. Of course, there may be tradeoffs involved, such as an increase in NVH.
 

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dnb said:
.....there's room for weight reduction in the TSX. Of course, there may be tradeoffs involved, such as an increase in NVH.
Yes indeed -- big tradeoffs IMO.

Hmmm, let's see, should we say what that stands for, or should we just let everybody stew in it for a while? :D


I had to look it up again -- I always do! :donno:


The TSX's hefty weight/size ratio IMO is a major factor in it being the car that it is.
 
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