Honda officially announced that there will be a unique Accord gracing race tracks across America this year. The Honda Performance Development (HPD) safety car, which made its debut at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama the other weekend, was designed to be what Honda calls “a fun, fast vehicle fully capable of pacing Indy cars at both road courses and oval tracks across North America.”
For those who do not follow IndyCar, it is important to note that this is Honda’s ninth year of using a production vehicle as a safety car, and that these cars are key when setting the pace for race cars if the course is under caution. When the flags all go yellow, it means an accident has occurred and safety (not speed) is now paramount on the track; no one is allowed to pass each another as they follow the safety car. It actually sounds kind of boring being stuck behind an uninspired Accord sporting nothing more than some vinyl decals and some aftermarket wheels.
But this year, IndyCar drivers might have to work a little harder to keep up with their safety car, because the 2015 Accord seen here is reportedly packing quite a bit of heat under the hood. More than 400 horsepower is supposedly lurking beneath the bonnet of the 2015 HPD-tuned whip, and according to Jim Lee, manager of Experiential Marketing for American Honda, “the 2015 Honda Accord Coupe is an ideal match for IndyCar Safety Car duties.”
While engine modifications to the car have increased power and top speed significantly, the handling and aerodynamic department saw a healthy load of love as well, in order to keep the car completely under control.
However, there is a problem, and being an avid Honda/Acura fanatic, it is a large one: The majority of the amazing parts on this car will probably never be made available from Honda. The company probably won’t even toy with the idea of offering anything above a “sport version” of the car due to a general lack of interest from the public. Which, unfortunately, does make a lot of sense, considering the fact that most people buy an Accord for its reliability, safety, and low operational costs.
But if this is the case, then why has Honda recently been offering V6 versions of the Accord with a manual gearbox and sporty aero kits like the one on the HPD car seen above? Plus, with the Civic Type R and an impressive line of turbocharged engines now confirmed for U.S. release, Honda might have good reason to offer a “Type R Accord” that piggybacks on the success of its little brother.
But before we dig too deep into this amazing machine, let’s step back and recognize why offering a 400-horsepower Accord would be a good idea. There is going to be a new line of competition from Japanese automakers like Mazda, whose new turbocharged Mazdaspeed is expected to bow later this year.
And with Subaru’s recent announcement that it will be focusing on its STI department more than ever before, Honda probably is feeling the heat. The Type R is undoubtedly going to make a splash, but until its arrival, there really isn’t a high-horsepower Honda that can come close to offering what other manufacturers currently have available.
What Honda needs to do is go with what it knows: Take the boys from the HPD department and lock them in the same room with all the guys from famed Honda tuning company Mugen until they come up with a way to make a 400-horsepower Accord a smashing success.
But that is more wishful thinking on my end than logic, and even though a rear-wheel-drive Accord coupe sounds fantastic, we will probably see the Civic Type R launch long before that kind of car comes to market. Honda needs to realize that not all of us can fit in a high-revving S2000, and that a new or even a used NSX is completely out of our price range. And while the new Civic Type R is going to be amazing, it isn’t for everyone; many older car guys like myself want something a little more “grown-up” to thrash on around town.
So if we were to get our hands on one of these amazing machines today, what would make it so special? In the power department, we would find that this 3.5-liter V6 Accord packs an upgraded fuel system, a powerful air intake to go with its free-flowing exhaust, and that it is all boosted by a Borg-Warner turbocharger.
A “mini-stroker” crankshaft from an Acura RLX has been paired with HPD competition pistons and rods, and the six-speed manual transmission has been reinforced with a limited slip differential to help keep the car under control. We would also find a sports racing suspension, an HPD big brake kit, chassis stiffening throughout, power-assisted Sparco racing seats, a four-point racing harness, and some very wide Enkei alloy wheels wrapped in Firestone high-performance tires.
The only thing left on the list is the Honda body kit, which surprisingly is available for purchase at Honda dealerships across America. But who cares about a little bit of “show” if there is no “go” to back it up? HPD has helped Honda win 212 races in IndyCar to date, and according to a press release, “HPD’s Honda engines have recorded 74 race wins at endurance sports car races around the world, with 70 of those victories coming in the HPD-developed line of sports prototype cars.”
HPD even provides engines for James Glickenhaus’s $2.6 million SCG-003 supercar! So if tuners are going to slap turbochargers, race suspension, bigger brakes, and race seats in these cars anyways, why doesn’t Honda just take the money all at once and offer a “Type R Accord” to the public? Who knows, maybe Honda is testing this car out all season just to make sure it is ready for production.