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High Speed Oval - HiDS

NOTE: All photographs displayed on this page were shot by official Honda photographers. Photography and videography was not allowed outside of the G-CON center.

Our group's first stop was the high-speed oval test track. Here we would sample several different Honda vehicles, some of which were fitted with Honda's lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, and variable cylinder management technologies.

The first car I wheeled out of the "paddocks" was a 2.4L StepWGN. This was my first time on a banked oval and I was having second thoughts about pushing the StepWGN up on the high banks, considering its tall, narrow stance (somewhat reminiscent of a Wheaties box turned on its side). It turns out my instincts were mistaken - the StepWGN was exceedingly stable all the way up to its governed top speed of 180 kph. The K-series motor continues to impress - acceleration of the StepWGN 2.4 was reasonably peppy, and the motor had no trouble at all pulling right up to the speed limiter while remaining smooth and quiet. The 2.0L version obviously felt a little weaker, but it still managed to move the 7-passenger vehicle with decent verve. The 2.0L was only able to push the StepWGN to an indicated 175kph, however.

Technical Note: HiDS
Honda's lane keeping and adaptive cruise control technologies are offered as part of a package called HiDS (Honda Intelligent Driver Support System).

The LKAS lane keeping system employs a CMOS-based video camera (aimed through the windshield) to track the vehicle's lane position. Images captured by the camera are sent through standard image processing algorithms to detect lane markings. If the system determines that the vehicle is straying from its lane, it will apply an appropriate amount of corrective steering through the vehicle's electric power steering system.

Honda's IHCC adaptive cruise control system utilizes radar to lock on to a vehicle traveling directly ahead of it and maintain a set distance between the vehicles. The driver positions the vehicle and then sets the desired distance to maintain. The system indicates whether or not it has a "lock" on the vehicle in front and once it is locked it will maintain the set distance through braking and throttle application.

Demonstrations of Honda's lane keeping (LKAS - Lane Keeping Assist System) and adaptive cruise control (IHCC - Intelligent Highway Cruise Control) technologies were the primary emphasis of this session. We were able to sample both systems as fitted to Accord Tourers (wagon). As you've probably come to expect from Honda, both systems worked exactly as advertised. The lane keeping system felt a little creepy, like a spirit was tugging at the wheel from time to time, but you could easily steer through its corrections if necessary. The adaptive cruise control system worked as advertised, and not surprisingly, was intuitive to use. As far as the Accord Tourer goes, it drives quite well. It's difficult to really gauge the handling of a vehicle on an oval course, but it generally drove like a slighly heavier TSX. I seemed to be able to sense the additional mass in the rear of the vehicle, and the suspension seemed to be tuned softer, but I'd really have to drive it on something other than an oval to make any sort of realistic comparison. The Accord's cloth interior was very nicely done as well. It would be great to see a cloth interior of this grade in the TSX. Other journalists in our group seemed to like the Accord Tourer as well. I overheard a lot of positive comments related to the styling, fit and finish, and packaging of the car.

To demonstrate Honda's new Variable Cylinder Management technology, Honda provided a few Inspires. As I expected, the variable cylinder management system operated virtually imperceptibly. If not for the green indicator light on the gauge cluster, it was difficult, if not impossible to know that 3 of the 6 cylinders were being shut down. The Inspire itself is largely based upon the US-market Accord V6, yet it has a more upscale feel to the interior.

For some reason, Honda waited until the session had almost ended to roll out the German i-CTDi Accord Tourer. As soon as I spotted it, I sprinted across the lot so I could have a chance to sample Honda's first diesel effort. Before climbing in the car, I quickly circled the car as it idled, just to see if I could hear or smell any telltale signs of its diesel powerplant. While there was a fair bit of ambient noise from other cars around us, my first impression of the i-CTDi was quite favorable - I was not able to hear any sort of diesel clatter. The i-CTDi's aromatic emissions were extremely subtle as well. Satisfied, I jumped in and motored away.

I suppose I was expecting a bit snappier response off the line, but it felt a tad soft for a brief moment until the turbo spooled up. Once into the boost, there was a smooth surge of torque and a commensurate gain in pace. Like most turbo diesels, the torque curve is steep and relatively narrow, so even though there's a tremendous amount of peak torque, you have to shift pretty quickly to stay in the meat of the powerband. That said, the Accord accelerated up to 200 kph with relative ease. After that, it took a while to get there, but it managed to nudge beyond 210kph. At that speed, the car was quite stable, but there was a bit more wind noise than I had expected. The engine itself operated much like the TSX's K24, which is to say very smoothly and quietly. The main difference is the oil burner's abbreviated rev capacity and narrower band of torque.

Read Part II of the Dream Sequence

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Subject Thread Originator Replies Last Post
  Luxurious Inspire
calsammo 11
  Look at the Crash test closely
vtechbrain 1
teo409 3
  When will we see those new features in US?
le 0
  Does the Inspire handle similarly to the Accord V6?
Power Of Dreams 2
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