Honda Ascot

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Honda Ascot
Automotive industryHonda
Production1989-1997
SuccessorHonda Torneo
Car classificationMid-size car
Car body style4-door Saloon car

The Honda Ascot was a Mid-size car Saloon car (mid-size sedan) manufactured by Honda and marketed in Japan only from 1989 to 1997. There were two generations of the car, based on the contemporary Honda Accord and Honda Inspire, respectively. Additionally, from 1993 to 1996 a "pillared Hardtop" model based on the Accord was marketed in Japan as Honda Ascot Innova, being equivalent to the Swindon-made European-market Accord at that time.

The "Ascot" name was chosen with reference to the Ascot Racecourse and Ascot tie, in order to add the model an alleged air of class and elegance.


Contents

First generation (CB)


Honda Ascot (CB)
Honda Ascot (CB)
Automotive industryHonda
Production1989-1993
Car classificationMid-size car
Car body style4-door Saloon car
Automobile layoutFF layout, Transverse engine
RelatedHonda Accord (CB)

The first Honda Ascot was borne out Honda's strategy to diversify its sales channels in Japan. In 1985, two separate dealer networks were established, under the names of "Honda Clio" and "Honda Primo", in addition to the already existing "Honda Verno" network. While the Primo stores handled Kei cars, as well as base Honda Civics, the Clio stores focused on larger models, including the top-of-the-line Honda Legend. With the arrival of the fourth-generation Honda Accord (CB), its sales were assigned solely to Honda Clio.

That meant, however, that the Honda Primo network needed a new intermediate-size car. Honda adopted a rather simple solution (quite common in such cases in the Japan Domestic Market market) of creating a "sister car" to Accord, the Honda Ascot. Technically, the Ascot was identical to the Accord saloon, and so was most of the body, but some cosmetic differences provided for a different look, befitting the Ascot's upmarket role as the top-of-the-line model of Honda Primo. The Ascot had a six-light Greenhouse (automotive term) compared to the regular Accord's four-light layout, and featured a different front end with a more formal grille, as well as a revised rear end with a unified light belt.

The Ascot was launched on September 13, 1989, and the Television advertisement initially featured the "Take the A-Train" Jazz standard. Later on, Honda decided to change the marketing image of the car, employing Eric Clapton to do the commercials. In August 1991, a rehashed Ascot was presented, allegedly "refined to better suit the Japanese taste". In March 1992, Honda presented an all-new Honda Ascot Innova (see below), while the regular Ascot was replaced by an all-new model in 1993.

Ascot Innova


Honda Ascot Innova
Honda Ascot Innova
Automotive industryHonda
Production1992-1996
Car classificationMid-size car
Car body style4-door "Hardtop" Saloon car
Automobile layoutFF layout, Longitudinal engine
RelatedHonda Accord (CB)
Rover 600

Launched on March 5, 1992, the Ascot Innova was also based on the CB Accord underpinnings, but was given an all-new, modern-looking and rounded body, with styling similar to the 1991 Honda Prelude coupe. The Innova was fitted with frameless side glazing to provide for the "pillared Hardtop" look, thus being Honda's answer to cars like the Toyota Carina ED/Toyota Carina EXiV and Mitsubishi Emeraude.

The Innova retained the original Ascot's six-light greenhouse layout and horizontal taillights, as well as long, sleek and low body proportions (as opposed to the second-generation Ascot's upright stance and more Accord CF-like rear end). As such, it was somewhat similar to the Efini MS-6, which, like the Ascot Innova, was marketed in Europe under a less exclusive nameplate, becoming the regular Mazda 626 hatchback.

The Ascot Innova was available in two four-cylinder engine choices: the 2.0-litre F20A unit, producing 135 PS in the less expensive 2.0iC and 2.0i versions, and 150  in the 2.0Si trim, and the H-series 2.3-litre H23A engine fitted in the export versions of the Prelude, producing 165 HP (the 2.3-litre versions were designated 2.3Si-Z). Interestingly, while the 2.0-litre versions maintained the 1695 mm width which allowed them to remain in the favorable tax class, the 2.3-litre Innovas were 1710 mm wide, as the engine displacement didn't allow them to remain in the lower tax band anyway.

A 4 wheel steering like the one in the Prelude was made available for the 2.0i, 2.0Si and 2.3Si-Z versions. Apart from the cheapest 2.0iC version, which came with a 5-speed Manual transmission, all Ascot Innovas came with a 4-speed Automatic transmission. The Ascot Innova range started at Japanese yen1,558,000 for the 2.0iC in the Tokyo sales area, while the most expensive 2.3Si-Z fetched ¥2,992,000 in Sapporo area, not including extra charges for options such as 4-wheel steering, Sunroof, passenger Airbag or Anti-lock braking system. The television advertising campaign was built around the slogan "Hardtop Innovation" and featured the American actress Geena Davis.

The Innova itself remained a JDM-only model, and a Honda Primo exclusive, with no JDM sister cars, but it spawned a very closely related European derivative, which was made in Swindon, UK and marketed in Europe as Honda Accord saloon in lieu of the Accord sedans sold in most other markets. The European Accord and the Ascot Innova differ only slightly, with the Accord being wider and featuring framed windows.

The European Accord was in turn the base for the Rover 600 saloon, developed under Honda's long-standing relationship with the British Rover Group. The Rover 600 and the Swindon Accord also shared two engine options not available for the Ascot Innova - Honda's F18A 1.8-litre unit and Rover L-Series engine Turbodiesel. The Ascot Innova remained in production until 1996, while the European Accord saloon continued until 1998, when it was replaced with an all-new model.

Second generation (CE)


Honda Ascot (CE)
Honda Ascot (CE)
Automotive industryHonda
Also calledHonda Rafaga
Production1993-1997
Car classificationMid-size car
Car body style4-door Saloon car
Automobile layoutFF layout, Longitudinal engine
RelatedHonda Inspire
Honda Vigor

The next-generation (CD) Accord grew in size considerably, mostly to satisfy the American market requirements, and thus became too big to fit within the favorable Japanese tax class (taxation on cars in Japan depends, among other factors, on outside dimensions). Therefore, Honda needed a slightly smaller intermediate car to cater for the JDM market, and this duty was assigned to the new Honda Ascot.

Rather than being directly based on the Accord, the new Ascot was given its own platform, with the codenames CE4/5, derived from the larger Honda Inspire and its sister car, Vigor. Like the Inspire, Vigor and the even larger Honda Legend, the CE Ascot had its engines mounted Longitudinal engine, contrary to the Accord and most other Front-wheel drive cars, employing the Transverse engine.

The new Ascot had a rather formal upright appearance, being shorter but taller than both the CD Accord, Ascot Innova and the Inspire, thus continuing the first Ascot's role as a premium formal sedan. It was fitted with the Straight-5 Honda G engine, also employed by the Inspire and Vigor, in two displacement versions - 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre, with the gearbox slotted underneath it. The Ascot also spawned a sister car, the Honda Rafaga, to be sold in the Honda Verno stores, which differed from the Ascot only by different external trim details. Both models were replaced by the Accord-based Honda Torneo in 1997.

References

  • The article incorporates text translated from the corresponding Japanese Wikipedia articles on the Ja:ホンダ・アスコット as of April 14, 2007.
  • The article incorporates text translated from the corresponding Japanese Wikipedia articles on the Ja:ホンダ・アスコットイノーバ as of April 14, 2007.

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