Friday, October 22, 2010

Honda Inspire 1st Generation to 5th Generation

On October 12, 1989, the "inspired Accord" was introduced. The Honda Inspire was shared with the Honda Vigor, which was a previous generation upper trim level JDM Honda Accord, and was later sold in the USA as the Acura Vigor. The Honda Inspire shared its platform with the flagship Honda Legend, which was co-developed with British Leyland and used for the Rover 800. The Inspire was introduced before the recession developed in Japan in the early 1990s, and Honda wanted a car that would compete with the Toyota Cresta and Nissan Laurel, with the unique inline 5 cylinder Honda G engine, in a front wheel drive configuration. The Inspire was very successful for Honda. This 5 cylinder engine was also used in the JDM Honda Rafaga, which was a sedan.

The bodystyle was a 4-door hardtop, but it wasn't a true hardtop, using a "B" pillar between the front and rear passenger compartments, but used frameless side doors.

The Inspire was offered before the recession took hold of Japan's economy during the early 1990s, and offered a luxurious approach to the interior. Interior appearance was provided by the Japanese furniture company, Tendo Mokko, offering unique leather interior and genuine wood inserts for the dashboard and center console. A choice of wood inserts were offered.

The SOHC 4 valve per cylinder G20A Straight-5 cylinder was all new, with a choice of 2.0 L or 2.5 L engine displacement. The five cylinder was a compromise between the smaller, frugal but weaker 4 cylinder engine, and the larger, less fuel efficient V6 engine, as Honda wanted the engine to be a good match for the Inspire's luxury aspirations. The harshness typical of a 5 cylinder engine was minimized by adding a counter rotating balance shaft and improved engine motor mounts. The engine produced adequate torque, which helped its fuel efficiency. The transmission is attached to the bottom of the engine, which allowed the powertrain to remain slightly behind the front wheels.

The vehicles offered by competitors were front engine and rear drive, which put the Inspire at a disadvantage with the weight of the powertrain being entirely over the front axle. The turning radius of the Inspire also was not as tight as its competitors, but the Inspire did have an advantage in adverse traction conditions.

The second generation Inspire was almost identical in its dimensions to the first generation Honda Legend, with that vehicle having been updated and enlarged to better fit the role of flagship for the Honda and Acura brands. The second generation Inspire was available with the Type I 3.2 L V6 offered in the Legend on July 6, 1995, while still offering the Straight 5 in both 2.0 L and 2.5 L versions. The profile of this vehicle was reduced somewhat to 1,405 mm (55.3 in). The luxury approach was enhanced.

The Inspire was also sold as the Honda Saber (Japanese: ホンダ・セイバー) and sold at the Honda Verno sales network, and mechanically identical to the UA1-UA3 Inspire

November 8, 1996 saw the introduction of dual airbags for front seat passengers and anti-lock brakes as standard.

As the recession in Japan began to take hold, cost cutting measures began to appear in the reduction in the quality of the interior. The interior approach began to take on a more family sedan friendly appearance, with influences from the Honda Odyssey.

This version of the Inspire competed with the Toyota Camry Gracia, Mark II, Cresta and Chaser, the Nissan Cefiro and Skyline, the Mazda Millenia and the Mitsubishi Diamante.

The third generation Honda Inspire/Saber was introduced October 15, 1998, and was the first Honda designed and built in the USA and imported to Japan. It was based on the CG series, USA-spec Honda Accord sedan, and closely related to the new Honda Torneo. Sales of the popular USA-spec Honda Accord began to be affected by the SUV growing in popularity, and Honda decided to send some of the Accords being produced in the USA to Japan.

The Inspire no longer offered the Straight-5 engine, and instead offered the 3.2 L J32A V6 and 2.5 L J25A V6 with VTEC, and a choice of a 4- or 5-speed automatic transmission. The bodystyle was changed from hardtop to sedan as a result of the USA-spec Accord having been upgraded to meet USA requirements for improved side impact protection.

The Honda Saber was discontinued April 2003 along with the consolidation of the Honda Japan sales network Primo, Clio and Verno.

The fifth generation Honda Inspire was released on December 19, 2007 in Japan, with a further increased enhancement to the vehicles dimensions, which are on par with the second generation Honda Legend. The Inspire is now one level below the fourth generation Honda Legend, with a comparable level of luxury and refinement of the Legend. The AWD system, called "SH-AWD" is not available on this iteration of the Inspire, however. Honda technologies such as "CMBS", Adaptive Cruise Control, called IHCC and HDD navigation equipment are included.

The Inspire now uses the base model V6 from the Legend. The power steering is now electric power assisted for better handling and response.

This vehicle is now being made available in Thailand and Southeast Asia, using the 2.0L, 2.4 L DOHC K24A and 3.5L with i-VTEC under the name Honda Accord. There are few exterior and interior differences between this Inspire and the USA-spec Honda Accord.

Photo of the gasket is for Honda Inspire G20A straight 5 cylinder engine. Source of data on the Honda Inspire model article is from

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