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2002 SEMA: Far East, Far Out

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Get it all: 2002 SEMA Show Coverage (11/6/2002)
The sport-compact car culture from nearby California has always had a convenient outlet in Las Vegas — and this year’s SEMA show proved that, if anything, Japan’s automakers are more committed than ever to keeping the sport-compact crowd enthralled.

Now, the SEMA show has been a tradition for Asia’s automakers for as long as tuners have been manhandling Civics and Sentras and wedging impossible amounts of power into them. But the flourish of tuners and factory efforts made previous shows seem slight.

With more manufacturers showing more of their own “aftermarket” efforts than ever, the Japanese brands made a showy splash with new packages and pieces coming to dealers and to their accessories outfits. Grouped by manufacturer, here’s just some of what they brought:

HONDA

Honda’s longstanding support of after-factory racing has led to more bits and pieces for its performance coupes — and for the Accord Coupe, which the company is ladling with far more post-factory attention than in the past.

2003 Honda Accord Coupe Factory Package

2003 Honda Accord Coupe Factory Package

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The ’03 Accord Coupe’s Factory Performance (FP) package brings better suspension pieces, as well as 17-inch wheels and tires and unique body trim. The suspension pieces lower the ride height by about an inch, and tighter shocks are said to cut body roll. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels get 50-series tires, and the underbody gets smoother airflow with the addition of an underbody kit. It goes on sale, Honda says, in early 2003 for less than $5000. The Accord FP package will join the Civic EX FP and Acura RSX Type-S FP packages on the Honda/Acura showroom floors, and gets the standard Honda three-year/36,000-mile warranty.

2002 Honda Accord Coupe Concept

2002 Honda Accord Coupe Concept

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Taking another step down the performance road was the Accord Concept Coupe, which makes do with a 300-hp 3.2-liter V-6 motor and a semi-automatic six-speed gearbox. New body pieces, interior mods and a race-tuned suspension round out the concept, which isn’t anticipated for production.

2003 Honda Civic Si Concept

2003 Honda Civic Si Concept

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Twin Civic concepts graced Honda’s SEMA stand, too. The Civic Si concept sports a rally-style body kit, a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a slickly styled interior.

2002 Honda Civic Si Mugen

2002 Honda Civic Si Mugen

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The Civic Si Mugen dips into the longtime Honda modifier’s parts bin to find a 240-hp Japanese-market engine and a six-speed gearbox, interlinked with a limited-slip differential. Mugen bits grace everything from brake lines to the thermostat; the tires are Bridgestone 45-series and, well, black.
2003 Acura RSX Type-S FP

2003 Acura RSX Type-S FP

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Acura has performance of its own on display at SEMA. The RSX Type-S with the FP package gets racing-tuned shocks and springs which lower the car by about an inch. Seventeen-inch tires and better brake pads widen the performance envelope of the already well-balanced Type-S, and a rear spoiler lets everyone know this isn’t the typical Acura. The FP package adds $4800 to the sticker.

In addition to their RSX Type-S FP package, Acura also showed a CL Type-S unlike any you’ll find in a showroom. The supercharged concept gets body flares, a six-speed manual gearbox and a Comptech supercharger for its V-6 engine. Horsepower is quoted at 312; 19-inch wheels and tires channel that power to the ground, in theory.

MAZDA

2003 Mazdaspeed Protege

2003 Mazdaspeed Protege

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Mazda put its power behind the 2003 1/2 Mazdaspeed Protégé at this year’s SEMA show. The hotted-up compact wears new front and rear skirts, a spoiler and exhaust tips. Underneath the hood is a Callaway-prepared 170-hp four-cylinder, mated to a five-speed manual and a limited-slip differential. The 17-inch Racing Harts get Bridgestone Potenza tires, and the 450-watt CD stereo has MP3 capability and is pre-wired for Sirius satellite radio reception. Just 2500 copies will be made for North America; pricing isn’t confirmed, but the Protégé gets a three-year/50,000 mile warranty.

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