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’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.
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
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
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
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
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.
2003 Mazdaspeed Protege
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.
Over at Nissan, the company’s new 350Z is proving fertile ground for developers to ply their power tools — just as the Sentra has done for years. Nissan’s own performance operation, NISMO, got into the act on both vehicles and just about every other Nissan car and truck, too.
2002 Nissan NISMO 350Z concept
NISMO is Nissan’s own in-house aftermarket operation, and it plans to start hawking its wares in a more organized way next year for both Nissan and Infiniti production vehicles as well as racecars and race trucks. Its pair of NISMO 350Z concepts
offered a mix of those in-house parts and pieces. A new exhaust nets the coupes more horsepower and torque — it’s 295 hp/280 lb-ft in this application — and a limited-slip differential helps keep the power distributed efficiently. Tighter suspension components beneath are given away by the fanciful paint and nifty body mods, including NISMO LM GT-4 wheels and a new aero body kit.
2002 Nissan Axis Sport Tuning 350Z concept
Another 350Z for the tuner crowd is the Axis Sport Tuning
sports job. A new JIC stainless steel exhaust matches up with the existing 3.5-liter V-6, while HKS springs and shocks beef up the suspension. Brembo 14-inch brake rotors have yellow calipers, and the Axis S7 three-piece wheels sport Yoko tires.
2002 Nissan Stillen Altima concept
Steve Millen’s idea of a family sedan takes root as the Stillen Altima
. A new exhaust system for the four-door ends in stainless-steel tips; while the Eibach Pro Series kit lowers the suspension. New body flair includes rocker panels and a chin spoiler, while the tires are centered on Forte’ Cyber wheels.
2002 Nissan SE-R Spec V Speed Channel World Challenge Race Car concept
Nissan inspired the less heavily funded enthusiasts with the SE-R Spec V Speed Channel World Challenge Race Car
, a snappy SE-R with a 258-hp engine made by Sunbelt Racing Engines. A six-speed tranny mates up the monster powerplant, and a helical limited-slip diff makes the two work better together. NISMO wheels (including the one sticking out of the dash) and engine bits round out the package.
Even plucky but tiny Suzuki got into this year’s SEMA shenanigans with the Suzuki/MA Audio Aerio SX Sport concept car. MA Audio did up the magnificently absurd audio system, which stuffs a multi-format disc player and twin 12-inch DVC subwoofers into the cozy compact. A rearview mirror monitor and a seven-inch TFT monitor also figure into the audiovisual fireworks. Massive-looking 18-inch wheels and 35-series Falken tires roll underneath the sporty hatchback, which in unmodified form is new for the ’03 model year.