Jamie Lee Curtis has a moment of Honda Clarity

August 21st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

honda-fcx-clarity-jamie-lee-curtis

The first Honda FCX Clarity customers have taken delivery of their zero emission cars in California. Up to 200 customers will begin leasing the fuel cell vehicles in the United States and Japan over the next three years.

Film director Ron Yerxa was the first customer to get the keys to an FCX Clarity, followed by actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband, Christopher Guest.

“I really wasn’t expecting it to be so luxurious,” said Curtis. “I love the interior layout, design and access to controls. It is user friendly and very modern.”

The FCX Clarity is Honda’s next generation, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle. Driven by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated by a fuel cell, the car’s only emissions are heat and water. Its fuel efficiency is three times that of a modern petrol engine.

New Honda Jazz release scheduled for late 2008

July 30th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

honda-jazz-fq

Honda will follow-up one of the most successful models in supermini history when its all-new Jazz goes on sale this Spring.

By enhancing its strongest qualities, Honda engineers have taken the innovative design and versatility of the current Jazz to the next stage. Greater flexibility, more interior space and lively, but economical engines raise the bar even further in a class that’s struggled to match the Jazz for customer satisfaction and reliability.

And the famous Honda Magic Seats are back — but now they dive down in one action, making carrying large loads even easier. Their versatility is equalled by a new Double-Trunk boot feature in the luggage bay that can be configured in four ways to accommodate different-sized loads. Total luggage space in 1.4 models (with Double Trunk) now measures 399 litres (VDA) — greater than some MPVs and bettering all in the B-sector.

Two new, low emission petrol engines are designed to appeal to customers who might be downsizing, as well as those looking to achieve fuel economy comparable to diesel models. Adopting Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve timing technology, the 90PS 1.2-litre and 100PS 1.4-litre engines deliver lively performance with exceptional economy.

The 1.2-litre engine achieves an exceptional 5.1L/100km (combined), while CO2 emissions are also improved, at 120g/km. It’s a similar story with the new 1.4-litre engine. Compared to the previous i-DSI unit which produced 83 PS and 119Nm, power is up to 100PS and torque is 127Nm with fuel economy from 5.2L/100km (combined) for the manual model. CO2 exhaust emissions are as low as 123g/km.

There’s also the option of Honda’s next-generation 6-speed i-SHIFT automated manual transmission on the 1.4-litre engine — a first in this class. The unit is a development of the system first fitted to the Civic, with improvements made including; reduced gear change times, smoother shifts and more intelligent automatic mode shift logic.

The new SIL (Shift Indicator Light) fitted to manual models, similar to that found on the new Accord, provides a visual prompt of the best gear shift points to maximise economy.

Ride comfort has been much improved through a number of suspension revisions, which contribute to the ‘big car feel’ of the new Jazz. Meanwhile, a longer wheelbase (by 50mm) and wider front track (by 35mm) give the car greater agility. Honda’s stability assist, VSA, is now available across the range.

Stopping ability has been increased with larger brake front callipers, and the brake pedal has been tweaked to improve feel. Front ventilated discs and rear discs are matched with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist.

The overall height of Jazz remains the same (1,525mm) but the length of the car has increased slightly by 55mm (to 3,900mm) and it is also slightly wider, by 20mm (to 1,695mm).

Getting in and out is now much easier, thanks to wider-opening rear doors which open in three steps — just like their front counterparts — for added convenience in tight parking spots.

Once inside, the cabin is now even more spacious for driver and passengers, with greater headroom and an improved driving position.

The slightly increased exterior length and width have helped improve passenger space, as has the ‘pushing forward’ of the windscreen. Rear seat passengers now have 37mm greater kneeroom, while the distance between front and rear passengers is up by 30mm. The slightly wider body also means shoulder room increases by 44mm in the front and 43mm in the rear.

Visibility gets a considerable boost, too. Reduced width A-pillars, a larger windscreen and quarter windows three times the size of those in the previous model make for more relaxed driving, while retractable rear headrests ensure the view out of the rear window is now totally unobscured.

Increasing the feeling of spaciousness and freedom, EX models are equipped with a panorama roof that extends over the rear seats for an expansive sky view. Heat absorbing glass and a power sun shade ensure a comfortable cabin environment.

Elsewhere, high quality materials, stylish design and tasteful colours give the cabin an upmarket feel. More comfortable front seats have been fitted, along with a height adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that’s adjustable for reach and rake on 1.4 models.

A single CD/radio is integrated into the fascia, offering MP3/WMA playback and speed-dependent volume adjustment. In 1.4 EX models, a USB adapter is located in the centre console storage box, which enables fifth generation iPods and a variety of other portable music devices to be played via the Jazz’s audio system.

The new Jazz benefits from Honda’s ACE body structure, a concept that is being progressively rolled out across the Honda range. In particular a front polygonal main frame helps to prevent misalignment between vehicles of different sizes and construction and multiple energy absorbing pathways disperse impact energy to prevent cabin deformation.

Dual front and side airbags are standard on all models, as are full length side curtain airbags and three-point seatbelts in all five seating positions (those in the front have dual-stage pretensioners). The front passenger airbag can also be deactivated to allow a rear facing child seat to be fitted to the front seat and for the first time Jazz is equipped with seatbelt reminders for both the front and rear seats. Front seats are also fitted with active headrests to minimise the potential for whiplash injuries.

Honda Accord VS V6 Mugen 2008 Review

July 27th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

honda-accord-vs-v6-mugen-fq

If, like me, you purchased your first car in the early or mid-1990s then there’s a good chance you will have lusted over the Japanese rockets that started coming into New Zealand cheap at around that time. Mazda Familia GTR and RX-7, Nissan Skyline and Silvia, Subaru Impreza and Legacy, and Mitsubishi Evo satisfied the rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive market.

If you were a fan of front-wheel drive and VTEC, though, it was the Integra Type R, the CRX and the Civic Type R that would have caught your attention. Many of these arrived in New Zealand with a Mugen sticker somewhere on the flank, or hidden on a piece of body kit.

What we have here is the grownup’s version of those iconic cars. With an ostentatious body kit — some of it is carbon fibre — this Accord V6 Mugen allows people of my generation who now hold corporate jobs to have a sensible, businesslike car while recapturing some of that mid-90s, ‘clear taillight’ flavour.

It sports 18-inch wheels, but going up an inch in size would fill the arches better because the body kit gives the car a very inflated presence near the ground, with its sculpted lip and angular rear skirt that houses the quad tailpipes.

A car like this shouldn’t be all show and no go, so there’s a 3.5-litre i-VTEC V6 engine on tap. Does the i-VTEC scream like a real VTEC should? Those expecting a VTEC howl and the ability to wrap it around to an 8000rpm redline will be disappointed — the Accord tops out at around 6800rpm, and judicious use of your right foot liberates a smooth V6 roar.

The engine has variable cylinder management and there’s a small green Eco notification in the instrumentation cluster to encourage you to use it by reminding you when you’re being a lead foot. For moderate cruising, deceleration and low engine loads just three cylinders operate, giving an effective engine capacity of 1.75l. Under mild-to-moderate acceleration, and mild gradients four of the cylinders work (two from each bank.) Only when you bury the throttle pedal into the carpet and require the all of the urge of the engine will it fire up the other two cylinders.

What this means is a fuel consumption figure more like that of a 2.4-litre four cylinder (like, for example, Honda’s CRV). At just 10l/100km, it saves approximately 17 per cent over the previous version.

The auto gearbox has a sport mode with paddles behind the steering wheel. 202kW and 339Nm is released from the six cylinders and sweeps you towards 100kph in an almost seamless seven-second surge of acceleration. Using the paddle shifters the enthusiastic driver can ensure the Accord is in the correct gear for exiting a corner, even while in D-mode. Move the gear lever to S-mode and it’s the paddles all the way.

Gear Logic is always assessing the conditions and attempts to match gears to the requirements of gradient, cornering and acceleration — for example, it will hold a lower gear while coasting downhill, and will attempt to anticipate when you need acceleration out of a corner. While this type of system will never be absolutely perfect, it’s better than nothing at all, and with the backup of the paddles, it makes for a more dynamic drive.

However, what slightly spoils the drive is the steering feel. The steering is so light it actually makes driving on rough roads harder — it means you have to have more control over your arms because slight bumps on the road can inadvertently cause you to steer. It is so light that it feels like the tyres have three times too much pressure in them and that you’re driving on wet grass.

Inside the Accord is comfortable, but this base model has velour seat fabric — best get the next model up as I would imagine that come trade-in time that the leather would be more desirable.

As well as the less-than-desirable fabric, there are no reversing sensors, but the rest of the interior is more than adequate. There’s a sizeable glovebox, a large central binnacle with removable tray, and other places to store items. Instrumentation is easy to read, and there’s a large screen in the centre of the dash that displays additional setup parameters and functions (though not that many additional functions). It’s a long car and that means lots of legroom for rear seat passengers.

All passengers can be immersed in music assisted by the subwoofer that gives a nice kick to the beat (in case you want to relive some of those ‘techno’ moments).

The boot floor isn’t flat — it tapers away in a channel towards the lockable ski hatch — stuff rolls down here and it’s the furthest away from the boot aperture. Short people would find it hard to reach far enough in without actually climbing into the boot.

It’s an executive sports car that’s missing some important features. There are some significant omissions in the spec department in VS trim therefore I would expect most purchasers would plump for the leather seats, xenon headlights and rain-sensing wipers that come with the VL and VN models for $57,000 or $60,000 respectively.

It’s the technology that’s more impressive, though, and perhaps that’s worth the money. With 15 years of automotive experience since my first hot Japanese car (a Subaru Legacy RS-RA), I can now look back with fond memories while I look to the future and all the engine technology that will gradually filter down to other models, with Honda leading the way.

Price: from $52,500

What we like

  • Nice engine tone
    Smooth and sleek

What we don’t like

  • Steering is far too light
  • Missing critical pieces of kit for a car at this price point (trip computer, leather seats), so with all that hidden engine technology, it’s could be perceived as a bit pricey

Honda Accord VS V6 Mugen Specifications

Engine 3.5-litre 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC VCM
Maximum Power 202kW @ 6200rpm
Maximum Torque 340Nm @ 5000rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic transmission with Gear Logic Control
Front Suspension Double wishbone with stabiliser bar
Rear Suspension Multi-link with stabiliser bar
Wheels 17″ x 7.5″ 7-spoke alloy wheels
(For VS, VS Sport, VL, VL Sport, VN and VN Sport)

18″ x 7.0″ 7-spoke alloy wheels
(For VS Mugen, VL Mugen and VN Mugen)

Full size spare alloy wheel under floor.

Tyres 225/50 R17 (for 17″)
225/45 R18 (for 18″)
Vehicle Stability System Electronic Stability Control (VSA) incorporating Traction Control
Braking System ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution)
Front-ventilated discs 300mm. Rear solid discs 282mm
Overall Length (mm) 4945
Overall Width (mm) 1845
Overall Height (mm) 1475
Wheelbase (mm) 2800
Track – Front/Rear (mm) 1580/1580
Ground Clearance (mm) 146
Front head room (mm – 991 with sunroof) 1051
Front leg room (mm) 1079
Front shoulder room (mm) 1479
Front hip room (mm) 1438
Rear head room (mm) 978
Rear leg room (mm) 944
Rear shoulder room (mm) 1432
Rear hip room (mm) 1379
Interior width (mm) 1542
Kerb Weight
(kg-VS/VL and VN)
1615/1650
Seating Capacity 5
Boot Capacity (VDA litres) 450
Turning Circle (metres) 11.5
Maximum warrantable towing weight (kg) 1500
Tank Capacity (litres) 70 litre
Recommended Fuel 91 Octane fuel
Emissions Control LEV II (Low Emission Vehicle) emissions control and Euro IV international standards
ADR 81/01 Combined Consumption 10.0 L/100kms
Optimal NZ drive test Auckland-Taupo-Auckland 7.5 L/100kms
Fuel Saver Infomation
Make and Model: Honda Accord V6 / V6L / V6LN
Star Rating: 3½ stars out of 6

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Honda OSM concept revealed in the U.K

July 23rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

honda-fq

Honda’s low-emission sportscar study model has been revealed at the British International Motor Show, at ExCeL, London.

The lightweight roadster design study displays one of Honda’s core engineering principles — to design stylish and exciting cars that are also environmentally responsible.

Named the OSM (for Open Study Model), the two-seater joins the confirmed-for-production CR-Z sports hybrid and FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car on the Honda stand at the show.

“We’re trying to show that low emission cars can be attractive,” says Andreas Sittel, Project Leader for OSM. “There is no reason why a car that’s more environmentally friendly can’t look great too — and be sporty and fun to drive.”

The concept for the project was ‘Clean and Dynamic’ — and this direction was followed for both the exterior and interior design, ensuring a joined-up, consistent ‘language’ between the two. One example of this can be seen at the rear of the car, where the body actually extends into the cabin between the seats.

The exterior design is a balance of smooth, rounded curves and sharp lines to provide definition in key areas. The headlights are cleverly integrated into the front end, stretching from the nose to the top of the wheel arches to look more like a part of the original body.

Inside, this uninterrupted, fluid approach is continued, with long sweeping curves extending from both door panels to form a frame for the instrument display. The concept for the dashboard was to avoid creating the traditional block of ‘heavy’ colour and material in front of the driver; in keeping with the clean and lightweight theme. For that reason, the dash is broken into sections, with the most important instruments in direct line-of-sight of the driver.

Key information is displayed in a rounded, enclosed central binnacle, with levels and figures in bright blue on a black background. This matches the trim inside the car, with the seats and door furniture trimmed in a new, gloss-effect blue leather, accompanied by white leather sections, in line with the exterior body colour, a one-off paint called Mystic Pearl.

The driver’s main controls and functions are distributed in an intuitive layout, close at hand on a panel that curves downwards to the right of the driver. A centrally-mounted semi-sequential gear-shift points towards a fun-to-drive transmission, along with paddle shifts either side of the steering wheel. Integrated into the gearshifter itself is a red ignition ‘start’ button, which reinforces the sporty direction of the car.

The Honda OSM was designed by Honda’s R&D facility in Offenbach, Germany. It’s the latest example of the young talent being developed within Honda’s design studios in Europe — following the Honda Small Hybrid Sports Concept (Geneva 2007) and the Accord Tourer Concept (Frankfurt 2007).

At present, the Honda OSM is a design study model, and there are no plans for it to enter production.

1972                The CVCC engine is developed for the Civic — a low-emission petrol engine that meets strict US regulations

1993                Honda wins prestigious World Solar Challenge with the solar-powered Type Dream car

1996                Honda EV Plus electric vehicle — capable of carrying four adults nearly 140miles on a single charge — is presented to the public

1997                We unveil the Civic GX, which runs on natural gas and is available to buy in America. It becomes the world’s cleanest car

1999                Honda launches the Insight — a petrol-electric hybrid car capable of 83mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions of just 80g/km of CO2

2003                Civic IMA hybrid saloon is launched, with CO2 emissions of 116g/km

2006                New Civic Hybrid goes on sale, with fuel economy of 61.4mpg (combined) and emissions of 109g/km

2007                A lightweight hybrid sportscar concept, named CR-Z, is revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show, and a version is confirmed for production

2008                Honda unveils OSM study model at the British International Motor Show.
The hydrogen fuel cell-powered Honda FCX Clarity rolls off the production line in Japan, and leasing of these zero emission vehicles starts in the US

2009                A much more affordable hybrid car from Honda is due to go on sale in the UK in the Spring — making cleaner motoring technology available to more people

Honda CRV Sport 2008 Review

July 15th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Honda CRV Sport fq

There’s a prevalence of cars with ‘sport’ in their name. While our adult population engages in less and less sport, at least we can have a car that makes us look like we appreciate it (and we can ferry our offspring to their sports in the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality.)

So is this Honda CRV Sport really a sporty option? CRV has been stated by Honda in various global markets to mean ‘Compact Recreational Vehicle’ and ‘Comfortable Runabout Vehicle’. You could easily apply both of those without batting an eyelid, but Sport?

To me, a sport specification should be figure-hugging seats, stiffer suspension and more power. But in the CRV you get a sunroof, comfortable leather seats with fold-down armrests and 8-way electronic adjustment, rain-sensing wipers and xenon headlamps — hardly sporting options. In fact, it’s the same five-speed automatic gearbox, 2.4-litre 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC engine, 125kW, 218Nm, wheels, suspension, brakes and steering as the other CRV models. The Sport doesn’t even get the manual gearbox that the CRV and CRV Plus get! Taking liberties with naming, I think!

It does have enough pep to overtake in sensible places on the highway. The ride is compliant, and grip is excellent from the four-wheel drive system. As you would expect, it comes with a range of driver aids including vehicle stability assist (VSA), ABS, emergency brake assist and electronic brake force distribution.

Visibility forwards is excellent as the CRV sits higher than a car; visibility on the rear quarters is blocked a bit, but the mirrors are large and reversing sensors warn you of obstacles.

Honda’s instrumentation layout is clear and easy to read. Between the rev counter and speedometer is a large LCD that shows instantaneous fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, distance to empty and the number of kilometres travelled — more useful than other cars that make you scroll through screens to see this information.

Having the instantaneous fuel consumption there encourages you to limit use of your right foot. I managed to keep the CRV’s fuel consumption at just below 10l/100km range during my time with it, which matches the quoted ADR figure.

The boot has an interesting shelf that splits it in two and is useful for storing lighter items on while keeping heavy items separate in the lower half of the boot area. Because the rear seats also recline and slide forwards and backwards, the boot blind accommodates this by clipping to the headrests. The sliding seats move far enough forwards to liberate a significant amount of extra boot space if the rear seats aren’t needed.

This abundance of storage is mirrored in the front, with a central binnacle capable of holding over 20 CDs — good for the entertainment, which comes courtesy of a six-CD in-dash player, reasonably proficient speakers, and an auxiliary in for an MP3 player. An iPod input is an option. Audio controls and the cruise control are integrated into the steering wheel, which is one of the weak points in the car — it’s far too thin.

I also can’t quite understand why, when Honda has done such a great job on the leather seats, that the dashboard plastics have been totally overlooked.  They’re hard and feel a bit cheap.

Honda’s advertising campaign for the CRV says that evolution didn’t spend hundreds of millions of years perfecting the square. I wonder whether the new CRV is a bit too curvy. The CRV isn’t particularly ugly, but it does have an unusually curved rear three-quarter window that doesn’t follow the roof line, and I found it difficult to take any more than a few photos before I’d exhausted the interesting bits. I think I like the previous version’s looks (the facelifted generation-two) a bit more.

Dynamically, it’s not a sports car, but it is a family-friendly vehicle with a dash of versatility; a car that is at home ferrying dirty children back from soccer practise as it is going shopping, threading through city streets, or going on a long journey. Sensible fuel economy, ample space and good visibility will endear it to many.

Price: from $43,500

What we like

  • Easy to drive
  • Comfortable
  • Practical

What we don’t like

  • Dashboard plastics are very hard
  • Steering wheel is too thin

Specifications

PERFORMANCE

On Demand Real Timeâ„¢ 4WD system

2.4 litre, 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC engine with power of 125kW @ 5800rpm and torque of 218Nm @ 4200rpm

i-VTEC (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift, Electronic Control) performance and economy enhancing technology

Drive-by-Wire (DBW) electronic throttle control

Emissions fall within LEV II and Euro 4 international standards

91-octane fuel. 58 litre tank capacity

5-speed automatic transmission with Gear Logic Control

296mm front ventilated brake discs and 305mm rear solid brake discs

MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link double-wishbone rear suspension with front and rear stabiliser bars

17″ alloy wheels, 17 x 6.5JJ with 225/65 R17 tyres. Full size alloy spare wheel underfloor Speed-sensitive hydraulic power-assisted rack and pinion steering

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Driver and passenger front Dual stage i-SRS airbags, side front airbags with passenger side OPDS and full length side-curtain airbags

Active headrests for front seats, height adjustable headrests for all five seating positions Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution)

Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) collision compatibility body design with G-force Control (G-Con)

Side intrusion beams and impact absorbing bumpers

3-point ELR seatbelts (front & rear). Pretensioners, load limiters and height adjustable anchor points for front seatbelts

ISOFIX child seat attachment points (2), child seat tether points (3) and Automatic Locking Reel (ALR) seatbelts (3)

Child-proof rear door locks

Engine immobiliser, security alarm and remote central locking on all doors with visual answer back. Interior master door lock switch

Exterior

Body colour bumpers and door handles, with black mud guards

Power adjustable and retractable body coloured heated door mirrors with integrated side turn indicator

Rear lifting tailgate with window wiper (intermittent with reverse gear synchronisation)

Privacy glass for rear side, quarter and back windows

Variable intermittent windscreen wipers with automatic rain sensor

Xenon High Intensity Discharge headlights (HID) for low beam, halogen high beam, auto on/off

Front fog lamps

Four sensor reversing proximity warning system

COMFORT

Leather trimmed tilt and reach adjustable 3-spoke steering wheel, leather trimmed gear shift lever

8-way electric seat adjustment with power lumbar support (driver) and 4-way manual seat adjustment (passenger), ergonomically designed, 2-stage heating

Independent digital climate controlled air conditioning for driver and front seat passenger Cruise control, with controls integrated into the steering wheel and illuminated

Electric glass sunroof with tilt /slide function and integrated sliding shade, with one-touch open/close function and anti-trap sensor

Front and rear seat folding armrests

Centre console with twin cupholder, storage compartments and storage for 24 CDs

INTERIOR

Power windows with driver’s auto up/down and anti-trap, driver’s door mounted central locking and rear window lock/unlock switches

Leather upholstery with metal-effect trim

Driver and passenger vanity mirrors, front map reading light, ambient interior light, glove box light and accessory 12 volt sockets (3)

Rear seat with 40:20:40 upper split, 60:40 lower split and long object pass-through, sliding and folding

Spring dampened handgrabs, one with fold down coathook in rear

Sunglass storage box with ‘conversation’ mirror in front headlining

Multi-information Trip Computer with outside temperature display and fuel usage information

‘Double Deck’ rear cargo organiser and Tonneau Cover

AUDIO

Integrated in-dash 30W x 4 stereo tuner with 6 disc CD changer and 6 speakers, MP3/WMA compatible and speed sensitive volume adjustment (SVC)

Auxiliary audio input jack in centre console (suitable for a portable music player)

Remote audio system controls integrated into the steering wheel and illuminated

Every new Honda comes with a body and mechanical warranty and 24 hr road-side assistance.

DIMENSIONS & Clearances

Length (mm) 4519

Width (mm, inc. door mirrors) 1820

Height (mm) 1679

Wheelbase (mm) 2620

Track — Front /Rear (mm) 1565/1565

Weights (kg) (Plus models add 14kg): manual 1557

Ground clearance — unladen (mm) 185

Ground clearance — fully laden (mm) 140

Approach angle (degrees) 28.0

Departure angle (degrees) 23.2

Ramp-over angle (degrees) 18.0

Auto / Sport Auto 1587 / 1617

Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock 2.96

Turning circle (metres) 11.0

Luggage capacity to window line — rear seats up (litres) 443

Luggage capacity to roof line — rear seats folded (litres) 2064

Towing capacity — maximum warrantable (kg) 1500

Words and photos Darren Cottingham


Honda Civic 2.0S Sport 2008 Review

July 11th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Honda Civic 2-0S Sport fq

The Honda Civic came into being during the fuel crisis of the early 1970s. It was a small, frugal car that enjoyed instant success in many countries around the world including the US and Australia. Over time though, the Civic has come to be viewed as a bit of a ‘Nanna’s’ car.

With the new Civic it seems Honda is diverging away from the bland vanilla flavour of the previous Civic styling and trying to attract a younger audience. Sure there were some hot Type-R versions of the older models that were bought by young people, but the fact that the base models were such a great combination of comfort, efficiency, driveability and reliability meant that the Civic was really only appreciated by the blue rinse set.

The car we drove was the new Honda Civic Sport 2.0S which came with leather, paddle shift auto (SportShift) and optional Bluetooth connectivity.

The new Civic looks very fresh and futuristic. The sharper styling is definitely a leap forward from the previous shape being more distinctive and recognisable. The front and rear ends look great and appeal to a much wider audience.

The waistline seems high from the outside but once inside there is plenty of light in the cabin and it feels very airy and bright but also very safe. Interestingly the A pillar is very large and incorporates a small, non-opening window; something Nanna might recognise from the 60s – 70s as a ‘quarter vent’.

Visibility all round is very good except that the sloping bonnet and high dash conspire to limit frontal vision which makes it very difficult to judge where the front of the car is when parking.

The leather seats are very comfortable and have decent support which coupled with the adjustable steering wheel creates a good driving position. The steering wheel itself is beautifully crafted, well-sized, very comfortable and strangely ergonomic while not looking like a chewed dog’s toy. In fact the wheel is reminiscent of the elegant older ‘spoke and rim’ designs used in early Hondas .

The dash is very different from anything else on the market with a central analogue tacho taking the traditional place of the speedo which on the Civic is digital and set up and back from the other instruments. Honda’s goal in this design seems to have been to incorporate the speedo in the line of sight of the driver so he or she wouldn’t need to look down and away from the road. Maybe it’s just me, but having the speedo close to the bottom of the screen made me ignore it, rather than notice it as part of what is happening on the road.

The major controls are easy to use and feel like decent quality items, as do the heating and stereo controls.

While the styling might be quite different compared to older models, the driving experience hasn’t changed all that much. The 2.0 litre i-VTEC engine revs cleanly, produces a decent amount of power and sounds sporty in the upper rev range.

The paddle shift 5-speed auto is smooth but shift times are not ‘Ferrari-fast’. In auto mode the transmission is intuitive enough and selects the right gear in almost every circumstance.

The firm suspension is smooth enough for bumpy roads but taut and well connected to what is happening at the road which gives you confidence that the car will respond cleanly to your inputs.

The longer wheel-base of the new Civic does make for a more comfortable ride and better interior space, but has also pushed the once small Civic more toward a mid-size state. Room in the boot is more than you would expect being quite tall and deep, a definite bonus in a small-mid car like the Civic.

The only annoyance in our car was a distracting noise emanating from the driver’s side air vent on the highway and was something that I couldn’t trace the origin of, and something that the dealer would likely fix if in warranty

The interior is probably the high point for us being very comfortable, airy and generally a very nice place to be. The driving experience is not all that inspiring but is more than competent on the suburban roads that most Civics will probably end up on.

All in all the Honda Civic Sport 2.0S is a nice car that looks a lot better than previous models and will definitely appeal to young and old alike.

Price: from $36,000. The test car was fitted with the optional $450 Bluetooth phone kit

What we like

  • Spacious, airy, comfortable interior
  • Good rear and side visibility
  • Futuristic dash
  • Great styling

What we don’t like

  • Limited front visibility for parking
1.8 litre, 16 valve SOHC i-VTEC engine 2.0 litre, 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC engine
Maximum Power (kW@rpm) 103 @ 6300 114 @ 6200
Maximum Torque (Nm@rpm) 174 @ 4300 188 @ 4200
5-speed manual transmission
5-speed automatic transmission with Gear Logic, Sport mode and +/- paddle operated SportShift.
1.8 litre, 16 valve SOHC i-VTEC engine 2.0 litre, 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC engine
Suspension system MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link Double Wishbone rear suspension with front and rear stabiliser bars MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link Double Wishbone rear suspension with front and rear stabiliser bars
Steering turns to lock (revolutions) 2.7 2.7
Turning circle (metres) 10.6 10.8
Front brakes 282mm ventilated discs 282mm ventilated discs
Rear brakes 260mm solid discs 260mm solid discs
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and EBA (Emergency Brake Assist)
Wheel size 16 x 6.5JJ 16 x 6.5JJ
Tyre size 205/55 R16 205/55 R16
Compact spare wheel
Wheels 16″ 5-spoke
Alloy wheels
16″ 10-spoke
Alloy wheels
1.8 litre, 16 valve SOHC i-VTEC engine 2.0 litre, 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC engine
Length (mm) 4540 4540
Width (mm) 1750 1750
Height (mm) 1435 1435
Wheel base (mm) 2700 2700
Track front/rear (mm) 1500/1520 1500/1520
Luggage capacity (litres, VDA) 450 450
Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock 2.7 2.7
Turning circle (metres) 10.6 10.8
Weight (kg) 1194 (Man)
1221 (Auto)
1204 (Sport Man)
1231 (Sport Auto)
1241 (Auto)
1251 (Sport Auto)
Maximum warrantable towing weight (kg) 1200 (Man)
1000 (Auto)
1000
1.8 litre, 16 valve SOHC i-VTEC engine 2.0 litre, 16 valve DOHC i-VTEC engine
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 50 50
Recommended fuel 91-octane regular unleaded 91-octane regular unleaded
ADR Combined Consumption 6.9L/100km Manual
7.2L/100km Auto
8.0L/100km Auto
Optimal NZ Drive Test 5.2L/100km Manual
5.64L/100km Auto
6.1L/100km Auto
EnergyWise Rally ’06 6.23L/100km Manual
6.06L/100km Auto
6.72L/100km Auto
Fuel Saver Infomation
Make and Model: Honda Civic 1.8 Sedan Manual
Star Rating: 4½ stars out of 6
Yearly Cost : $1,790
Mileage : 6.9 Litres per 100 km Reference: 3600
Note: 2008(a) cost per year based on price per litre of petrol $1.85 and an average distance of 14000 km
Make and Model: Honda Civic 1.8 Sedan Auto
Star Rating: 4½ stars out of 6
Yearly Cost : $1,860
Mileage : 7.2 Litres per 100 km Reference: 3601
Note: 2008(a) cost per year based on price per litre of petrol $1.85 and an average distance of 14000 km
Make and Model: Honda Civic 2.0 Sedan Auto
Star Rating: 4 stars out of 6
Yearly Cost : $2,070
Mileage : 8.0 Litres per 100 km Reference: 3602
Note: 2008(a) cost per year based on price per litre of petrol $1.85 and an average distance of 14000 km

Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham

Honda Jazz Sport 1.5 VTEC 2007 Review

September 26th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Honda Jazz Sport VTEC 2007 fq

It’s been 5 years since Honda launched the Jazz and it’s remained pretty much at the top of its class, especially in terms of load space and versatility, but with a new model around the corner we thought we should take a last look at the Jazz. We roadtested a Jazz Sport in Blaze Orange.

Blaze Orange is a colour that you don’t lose in a car park. It’s instantly recognisable amongst the whites, silvers, reds and blues of the car world, like Ford’s range of colours on its Falcon. The Jazz Sport is a pumped-up version of the 1.3-litre Jazz and comes with side skirts, sports exhaust tip, mesh lower grille, roof spoiler and front fog lamps and reversing sensors in the bumper. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 185/55 profile tyres set the car off, concealing ventilated disc brakes up front.

It’s the Jazz’s ability to swallow up luggage that belies its dimensions — only 3.85m long and 1.68m wide. The Jazz extends its corners as far as possible without looking like a box, and you’ll appreciate the height that gives a respectable 380 litres of luggage space even with the rear seats up. Fold them forward and the flat floor gives you 1321 litres.

A seven-speed gearbox is something you wouldn’t expect to find in a car in this class, and with all those ratios matched to CVT there’s barely any break in the acceleration. Use the button on the steering wheel to change it to sequential manual, and you can play with the gears using the paddles just behind the steering wheel. The 81kW from the 1.5-litre VTEC engine isn’t brisk (even when highly revved), but is usable enough around town. The Jazz also feels the most accomplished in its class when travelling at motorway speeds, its slightly firmer suspension giving more precise handling and better feel of the road. A Macpherson strut up front and trailing arm with torsion beam, both with anti-roll bars, coupled with a low kerb weight of 1065kg means hurling the Jazz into the corners is fun and reliably consistent.

You sit fairly upright and high up in the Jazz, though it is possible to adjust the seat to a more laid back position. Good visibility all around is like sitting in an MPV and it is complemented by tiny turning circle making manoeuvring simple. An attractive and well-planned cabin features large buttons and dials for the stereo and air conditioning. Stereo controls are duplicated on the leather steering wheel for the in-dash single-CD player. A convenient under-dash parcel shelf is welcome cabin storage.

The Jazz achieved 5.59l/100km in the EnergyWise Rally in 2006, and its quoted fuel consumption on the combined rate is 6.1l/100km. It has a LEV II low emission vehicle rating.

The usual trio of ABS, EBD (electronic brake distribution) and EBA (emergency brake assist) are present, along with driver and passenger front and side airbags, and seatbelt pretensioners.

The Jazz has won plenty of accolades and its easy to see why. It would be an easy car to live with, and one that even after five successful years on the market is still showing the way.

Price: from $24,600

What we like

  • All that space
  • Handling
  • Fuel economy

What we don’t like

  • Showing its age

Words and photos Darren Cottingham