Fifth Gear gets first thrash in Mugen CR-Z (+video)

July 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It was a few weeks back that we brought you news of Honda unveiling its latest concept car – the CR-Z Mugen at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

This hybrid-powered spiritual successor to the iconic CR-X sports coupe was built to make up for the shortcomings of the standard model with an injection of extra power and style from Mugen. This special CR-Z has retained the regular model’s mechanical hardware including the IMA electric motor and the 1.5-litre gasoline engine. But its internals have been upgraded and a supercharger introduced, there result is a power increase of more than 50% over the regular CR-Z.

Dynamic ability has also been improved by a widened track and a limited slip diff, there’s also 5-step adjustable dampers and larger stoppers. Continue reading “Fifth Gear gets first thrash in Mugen CR-Z (+video)” »

Honda Civic celebrates 39 years and 19 million vehicles (+video)

July 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Honda Civic has at some time been a part of most our lives, whether we owned one or rode shotgun with friends or family. We all have some sort of Civic story. Honda is preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its most famous model, next year, but before then it has released a video titled “Heritage” that looks back at this automotive icon.

The video features a soundtrack from British house music trio Dirty Vegas and provides a glimpse at the history of this model. Since it debuted in 1973 more than 19 million Civics have been sold, it’s no wonder everyone has a Honda Civic story.

Check out the video below. Continue reading “Honda Civic celebrates 39 years and 19 million vehicles (+video)” »

Honda Accord V6 2011 Review

June 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Since the late 1970s the Honda Accord has been a bit of an institution on New Zealand roads. We have seen various numbers and variations of all eight generations of the Accord with the fifth instalment even being assembled locally in Nelson. But things have changed for the Accord over the years; it got larger, more powerful and is no longer the cost-conscious option it once was. Honda also doubled down with the Accord and split the model line into the more American market focused Accord V6 and the smaller, sharply packaged Accord Euro. So where does that leave NZ’s long serving Honda? Well it’s in good shape, sure it’s become a higher-priced mid/large luxury cruiser but it’s got loads of kit, an intelligent powertrain and for 2011 – an enhancing facelift. Car and SUV got reacquainted with the 2011 Accord V6 VL Sport to see exactly how far this mainstay has come.

Visually, the Accord’s athletic design has received a modest refresh. Changes include a new thickly chromed grille, restyled front bumper and modernised headlights. At the rear the two-piece taillights are also new and there’s some fresh detailing around the boot. Design and packaging are strengths of the Accord V6, and in tested Sport form it is one handsome devil. The Sport upgrade includes deeper front, rear and side skirting which really brings out the Accord’s aggressive, sleek lines and renders it long and low. The chrome work around the window line and through the grille is just enough bling to draw the eye, but not enough to spoil the low-key aesthetic. Finishing the look is chrome-tipped twin exhaust outlets and new 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels shod in 225/50 rubber. Continue reading “Honda Accord V6 2011 Review” »

New-generation Honda Beat coming in 2013

June 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Theres been some rumours flying round that Honda was going to revive its diminutive Beat convertible and now according to reports the rumours could be true.

The Beat was originally produced for the Japanese domestic market in its kei class from 1991 to 1996. Only 33,600 Beats were produced in total with a few even making it here to NZ. The orignal Beat used a three-cylinder engine that produced just 47kW but with a kerb weight of 760kg, mid mounted engine and a rear-wheel drive format it was still a bit of fun.

Now it would appear that Honda are at working on a new Beat with the model expected to debut as early as 2013. It will be offered in a roadster form based on the CR-Z platform and feature styling based on Honda’s OSM concept car (pictured). Continue reading “New-generation Honda Beat coming in 2013” »

Honda’s CR-Z Mugen hits the open road (+video)

June 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Development of the Honda CR-Z Mugen concept has reached its conclusion and to celebrate Honda has released video footage of the supercharged hybrid model hitting the open road. The clip should send Honda fans into fever pitch before the models official launch at the upcoming 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK next month.

This special CR-Z was born in a joint development between Honda UK and its in-house tuning shop Mugen Euro. To get any real performance out of the car, extensive mods were done to the 1.5-liter i-VTEC petrol engine including the introduction of a supercharger. Honda’s hybrid IMA system was also tweaked. The exact result in terms of output remains a mystery but is rumoured to be around the 150kW mark. Mugen has also pulled out 50kg of excess weight and made changes to the suspension, brake system, aerodynamics and lightened its unsprung weight too.

“Performance figures already look promising for this supercharged Honda CR-Z, as early tests with a prototype car based on a standard CR-Z and a mid-tune engine giving 0-60mph times around that of the Civic Type R,” Honda said in a statement.

To see Honda’s CR-Z Mugen in action, check out the clip below. Continue reading “Honda’s CR-Z Mugen hits the open road (+video)” »

Mugen working on hot hatch Honda Jazz

May 27th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mugen and Honda are a tight unit, they go together like fish and chips or like rugby league players and off-field incidents. The latest project for this dynamic duo is to inject some performance pedigree into Honda’s new model Jazz which until now was only favoured by little old ladies.

The previous generation Honda Jazz had a Mugen version called the F154 SC. But this new model, to be built by Mugen Euro will use the same naturally aspirated 2.0-litre V-TEC engine that powers the Civic Type R. There is also talk of using the same supercharged hybrid 1.5 developed for the Mugen CR-Z.

With either powertrain the Mugen Jazz will produce around 150kW and in a car of this small size that could be a recipe for serious fun. Mugen will most likely upgrade other areas of the car with stiffer suspension, larger brakes and improved aerodynamics expected. Continue reading “Mugen working on hot hatch Honda Jazz” »

Honda drops images and details on its CR-Z Mugen

May 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Honda’s promising CR-X successor, the hybrid CR-Z could still be the excitement machine badge fans have been hoping for. Honda’s tuning arm Mugen is preparing to come to the rescue with a high performance version named the CR-Z Mugen and the first official photos of this hot hybrid hatch have been dropped.

Being prepared for a official debutl at the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed this July the hotter CR-Z looks suitably staunch but it’s the performance ability that Honda fans want to know about. While exact details haven’t been released, Honda has revealed that early tests with a prototype car based on a standard CR-Z and a mid-tuned engine has given a 0-100km/h sprint time matching that of the  European market Civic Type R at 6.6 seconds. But that wasn’t enough, and Mugen has pushed on by increasing output a further 15 percent and reducing the chassis’ weight by 50 kilograms, overall performance is now expected to be more rapid than the Type R’s.

That seems a fair result form the CR-Z’s supercharged 1.5-litre i-VTEC four and electric assist motor. The CR-Z Mugen will also get tweaks like upgraded brakes and suspension, a carbon fibre bonnet and forged alloy wheels. For styling, there is a new body kit with a high rear wing and diffuser to improve dynamics. Continue reading “Honda drops images and details on its CR-Z Mugen” »

Honda restarts next-gen NSX development

April 26th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Good news for fans of Honda’s long-dead NSX supercar with fresh reports that the model line is on the way back from oblivion.

At the recent Shanghai Auto Show the Japanese automaker revealed plans for the development of a new hardcore sports car that will become spiritual successor to the iconic NSX.

Honda Motor Company president, Takanobu Ito brought the big news and said the new car won’t feature the stonking V10 engine that had been planned for the next NSX, as the company scrapped this project back in 2008. But Ito did promise that the future NSX would be “exhilarating to drive and also environmentally friendly”. With those words in mind,  it’s likely the car will use an electric motor to boost power for a conventional gasoline engine, much like the CR-Z sport hybrid. But unlike the limp CR-Z, the NSX successor will be positioned as a full-blood high-performance hybrid vehicle.

The initial plans for an NSX successor were cancelled by former Honda president Takeo Fukui, who told fans it was a cost-saving measure. Before the project was shelved the new car was expected to have a front-mounted V10 engine pumping out at least 500 ponies. It was this drivetrain, in concept form, that was later used by the Honda HSV-010 GT racecar. Continue reading “Honda restarts next-gen NSX development” »