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” »

Updated 2011 Honda Accord Euro goes on sale in NZ

April 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The 2011 Accord Euro has gone on sale in NZ with upgraded styling and is set to continue its run as a highly regarded model in the mid size sedan segment.

Since its original addition to Honda New Zealand’s model line-up in 2003, the Accord Euro has scored points for its premium performance.

The 2011 updates include fresh new styling to the front bumper and grille, headlights, detailing on the boot lid and rear lights, along with new wheel designs.

The 2.4-litre i-VTEC petrol engine continues with a 148kW power rating and peak torque of 234Nm at 4,400 rpm matched to a 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic transmission, depending on the model. The 5-speed automatic transmission has a straight ‘P R N D S’ gate with steering wheel mounted shift paddles for self-shifting.

Fuel economy is rated at 8.9 L/100km for both the manual and automatic sedan, whilst the Tourer’s is 9.1 L/100km. In Honda’s local real-world driving Optimal NZ Drive Test, the Euro sedan achieved a figure of 6.49 L/100km and 6.53 L/100km for the manual and automatic respectively, whilst the Tourer got down to  6.36L/100km. Both variants also performed well at the recently held AA Energywise Rally with the Sedan achieving 7.54L/100km and the Tourer 7.50L/100km. Continue reading “Updated 2011 Honda Accord Euro goes on sale in NZ” »

Honda Insight S 2011 Review

April 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Honda’s new Insight hybrid is a little like the Terminator – a character made famous by the sci-fi films of the same name. Like the staunch film figure the Insight is here on earth to terminate something – excessive fuel usage. And like the film’s character the Insight isn’t the first model but is stronger, and more advanced than its predecessor. But unlike the Terminator we’ve seen on screen, the Honda Insight isn’t going to be killed off after two hours. The Insight represents a genre of vehicle that is here to stay and while Toyota’s Prius may be winning the battle so far, it feels like the hybrid wars are just beginning. Honda’s Insight is a machine that’s important for the future so Car and SUV enlisted for a test drive today.

The first generation Insight, a two-door coupe is a rarity on NZ roads, but is easily spotted because it looks odder than a $3 note. For the sequel, Honda has opted for a more practical four-door hatchback body shape and few of its predecessors styling cues remain.

Up front, Honda’s corporate face is accented by blue-tinted headlight lenses and a grinning front bumper with recessed fog lamps. Along the flanks, flattened wheel arches are partially filled by 15-inch 7-spoke alloy wheels – standard on our tested S spec model. At the rear an almost flattened rear windscreen works into a tinted vertical glass panel in a look that’s reminiscent of the second generation CR-X. Despite the aggressive styling, the windows are large and visibility is very good all around, including its radical rear. There are clear similarities in wedge like shape between the Insight and Toyota’s Prius caused by both cars’ designers chasing down optimum aerodynamics. Continue reading “Honda Insight S 2011 Review” »

Mugen to give Honda CR-Z more power and aggressive appeal

March 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Right now performance cars fans have no issues drive their petrol powered machines, but in the future if petrol keeps rising in price, simple economics might push us all into much different machines.

Whether you’re into it or not hybrid-power is here to stay and in 10 or 15 years time it may make up a major component of the performance car scene. We have begun to see more sports focused hybrids in the last couple of years and one of the first to have any genuine interest to performance car fans is the Honda CR-Z.

Built as a spiritual successor to Honda’s iconic CR-X the CR-Z looks cool but doesn’t have a real performance vehicle. That’s right, it’s a bit slow, but that is expected to change with the help of Honda’s Mugen performance division. Mugen is preparing a “highly-tuned” version of the CR-Z that it claims will deliver “Type R-like” performance. This faster, more powerful CR-Z Mugen prototype is being developed as a joint project between Honda UK and Mugen Euro, and will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this July.

Honda claims that the CR-Z Mugen prototype will feature modifications to both the 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine and the Honda IMA system to boost power and torque. Surprisingly these mods may actually result in even better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions during some conditions. Final power, torque and fuel economy figures haven’t been announced yet.

Other performance upgrades include a bespoke braking package, retuned suspension and Mugen will also make use of lightweight components such as a carbon fibre bonnet and lightweight alloy wheels. The special CR-Z will also receive a new body kit that includes a new front apron, grille with LED daytime running lights, roof-mounted wing and deep side skirting. Continue reading “Mugen to give Honda CR-Z more power and aggressive appeal” »

Japan Auto Industry battling plant shut downs after disasters

March 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Japan’s auto industry lays in tatters after the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency disasters that have ravaged the country from last Friday.

Most major Japanese automakers have been effected with their production slowed or shut down completely by the disaster, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda Mitsubishi and Subaru.

Toyota has shuttered all production in Japan until today to help conserve energy as the country deals with rolling blackouts due to power failures and the threat of a meltdown at its Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Honda has also ceased production at several plants, including in Suzuka where it makes several high-demand hybrid models.

The problems are also coming from suppliers who’s operations have been severely disrupted by the disaster and cannot deliver parts on time to automakers’ assembly plants. With such a complex global supply chain production in other countries is becoming affected as well.

Mazda and Subaru have had to extended their Japanese plant closures until this Sunday due to a parts shortage. That shortage also affects Subaru and Toyota production in the United States where some plants have had to suspend production due to a shortage of parts. Continue reading “Japan Auto Industry battling plant shut downs after disasters” »

2011 Honda Jazz goes on sale in NZ

March 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Honda NZ has just landed its updated 2011 Jazz sub-compact hatchbacks. The latest version of the popular model comes with fresh styling to the exterior and interior, new features, new colours, Electronic Stability Control and a 5 Star Euro NCAP Safety rating.

There are now seven colours for Jazz buyers to choose from, with the addition of Fresh Lime Green, Sunset Orange and Storm Silver. The styling updates affect the Jazz’s front and rear bumpers, grille, headlights and tail-lights.

New standard features on the 2011 Jazz range include Electronic Stability Control (Honda’s VSA), improved look and feel to the interior upholstery, trip computer integration with the steering wheel controls and passenger seat-belt reminders. The interior and dash layout upgrade includes amber interior and instrument panel lighting to enhance the driving experience.

The Jazz 1.3S model now comes standard with 15” alloy wheels, rear spoiler and cruise control, while all 1.3 and 1.5 litre models receive new dynamic styling to the front and rear bumpers, grille and lower skirts.

The i-VTEC engine, combined with either the 5-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual (1.3S models only), remains unchanged. The 1.5 litre Jazz achieves power of 88kW and torque of 145Nm, and the 1.3 litre, power of 73kW and torque of 127Nm.  Racing inspired paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow gear shifts in automatic mode or full manual operation in ‘Sport’ mode for driver control.

Winning the Small Car Class in the recent AA Energywise Rally demonstrates the fuel economy potential of the Honda Jazz.  Its fuel economy figures are 5.8, 6.6 and 6.7 litres per 100km respectively for the Jazz 1.3S manual, Jazz 1.3S automatic and Jazz 1.5 Sport. Continue reading “2011 Honda Jazz goes on sale in NZ” »

New 2011 Honda V6 Accord goes on sale in NZ

February 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2011 Honda V6 Accord has gone on sale in NZ and comes packing some new features and updated styling.

There’s a new front bumper, grille, headlights and reworked detailing on the boot lid and rear lights, as well as new wheel options. The standard equipment level has also been increased so all vehicles in the range have some luxury kit.

An improved ADR fuel economy figure of 9.9L/100km, parking sensors, USB audio integration for iPod or memory sticks and an easy to use jack-knife key are just some of the new enhancements to the 2011 Honda V6 Accord.

Honda has worked hard on its fuel efficiency  with the V6 Accord’s cutting edge i-VTEC 3.5 litre, 24 valve, high torque V6 engine delivering impressive power and torque figures of 202kW @ 6200rpm and 340Nm @ 5000rpm respectively.

The V6 Accord uses Honda’s VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) technology.  This system actively monitors throttle position, vehicle speed, engine speed, automatic transmission gear selection and other factors to determine whether three, four or six cylinders are needed to meet driver demand.  This provides maximum requested power and efficiency from the powerful V6 engines available. Whether maximum power is required (six cylinders), or moderate acceleration for mild hills (four cylinders), or if the vehicle is just cruising (three cylinders), the V6 Accord makes the change on the driver’s behalf. Continue reading “New 2011 Honda V6 Accord goes on sale in NZ” »