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” »

Honda Jazz takes lead as Japan’s biggest selling car

February 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

While there is no doubt that the Toyota Prius is the world’s best-selling hybrid, in Japan there is a new sheriff in town — the Honda Jazz. The Prius has held out for the past 20 months as the top-selling automobile in Japan but for January of this year the Honda Jazz compact hatch took over the top spot.

Jazz sales in Japan surged to 14,873 units in the first month of this year, which is a 14 percent increase over the sales it achieved back in January 2010. In the January sales almost half of the 14,000-plus Japanese buyers went for the Jazz Hybrid.

Much of the hybrid Honda’s gas-electric appeal comes from its ¥1.59 million ($24,900 NZD) price tag, which is around $4,500 NZ less than the Honda Insight and it undercuts the Prius by a similar amount.

This is a clear sign that the market for hybrid compact hatchbacks is growing. Does the Honda Jazz have the endurance to out last the Prius in this battle. Only time will tell. Continue reading “Honda Jazz takes lead as Japan’s biggest selling car” »

Honda restarts development of new NSX supercar

February 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Heads up Honda fans, it appears that the once iconic NSX has been lifted from the grave and is now a candidate for production.

Is it for real this time? Well, no one really knows at this stage but Honda president Takashi Ito has come forward and announced that he’s going to begin development on the supercar.

Those are big words especially considering how unceremoniously the next NSX was dropped by Honda when the global economy dumped its oil back in 2008. At that time, the project was called the HSV-010 (pictured), and Honda got as far as prototype vehicles which it went on to race in the Japanese Super GT series.

Since then, the supercar segment has seen a invasion of new machines. Mercedes-Benz is back in the fray with its SLS AMG, Lexus is playing hardball with the high-tech LFA and established models like the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Nissan GT-R are firmly holding a share of the market.

I think the entire performance car world would like to see Honda roll out a new NSX but the Japanese carmaker has been struggling these last couple of years. So it’s a bad idea to hold your breath while waiting. Continue reading “Honda restarts development of new NSX supercar” »

Next-generation Honda Civic ready mid-year

January 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Back in the day, Soichiro Honda decided to build a car for the common man, it was to be Japan’s VW Beetle or Mini Cooper. The car that Soichiro and Honda produced was the first Civic and the next-generation model is all about sticking to that original idea.

The all-new 2012 Civic is expected to launch into international markets in April this year and Honda plans to roll out a whole variety of different body shapes and engine set-ups and within mere weeks of each other, instead of letting months pass between the debut of one model to the next.

Among the different body types, we can expect both a sedan and a coupe, with several conventional petrol engines to be sold and even natural gas and hybrid versions. But it’s the sports focuses Civic Si and ultimately a new Civic Type-R that the go-fast crew will be waiting on.

The new Civic, was first previewed recently at the Detroit Auto Show, was actually scheduled for production back in 2009. But when the word recession started being thrown around, Honda took some time, reviewed the design and gave it a complete overhaul. The end result of what might seem like procrastination will be a more advanced and spacious vehicle, but the exterior design has stayed largely the same.

Honda fans should keep an eye out for the new 2012 Civic round the middle of the year with hot versions to follow shortly after. Till then check out images in the gallery below. Continue reading “Next-generation Honda Civic ready mid-year” »

Ariel Atom celebrates tenth birthday with Mugen edition

December 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The track-focused stripped down Ariel Atom has just turned 10 years old and to celebrate the British maker has joined forces with Mugen’s European branch to develop a special edition model. The new even lighter model will be launched into the European market in January 2011 with a very limited production run of just 10 cars.

Making the special edition special will be some new paintwork and every unit will come with a individual plate signed by Mugen and Ariel technicians. According to Ariel, the Atom Mugen will be as uncompromising as ever, using Honda’s K20Z naturally aspirated Type R engine to its full potential.

The Mugen-prepared powerplant produces 270 hp from its 2.0-litre displacement, which will be enough for speed freak customers.

“The Type R Honda is the best 2.0-liter normally aspirated engine available. We have put our experience and know how to release even more power from the engine and we’re delighted to see our engine in the Ariel Atom”, Vice President of Mugen Euro, Mr. Hiroki Toyoda said.

The Atom Mugen will be fully handbuilt with one Ariel employee making each car while his Mugen counterpart assembles the engine.

The Atom Mugen will be first shown at next month’s 2011 Autosport Show in Birmingham, UK. Further details will be released shortly.