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.

Honda Civic concept previewed with smooth sketch

December 15th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Honda has just released a preview illustration of its next generation Honda Civic.

The Civic has been a long serving model for the Japanese carmaker and is now entering it’s ninth generation. The new model is set to be unveiled in Detroit at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in concept form. The initial design sketch shows off a sleek and aerodynamic profile that has a strong resemblance to the Honda CR-Z. The sketch shows a sporty three-door hatchback, but prototypes of the Civic sedan version have already been spotted in spy photos.

No announcement has been made on engine options and if any of them will offer any real performance. It is expected that the Civic range will receive at least one new petrol engine and one diesel unit. A dual-clutch transmission is also a possibility, but nothing has been made official so far.

The production version of the new Civic should go on sale in NZ late next year.

Honda Insight hybrid now available for NZ market

December 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The introduction of the 2011 Honda Insight to New Zealand is offering kiwis an alternative hybrid vehicle to the Prius and offers Honda badge fans a hatch with some advanced features.

The Insight is powered by a dual power plant unit that features some of Honda’a most advanced environmental technology.  Its engine features not only a 2-stage i-VTEC system that gives Variable Cylinder Management, but also a dual spark ignition system. This, is mated to Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) to provide a total output of 72Kw and 167Nm of torque.

This should make for capable performance and strong fuel economy.  The IMA system includes Auto-Stop and regeneration charging of the electric storage battery. Regeneration recaptures energy that would otherwise be lost in braking or deceleration and returns power back to the car.

This IMA technology means that the Insight costs 40% less to run than the average equivalent sized hatchback based on official figures.  To prove it’s ability the Insight was entered into the 2010 AA Energy Wise Rally and won the Supreme Award as New Zealand’s most cost efficient car to run. The winning drivers achieved 4.6l/100kms over 1763kms (NZ$147.83) which matches its catalogued ADR fuel economy figure.

Continue reading “Honda Insight hybrid now available for NZ market” »

Honda to build petrol-only turbo CR-Z Type-R

December 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

As the spiritual successor to the old-favourite CR-X, Honda’s new CR-Z promised so much. Unfortunately, what was delivered failed to impress and while the hybrid CR-Z hasn’t made it down to NZ just yet, few are waiting with anticipation. But this could all change as Honda is reportedly developing a gasoline-powered, hot-coupe version of the CR-Z model.

Currently, the CR-Z currently comes solely as a hybrid with a 84 kW 1.5 litre engine mated to an electric motor. But the reports suggest that Honda will now expand the CR-Z’s appeal by using a newly developed 1.6 litre turbocharged engine for more powerful CR-Z variants, including a CR-Z Type R. The production model will be most likely styled on the CR-Z Hybrid R concept (pictured) taken to the SEMA show in Las Vegas last month.

This new force-fed engine will be offered in two power outputs, a 119 kW version and a 149 kW model, the engine could also see service in the Jazz, Civic and possibly Accord models. The stronger 149kW variant will also replace Honda’s outgoing 2.0 liter TEC engine in the next Civic Type R.

The CR-Z Type R is scheduled for production next year, if it all goes ahead. Good news for Honda fans everywhere.

Honda uncovers Brio city car prototype

December 1st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Honda has just dropped the sheets off its latest city-car prototype at this year’s Thailand International Motor Show. Named the Brio, the vehicle is targeted at the emerging markets in India and Thailand.

Honda has changed focus and now says it will develop unique models for various markets, noting that the Thai version will be more efficient than its Indian stablemate. The flip side is that the Indian market Brio will come with a greater focus on driving performance to suit customer demands. Honda didn’t announce what engine will power the Brio, but early speculation would suggest the Japanese automakers 1.2-liter four-cylinder mill.

The Brio should go a long way to helping Honda tap into the growing consumer interest in economical small cars in parts of Asia but competition is fierce. Honda will need to battle cheap metal from Suzuki, Hyundai and Kia among others.

Check out more images in the gallery below. Continue reading “Honda uncovers Brio city car prototype” »