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.

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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” »

Honda to cease selling Civic sedan in Japan

November 16th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

If recent reports coming out of Japan are to be believed Honda will finish selling its Civic sedan in its home market as soon as existing inventories run out. Japanese customers have firmly shifted their focus towards MPVs and more compact vehicles, meaning the popularity of the Civic has sharply decreased with only 452 sales in the JDM last month.

Other markets tell a different story, however, and Honda is still committed to offering the Civic sedan in the United States and Europe, where sales numbers are much more encouraging. New versions of both the U.S.- and Euro-spec Civics are set to be released late next year. For now, Honda will continue to build Civic sedans at its Suzuka plant for export purposes. The future of the Civic sedan here in NZ is at this stage, unclear. Continue reading “Honda to cease selling Civic sedan in Japan” »

Honda’s new small vehicle concept to debut in Thailand

November 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Honda is preparing to officially unveil the production version of its new sub-compact concept at this year’s Thailand International Motor Expo. It was firstly spotted in concept guise at the New Delhi show earlier this year, now it’s ready to be unleashed in both the Indian and Thai markets with a $10,000 USD price tag and cute styling.

When Honda shows off a concept it is often little more than a production version of the car with some elaborate bodywork. So it seems likely that the production hatch will be nearly identical to the pictured show version.

More details on the concept will be released after the New Small Vehicle gets its full unveil. For now, little is known in terms of drivetrains or if any other global markets will see this budget beast.

Honda displays CR-Z Hybrid R and Racer Concept machines

November 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Despite some initial disapproval of Honda’s hybrid CR-Z as a spiritual successor to the old favourite CR-X many tuning companies are now getting into it. The SEMA show in Las Vegas has played host to a range of modified CR-Zs like the Mugen version (read news) but the most striking could be the two concept models created by Honda’s North American racing company, Honda Performance Development (HPD).

The CR-Z Hybrid R and CR-Z Racer studies were developed to demonstrate the potential for both street and racing applications for the CR-Z.

The two cars share most of the same performance enhancements including a turbocharger and upgraded IMA hybrid system, which result in an estimated combined output of 150kW and 237Nm of torque. Both models also get a performance clutch, limited-slip differential, retuned suspension, upgraded brakes and some aerodynamic pieces.

After those mods, the Hybrid R street-spec model was given some sport touches to the interior such as a red steering wheel rim and Recaro bucket seats.

The Racer was given the lightweight treatment and stripped of every part that was not required. It was also fitted with a range of racing accessories including a Sparco bucket seat and roll cage. Honda now plans to campaign the two HPD CR-Z Racers at an upcoming endurance race in the States to best show off the car’s racing capability.

Honda unveils CR-Z Mugen at SEMA show

November 4th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The SEMA show in Las Vegas is where many car makers and vehicle tuners show off their latest creations and Honda has shown its not just there to play the pokies. The Japanese manufacturer has released a range of tuned versions of its CR-Z model in an attempt to gather interest for the hybrid model after its initial luke-warm reception with Honda fans.

One of the special CR-Z models on display is the fully accessorized Mugen version that will enter limited production next year. The package includes a full Mugen body kit, a front grille, rear wing spoiler, 17-inch “XJ” aluminum wheels, sport mats, a unique black aluminum shift knob and a billet aluminum oil-filler cap. The body kits look the part and will be available in all five CR-Z colours, so if the hybrid Honda makes it to NZ at least it can look hard even if it can’t go hard.

Check out more images of the Mugen CR-Z below.

Honda whips out Accord Crosstour concept at Las Vegas show

November 4th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Honda booth at this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas certainly has been a busy one. There’s been a total of twelve modified CR-Z sport hybrid coupes and also  the HFP (Honda Factory Performance) prepared Accord Crosstour concept car.

This crossover version of the popular Accord is a demonstration concept only and comes fitted with a body kit and blacked out front grille, it sits on lowered HFP sport suspension and unique alloy wheels. Other special features include color-matched door handles and blacked out door sash trim.

Honda has released few details on the Accord Crosstour concept and may be simply gauging interest before it considers any form of production.