Honda to cease diesel engine development

July 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s no secret how far diesel engines have come in the last few years. Old issues like rough running, nasty smells, loud operation and narrow power bands have all been ironed out. But after all that hard work, many automakers are now turning much of their focus on to electric and hybrid vehicles.

According to sources in Japan, Honda is joining the list of global automakers that have abandoned plans to move further into diesel power development. Instead, Honda will continue to focus entirely on hybrid basket, developing a new system for use in larger vehicles. Currently, Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist technology is used in the Civic Hybrid and the Insight.

Honda’s next hybrid system should further improve its current IMA tech, which has fallen short of the fuel efficiency and performance of rival Toyota, but is able to operate on the electric motor alone for longer stretches.

In addition to stopping development of clean diesel tech, Honda has also put the brakes on the new microcar plant in Japan that was to build future Kei cars for the domestic market.

Honda Impossible Dream

June 25th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Honda Impossible Dream commercial shot in New Zealand

Honda remakes Impossible Dream ad with more NZ scenery (+video)

May 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Honda has brought back its once popular Impossible Dream TV commercial. The original ad was shot mostly here in NZ and aired in many countries a few years back. The first ad featured a range of models from the Japanese company’s past. From lowly scooters to the company’s early racing bikes and F1 cars, the ad was a highlight reel of successful products new and old.

Since the Impossible Dream ad first aired things have changed for Honda. It’s abandoned its F1 efforts, discontinued the S2000 and moved it’s focus to boring passenger vehicles. But the new updated The Impossible Dream II clip shows no boring stuff. Honda has removed any reference to Formula One and ha now removed the old hot-air balloon at the end of the ad in favor of products like the new Honda Jet, CR-Z hybrid and the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Even Asimo, Honda’s much teased robot makes a cameo and the end features a hot tub powered by a Honda generator to help display a full range of products.

Check out the new Impossible Dream II ad by clicking on the link below and see if you can recognise any NZ spots featured.

Continue reading “Honda remakes Impossible Dream ad with more NZ scenery (+video)” »

Honda posts 28% increase in profits

April 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Honda has now joined automakers like Kia and Ford by posting solid profits during the fourth quarter of the company’s fiscal year. Now successfully weathering the economic recession storm, Honda has managed to see profits rise by 28 percent over the same period last year. This announcement marks the fourth-straight quarter of profits for the company a operating loss at the end of March, 2009. The reason behind the recent profits could be put down to hybrid sales.

In the Japanese domestic market, sales have been bolstered by the incredibly popular CR-Z Hybrid (pictured). Honda has already received over 7,000 orders for the two-door hatchback, which accounted for more than half of the vehicles the company had planned on selling in its home market.

Honda also claims its quick recovery is helped by having a range comprised mostly of fuel-efficient vehicles, something buyers in a global recession appreciate. After this good news, Honda expects to see growth continue through the rest of 2010.

Mugen releases details on Honda CR-Z upgrades

March 1st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Honda claims its new CR-Z hybrid hatchback will mark a return to the days of the sporty little CR-X. With that in mind Honda specialist tuner Mugen, is now showing off its package of accessories for the CR-Z ahead of its official sale date. Unfortunately, none of the new kit will make the car any faster, but it should make the CR-Z look meaner.

Included in the upgrade are a reworked front and rear fascias, side skirts and a very prominent roof-mounted rear spoiler. A new grille with optional LED lamps can be include, triangular rear exhaust tips could sit out back, and there’s at least five different alloy wheel options. There are also some finer details like a unnecessary carbon fibre license plate holder.

Interior upgrades include an aluminum gearshift knob, a three-gauge central cluster, new floor mats etc etc. Luckily, there are a few extras that will improve the car’s driving dynamics, including a sportier exhaust system, upgraded springs and shocks and upgraded brake pads. Will those pieces be enough to offset the added weight of the body kit? Possibly, but they sure make it look cool.

Honda UK reveals Civic Type-R Mugen 200

February 17th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Late last year Mugen’s UK-based tuning arm got stuck into the Euro Civic Type-R, the result was a 220-hp, stripped down hot hatch with only 20 produced. Riding on thel success of that limited-edition model, Honda UK is now offering another Mugen-fettled Civic Type-R this March, but it can’t quite match the gusto of its track-spec predecessor.

Included in the package is a set of front and rear Mugen bumper skirts, lightweight ‘Lightning” 19-inch wheels, limited slip differential and a Championship White exterior, the most recent Type-R to receive the famous hue. Unfortunately, the engine hasn’t been worked not even the exhaust or ECU, so output remains unchanged at 200 horsepower.

An assortment of badges and plaques are included on the 200 limited-edition models, which are being released to celebrate Honda’s return to the British Touring Car Championship this April. The BTCC team will compete in two Civics which will feature a similar white and black colour scheme to the Mugen 200 cars.

Honda CR-Z Concept Tokyo 2009 Promo

February 15th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The world’s first hybrid vehicle equipped with a six-speed manual transmission

Honda City S 2009 Review

January 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Reincarnation isn’t an easy concept to understand. The idea that we leave this world in one form and return in a completely new shape seems far-fetched to many. But if it’s hard to swallow in terms of humans and animals it’s much easy to believe when it comes to cars. Case and point is Honda’s new City. We all recognise the nameplate from the first generation City hatch that while diminutive in stature was near omnipresent on NZ roads. Through the 1980s and 1990s it was hard to miss the boxy little City as it shuttled Grandmas and students alike around our county, before slowly dying out.

Now, the City has been reborn into the Kiwi marketplace, but not as a micro hatchback, instead as a small sedan. Creating many questions like has the soul of the original City been retained in this new earthly form? Or aside from a boot what else does it have to offer? In search of the truth Car and SUV took the new City on a journey of discovery.

Styling wise the City has more than a passing resemblance to Honda’s larger Accord Euro despite it being based on the Jazz platform. Even with multiple mechanical similarities the City is much more than simply a Jazz with a boot. It sits lower and longer with a purposeful stance. It’s aesthetic is ultra-modern with a high-waist and a snazzy silver and black grille providing a bold front accent. Steel 15-inch wheels are standard on the City S, step up to the City E for 16-inch alloys. Overall, the styling is razor sharp and has a knack for disguising the car’s bantam size with a brawny athletic presence.

Step inside and you see exactly why the City is an interesting proposition. Where small sedans have often been marketed towards older drivers the City has a young, urban appeal in the cabin. Kicking it off it is a 45-Watt, 6-speaker stereo system that could rival cars twice the price for sound quality. A USB jack is located in the deep centre console for hooking up iPods/MP3 players and interface is excellent with steering wheel controls capable of jogging through iPod tracks.

The curvaceous dashboard blends quality black plastics with alloy-look trim and a leather-bound steering wheel is pleasant to the touch. Controls are stylishly but logically laid out and are always illuminated making them easy to operate while driving. With air-conditioning, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking with alarm, rear under-seat storage and numerous cup-holders the City offers a generous amount of kit in base model form.

The seats in the City are comfortable with good support and the rear pew is surprisingly accommodating with excellent leg and headroom for a small vehicle. The seating position allows good visibility but could offer a lower adjustment to suit taller drivers.

For all the City’s interior trickery it’s the cavernous boot that is really magic. With a staggering 506-litre capacity the City’s boot can take more luggage than many larger sedans, including the Accord Euro and even the Holden Commodore.

Like the boot the bonnet has a lot of free space inside, with Honda’s tiny 1.5 litre 4-cylinder motor struggling to fill the capacious area. The 88kW engine is lifted straight from the Jazz and while it’s eager to please reaching 100kph will take nearly 12 seconds. However, the City weighs just 1110kg and has no problems moving swiftly around town when worked hard. It’s not the most refined powerplant around but is offset by a well-insulated cabin that lets little engine, road and wind noise inside.

With a drive-by-wire throttle and clever programmed fuel injection, petrol consumption is miserly with 6.3l/100km possible on the combined cycle.

The engine in our test vehicle was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission which allows short and easy changes. Combined with a light clutch pedal and even lighter electronic power-steering the manual City is a no fuss vehicle to pilot even in stop-start traffic.

Leave the bright lights and take the City on more twisty roads and it sits flat and remains settled during cornering. In terms of dynamics it’s competent and predictable but don’t push too hard because stability and traction control are notable omissions from the City’s spec sheet. In 2010 even cheaper new vehicles are expected to be fitted with stability control and its absence could prove an influencing factor for the safety conscious buyer.

Safety features the City does have include front passenger, driver and side airbags as well as curtain airbags, ABS brakes, seatbelt pretensioners and a reinforced passenger safety cell.

Now we’ve reached a state of complete enlightenment, what’s the verdict?

We tested the base model City S and it certainly didn’t feel entry-level, the interior is spacious, stylish and well assembled with an excellent equipment list as standard. Priced from $26,900 with the manual transmission it offers value for money and could be the pick of the City range.  It’s dynamically impressive for a small sedan and cheap to run. Although it can feel underpowered at times, during regular suburban driving that will prove a non-issue for many. The XL size boot and spacious cabin add to its practical value and there is a reassuring sense of quality inside and out.

Even with its new body shape and modern fit-out the new Honda City isn’t a total reincarnation of the old favourite. It still offers the same reliable budget motoring that the original City did with ‘almost’ everything you need and nothing you don’t. So if you’re purchasing in the niche small sedan segment give it a test drive.

Price: from $26,900

What we like:

  • Quality interior
  • Sharp styling throughout
  • Massive boot

What we don’t like:

  • Lack of traction & stability control
  • Sluggish engine
  • Drivers seating position

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Honda City S (2009) – Specifcations

Engine 16-valve, 1.5 litre, i-VTEC
Maximum Power 88kW @ 6600rpm
Maximum Torque 145Nm @ 4800rpm
Valvetrain i-VTEC (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift, Electronic Control) performance and economy enhancing technology

Suspension System MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension
Turning circle (metres) 5.0
Front Brakes 262mm (10.3″) ventilated discs
Rear Brakes 239mm (9.4″) solid discs
Braking System ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and EBA (Emergency Brake Assist)
Wheel size  15 x 5.5JJ
Tyre size  175/65 R15
Full size steel spare wheel.
Wheels  15″ steel wheels

Length (mm)      4410
Width (mm)     1695
Height (mm)     1470
Wheel base (mm)     2550
Track front/rear (mm)     1695
Steering wheel turns, lock-to-lock     2.7
Turning circle (metres)     5.0
Kerb Weight (kg)     1110 (man) 1145 (auto)
Maximum warrantable towing weight (kg)  1000 (man) 800 (auto)
Luggage capacity (litres, VDA)     506

Fuel tank capacity (litre)      42
Recommended Fuel     91-octane regular unleaded
Emission Control standards     Emissions fall within Euro IV and LEV II international standards