April 1st, 2011 by Car and SUV
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” »
March 22nd, 2011 by Car and SUV
It will still be at least two years before Porsche’s new 918 Spyder hybrid supercar reaches production, but that’s not stopping the German carmaker from putting a price tag on it and opening the order book.
The 918 Spyder is to be the most expensive model ever built by Porsche with European prices starting from €645,000 ($1.24m NZD). That’s a large chunk of change to say the least but for the money buyer’s will get the latest hybrid tech and the natural successor to the iconic Carerra GT.
Production of the 918 Spyder will take place at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen plant in Germany starting from September 18, 2013, with first deliveries to commence in November 2013. Porsche plans to limit production of the two-seater model to no more than 918 units worldwide.
The 918 Spyder is closely modeled after the concept study seen at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. However, the production version will not have a full open-top look, instead it will go with removable roof panels that can be stowed in the front luggage compartment. Other differences from the concept include the addition of exterior mirrors and the removal of the side exhaust tail pipes. Continue reading “Porsche announces pricing and details for 918 Spyder Hybrid Supercar” »
March 21st, 2011 by Car and SUV
It was just a couple of weeks back that we brought readers the sad news that Mitsubishi planned to kill of its iconic hero model – the Lancer Evolution. Currently, in its tenth generation, Mitsubishi claimed dropping sales and plans for a new greener direction. This left Evo fans globally sulking around the house and making attempts at drowning their sorrows.
But now, after a strong backlash, Mitsubishi is backing down quickly from its earlier claims that the Lancer Evolution would be no more after its 10th generation. The Japanese automaker now promises that the Evo X will live out its life cycle as planned, and will continue to evolve in the future, but that may mean going a slightly different direction.
A different direction, WTF you might say. Well you got to feel a bit sorry for Mitsi here, it’s desperately trying to balance the necessity to move toward more eco-friendly vehicles while not alienating the huge fan base that the Evo has cultivated since the first-generation car was introduced in 1992. Continue reading “Mitsubishi to keep Evolution alive… for now” »
March 11th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Toyota is celebrating a new milestone with global sales of it’s hybrid vehicles now reaching the three million mark.
Toyota offers 16 different hybrid models around the world in 80 different countries, and it’s about to introduce several new variations of the Prius. Toyota’s hybrid sales began in Japan in 1997 with the launch in August of the Coaster Hybrid EV. This was followed in December by Prius, with just 323 sales in that first month.
Global demand for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles is accelerating rapidly, with one million being sold in the past 18 months alone – more than one per minute.
By contrast, it took almost 10 years to sell the first one million Toyota hybrids and two years and three months to sell the second million – a milestone only reached in September 2010.
The global total of Toyota hybrid sales to the end of February was just over 3 million, which includes more than 2.1 million Prius and 210,000 Hybrid Camry.
Toyota New Zealand executive director Paul Carroll said responding to environmental issues whilst providing a range of fun to drive vehicles for customers is a priority for the company.
He said: “Customers are increasingly turning to hybrid vehicles in the face of rising fuel costs and a desire for more sustainable low cost motoring. As the leader in hybrid technology, Toyota is well placed to meet consumer needs both now and in the future.” Continue reading “Toyota’s global hybrid sales reach three million units” »
February 28th, 2011 by Car and SUV
Lexus New Zealand has just launched the all-new CT200h, the world’s first full hybrid luxury compact car.
Lexus National Manager, Debbie Pattullo said CT200h is the car for tomorrow’s forward thinking driver, and is the gateway to bring a new generation of customers to the Lexus brand.
“CT200h is an exciting addition to the Lexus line-up. The inclusion of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system in a compact luxury model makes this a unique vehicle which we’re sure the luxury vehicle buyer in New Zealand will appreciate.”
“There’s a definite trend toward small vehicles that do not compromise on features. CT200h gives Lexus a presence in this growing luxury compact segment. At the same time, CT200h is an example of the Lexus commitment to developing cars that are innovative, and different from what’s already out there in the marketplace.”
The modern styling on the CT200h combines with low CO2 emissions and high fuel economy to create a tempting prospect for NZ buyers.
Fuel consumption is just 4.1 litres per 100 kilometres with 94 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre.
In full EV (Electric Vehicle) mode, the new CT200h can be driven at low speeds in almost complete silence, using no fuel and emitting zero emissions when certain conditions have been met. Continue reading “Lexus launches CT200h luxury hatch into NZ market” »
February 23rd, 2011 by Car and SUV
There’s often serious debate over what’s best in the current automotive climate – diesels or hybrids? But now Volvo may have found an answer to this problem but offering both options in one vehicle. The Swedish automaker is storming into Geneva with what it’s calling “the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid”.
Housed inside the handsome V60 wagon, the diesel hybrid has two distinct drivetrains that can operate separately or in tandem with each another. Sitting under the bonnet is a 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel with 160kW and 438Nm of torque, while a 70-horsepower electric motor with a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack turns the Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD).
Through dashboard-mounted buttons, the V60 hybrid can operate in ‘Pure’ mode as a fully electric vehicle with a 51km range. In Hybrid mode, it emits less than 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer and has an impressive with a 1200km range. If you’re not in a green mood then there is a Power mode that turns the powerplant into a boosted torque monster with and will take the V60 to 100kph in just 6.9-seconds sprint. While that won’t trouble many sports wagons, for a diesel hybrid it’s a rapid figure. Continue reading “Volvo to debut V60 diesel hybrid at Geneva Show” »
February 9th, 2011 by Car and SUV
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” »