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Archive for the ‘Honda’ Category

Honda CRZ Update

In Honda on February 27, 2009 at 5:05 pm

With Takeo Fukui now packing his pencils away and fellow engineer Takanobu Ito now readying himself to take the helm of the big Hall eyes will be on the company to see if they can regain some of their lost passion for sports models following the cancellation of the NSX and the postponement of the next generation S2000.

Apparently Mr Ito feels that future sports models are essential and integral to Honda’s future. 

The first new model to carry at least sporting pretensions that is set to arise from the new leaner Honda will be the much mooted CRZ.

Currently due to be launched at the beginning of next year, Honda plan to introduce the car as an exceptionally handling sporty car rather than a pure sports car as such.

Although some perhaps erroneous reports of late suggest the CRZ will be receiving a 1.8 litre engine, it still appears more likely that the car is going to launch with a tuned version of the Insight’s 1.3 litre VTEC connected to the same IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system to complete its hybrid credentials.  With the combined power of the engine and motor, the CRZ should be able to output 120 ps.  

Speculation is rife that the CRZ wil only weigh 1100kg which these days is pretty trim.  Honda hope that the light weight will help the car to achieve sprightly performance whilst still making 30 km/l fuel efficiency.

Honda are set to build the car on the same basic platform as the Insight however the CRZ will be both shorter and wider.

Another note of interest is that the worlds first potential drivers hybrid is now thought likely to be released with its old namesake of CRX instead of the development code CRZ in order to truly show its spiritual link to the legendary 80’s predecessor.

Honda’s mini sports hybrid is expected to go on sale at between 2 to 2.5 million JPY bringing it in line with current Insight pricing.

Sounds rather promising but here’s hoping that the rumours of a bigger more powerful 1.8 litre unit serve true to really give the car the balls it will need to compete against Europe’s finest.

  

Honda CR-Z

Honda CR-Z

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Honda Nsx Memorial

In Honda on February 11, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Honda now resigns itself to surviving the utter crapness of today by flogging cheap hybrids and some other rather bland cars (for the enthusiast, you understand) in their current line up just to keep the company afloat.

Ironically Honda were on the brink of unleashing onto the world probably the fastest normalish sports car ever seen, by normalish i mean to discount silly irrelevant cars that any manufacturer with the cash and will could produce because the buyer has to pay as much as a private jet to own one, a Bugatti Veyron for example.

As everybody knows, Honda’s supercar prototype was cancelled abruptly.

Although Honda have now ruled the car out for the foreseeable future it is worth knowing a few things about what a stunning proposition the new NSX was.

Firstly and sadly it was not going to be cheap, over 20 million JPY was mooted which would have sat it nicely between the Nissan G-TR Spec V and the still confirmed Lexus L-FA.

Weighing in at only 1600 kg and featuring a 90 degree angle,550 ps, v10 front engine connected to a 4×4 chassis it would have been no tortoise. 

Indeed Honda reputedly posted a Nurburgring lap time of under 7 min 20 seconds and at a November 2008 official but secret test session at Suzuka Circuit unceremoniously pulled both Porsche’s 911 and Ferrari’s 430 pants down in quick succession.

The car was apparently almost production ready and it’s hard to believe that Honda have now just stuck the design up one of their engineer’s arses.  If they did, they surely used a little Colombian inspiration and at least put it in an XL condom.

When and if Obama goes nuts like his predecessor and decides to invade Canada, Honda will be donning the white gloves and putting a call through to that engineer no doubt.

Honda Insight

In Honda on February 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm

It finally arrived.

The new Honda Insight made its Japanese sales debut last week.

Honda’s hugely anticipated Eco warrior is now available to sit in, stroke, tyre kick, suspension push or even buy at showrooms across the country.

The little hybrid was widely reported on for months so we all know that it features a 1.3 litre Vtec engine matched to a nickel metal hybride battery in similar style a current Prius.

This results in a very impressive 30km/l which will certainly be less than the upcoming Prius 2 but then that car will be considerably more expensive than the lead in 1,890,000 JPY for the Insight.

A way that Honda has been able to keep the cost of the car down is by utilising basic parts from other existing models.

The insight receives an unremarkable CVT automatic transmission already employed on other lines

Except an exceptionally aerodynamic body and some paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel for when you’re feeling a bit frisky, the Insight doesn’t seem to differ tremendously from Honda’s previous hybrid Civic sedan which already featured their IMA battery.

What does warrant mention though are some of the useful and sometimes hilarious eco assist technologies that come as standard.

With the touch of a button you are able to engage ECON mode that rather cleverly adjusts engine output, extends the duration of idle stop, increases regenerative charging during deceleration and achieves energy saving control of the air conditioning.

The  guidance function assesses driving style for fuel efficiency and changes the colour of the speedometer display accordingly.  Presumably green when you’re driving like Jesus would and red for when you drive like a dickhead.  Worst of all is that all your passengers including the dreaded pots and pans will be able to comment on your hybridness.

The best bit is the scoring function.

An information display shows a score in which the number of leaves displayed indicates the level of your cumulative fuel efficiency.

Apparently if you’re a complete twat you can access your personal score on the Internet to compare against other insighters.

it’s easy to imagine the scene.

After feeling pretty smug about the small forest that you’ve been nurturing on your instrument panel, you’ll be seeing red and preparing hate mail when you discover that you’ve been knocked down the order by user 941 from Kawasaki City whose got a fucking herd of deer running through his as well as some previously extinct flora and fauna making a comeback.

I thought that i might have bought one of these cars.

Why?

It’s cheap motoring and i really do care about the environment, honestly!!!!!

The concept looked stunning and i thought that it was something that it isn’t, a genuinely stylish alternative to a Prius.

I thought it was bigger.

I wanted to buy one to antagonise the weird hybrid despising militants in my home country.  Plans were already afoot to post pictures of me licking my Insight exhaust with my family around me clapping with huge smiles on our faces to various anti hybrid motoring forums.

I had visions of meeting up with other insighters drinking cabbage juice and telling tall tales of driving from Tokyo to Osaka for the same price as a box of surgical masks.

However Honda won’t be receiving my custom yet, largley because i haven’t got any money to give them but also because i found myself disappointed at the car.

With all of  Honda’s public scrimping they seem to have come out with a car that is no more upmarket than a current Fit model.

It seems that the increased price is to cover the hybrid tech only.

The design is neither particularly attractive or indeed ugly like most people.

No doubt though that it will sell well.  It is a very sensible buy and is perfect representation of Honda’s current mindset which is to produce cars that are cheap, fuel efficient, unpolarising and will turn a profit.

Good luck Honda.  You won’t need it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honda Insight

Honda Insight

Next Honda S2000

In Honda on January 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Honda must be a depressing place to work at the moment

The company is winding down production, people are losing their jobs and Honda is seemingly trying as hard as possible to turn themselves into the frumpiest of all Japanese manufacturers by axing everything that might make the company still appear to cling on to Soichiro Honda’s original dream of producing world class affordable or not sports cars as well as their bread and butter line.

This is a shame because up to now Honda has represented all that is arresting about Japanese Automotivity past, present and future.

They are without doubt the most passionate of all their domestic competitors  when it comes to engineering driving flair .

In Formula 1 Japanese fans were ecstatic to see Honda do well in their glory days and loyally supported them even in the non Japanese driver crap years of late.  Toyota has yet to carry or be able to garner the same interest in their largely more successful F1 campaigns of recent.

The company has now cancelled the NSX for the forseeable future and this week announced that production of the popular S2000 would complete in June of this year. 

Worst of all is that Honda have not announced any plans for an expected S2000 replacement or haven’t they?

According to Japanese media a possible spiritual replacement is still in the works and will make an appearance at the end of 2011 or early 2012 depending on market conditions.

The new car will feature another 4 cylinder 2 or 2.5 litre and may make use of a turbo or super charger (previously sacrilege in Honda sports cars).  A power increase is expected but Honda will utilise technlogy to improve petrol consumption ( diesel or hybrid is not being considered currently) such as a stop/start system and developing more efficient engine management.

Lay out is likely to assume a classic FR guise.

Heres hoping that Honda have another go at  it.  

 

Current Honda S2000

Current Honda S2000

New Honda Beat

In Honda on January 19, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Speculation still fuels the rumour that Honda may be planning to produce a successor to the famous Beat model of the 90’s.

The old Beat is now a cult car if ever there was one.  Loads of them exist on the roads of Japan both kept standard and also delightfully tuned.

Although the little Honda was hardly especially fast as it couldn’t really be with only 64 PS to play with produced from its tiny 660 cc engine. Most owners however felt that this was largely offset by the car’s sublime handling.

If the new car goes ahead it will debut in a year or two and will feature either a turbo charged or intelligent (as in the old one) engine management system to reach the maximum 64 PS permitted under Japanese KEI car regulations.

 The car will of course be a two seater and and this time will have an automatic folding metal or soft roof.

Honda will aim for a starting price of below 2 million yen.

I love the old model and would like to buy one but some problems exist. 

Firstly i have a car

I don’t have any money. 

My wife doesn’t like the car.

It isn’t practical.

More than any of these however is that I’m a foreigner living in homogeneous Japan and as any foreigner will tell you who has lived in this country for a time, we like to keep as low a profile as possible when going about daily business for self conscious reasons.

This just isn’t possible in a Honda beat.  It is so small and foreigners look so gigantic in it (with the roof down) that frankly you end up looking like a tit proudly on display for all others in the traffic jam to have a gawk at the interesting chap from overseas in his little Honda.

A bit like an Adult riding a child’s bicycle  

Old Honda beat

Old Honda beat

Japanese Market Honda Accord

In Honda on December 10, 2008 at 5:14 pm

The Accord is one of Honda’s world cars.

Its name is known throughout the world and has been on sale in most markets for nearly 30 years.

Now comes the eighth generation that became available in Europe in the middle of this year but surprisingly didn’t reach us in Japan until now.

The new car comes  in either sedan or estate version and whereas Europe gets a host of  diesel and petrol engines, we only get the top of the heap 2.4 litre petrol VTEC unit producing a reasonably healthy 206 ps.

In Europe the sedan Accord is employed as a repmobile clocking up huge mileages  pounding the continent’s motorway network and it also sells as a family car.

It’ll be a tougher sell in Japan, where these sorts of car are largely out of fashion.  Unless you’re over 50 no-one really buys sedans anymore and those of more advanced age that do, only buy them to remind themselves how cars used to look when they were making them.   It is also far too premium to sell as a company car here. The Tourer (estate) model will grab a few more sales though and could break into the huge family market sector.  However some obstacles remain as most young Japanese with children these days tend to get themselves into a large people carrier like a Honda Stepwagon, Nissan Serena etc as soon as possible and with the same urgency that you or I might buy a pushchair upon confirmation of impending birth.

As a new father myself i was witness to this phenomenon.  After regularly pulling up at the maternity hospital car park it struck me the number of gleaming brand new people carriers parked up and i’m not afraid to admit that i felt a bit small and vulnerable in my reasonably priced Honda Fit (Jazz) with leather steering wheel.  Of course a good number of those holding their new key less entry fobs were new fathers themselves and at the most had only one other child but somehow felt the need to have 7 seats at their disposal.  There’s bound to be more than that as well if you take a good poke around in the glove box or under the seat perhaps.  Frankly the whole episode upset me so much that i even had a look at Isuzu’s heavy vehicle line up on the web and to this day still half plot celebrating the birth of our second baby with the purchase of an Isuzu Journey 19 seat bus.  Ohhhh the look on their faces will be a treat.

Back to the Accord.

It’s clear that the new car leans heavily on its predecessor.  In fact it’s the SAME BLOODY CAR!!!!!!.  Well actually it isn’t but you could be forgiven for thinking so with only a cursory look at the lines.

The grille is pure seventh generation inspired although the headlights are more aggressive and thoughtfully designed.  Body lines are complicated but fluid and work well as they caress towards the rear.  The Accord’s arse is very exciting if only for the glorious twin tail pipes that jut magnificently.

Good looks are mostly true for the Tourer version.

It all starts off conservatively and inoffensively Accord at the front and flows liquidly outwards to the rear culminating in an aggressive squat arse with a window line that accentuates the effect.

On the inside and in keeping with the car’s semi premium status, things are very comfortable.  A long low dashboard takes centre stage that pushes the driver fairly far back.  Lots of soft plastics prevail and i’m sure the seats are very comfortable.

Perhaps best of all it seems the new Accord has a very thick steering wheel that might help those who are more in touch with their feminine genes feel more suitable or it could make you feel worse by exasperating small hand syndrome.

Honda’s new Accord is not at all cheap.

Prices for the Tourer start at 2,950,000 JPY and for the old man sedan edition 2,700,000 JPY. 

Honda Accord Tourer

Honda Accord Tourer

Honda Insight Update

In Honda on December 9, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Last week Honda released a picture of  a near production ready Insight.

Rather negatively it doesn’t look as exciting as the concept but that’s sort of what happens to all concept cars when they reach this stage in the process.  Never the less it still maintains that bold exotic grille and the basic form still persists.

A major announcement is expected at the beginning of February regarding firm details, so expect Honda’s president Takeo Fukui to be standing amongst a plethora of Insight’s in all seven confirmed colours somewhere in Tokyo around that time.

For those Japan based buyers who are chewing at the bit to buy, you will be able to register your interest for an early delivery slot sometime in January.  Which is next month.

Some further information is creeping out in respect of the car’s specification and pricing.

As is known the car has been designed to be as light as possible and is reputed to weigh in at only 1,180 kg which is considerably less than the current Prius.  Some of this saving has been achieved by a revolutionary light windscreen developed by Honda.

The battery is to be placed under the rear 400 litres of luggage space and reassuringly won’t need to be replaced until after 15 years.

For the Japanese market, Honda will offer the Insight in three guises.

The cheap, rubbish one will be the G model.  Apart from the car’s probable dynamics it will be shit unless you  option a few bits and pieces as the car will be an austere affair with most likely very little except an engine of  some description and a crap plastic steering wheel. 

Now, i know the benefits of a leather handle.  I have a cheap car but for some reason it came with a leather steering wheel.    the hided function was not something i specified and i fairly dismissed it when i picked up the car but little did i know the enormous sense of well being it would enamour me with.  It feels so nice under the fingertips and somehow makes driving a reasonable car more pleasant and what’s artistic about is that outside observers have no idea what a state of ecstacy i’m in everytime i drive to the supermarket.  Winter has arrived and its about this time that i like to don my leather jacket and shoes and go for a drive with my steering wheel.  It gives a me a little rush and i’m not ashamed to say that it can feel like someone has begun erecting a little campsite in my trouser pocket.  A primeaval sense of mans power over the beast prevails inside of me.  I like to imagine i’m hauling a whole prize calf from time to time.

That whole leather fetish paragraph was a joke people, before i get nasty feedback.

Anyway back to the car in question.  Apart from the G, the L and LS models will feature a farm derived steering wheel.  The LS model will also have a nifty paddle shifter for those moments when you want to disengage the auto and imagine yourself as a bit of a Takuma Sato.  Lets face it though, all that Formula One style gear changing trickery is likely to stay in your own trousers  as other drivers pass you by and wonder what the tit with the Honda Racing baseball cap is doing fiddling with the indicator stalks.

Well that’s a bit harsh but at somewhere around 90 ps + IMA (hybrid bit), the Insight is unlikely to set anyone’s pubes on fire.

I still want one.  The design looks cool, the dynamics seem very sound but most of all i want to save petrol money and not look like a twat doing it.  I think the Insight might be the answer to this not small dilemma.  A large part of the optimistic  buying logic of course is in my case that all money i save on petrol will well errrr…..maybe….perhaps……help….oh dear…..finance something used, powerful, manual, CHEAP and a bit exciting as a second car. 

Will have to check in with the war office on that one.

Less importantly.  Fuel consumption is still expected at around 30km/l and pricing from 1,950,000 JPY to 2,400,000 JPY.

 

Honda Insight Production Ready

Honda Insight Production Ready

Honda Insight Update

In Honda on November 25, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Honda continues to make ready the Insight for its production debut.

A lot is now known about the upcoming hybrid, especially after its Paris Motor Show airing.

Some questions remain over its fuel consumption figure though and recent information seems to suggest that the car will be capable of returning about 32 KM/L in the 10.15 mode.  I have no idea what the 10.15 mode is but i probably should.  It could either indicate driving in a heavy tailwind whilst slipstreaming a large truck or more likely a 10 to 15 year old driving and the car benefitting from the obvious weight reductions.

Of course these figures won’t be as fuel sippingly good as the next generation Toyota Prius which reputedly will be able to achieve 40KM/L. 

In the Insight’s favour will be the selling price however. Honda have been busy and rather worryingly pulling everything expensive out of the car to enable an entry level price of below 2 million yen, so expect a large options catalogue.

The Prius is expected to be priced at 20 to 30 percent more but will be packing more technology.

Insight power will be derived from a 1.3 litre engine producing 95PS plus 20PS from the motor assist system (hybrid part).  Weight is a reported to be a not very heavy 1150kg.

Honda’s stylish new hybrid is now expected to reach the Japanese public in February , a little earlier than originally thought.

I want one, in white please, with the blue headlights.     

 

2009 Honda Insight

2009 Honda Insight

New Honda Life

In Honda on November 6, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Honda’s new Life arrived in showrooms across the country today as the fifth generation of the popular Kei car went on sale.

The life comes in three guises each trying to represent a different personality.  Starting with the the sort of cheap looking G-type, the slightly more feminine looking Pastel and the supposedly sportier looking Diva.

Differences between the three models are only aesthetic.

Being a Kei car, engines are limited to 660cc but as is normal a turbo edition is also offered increasing power to 64PS over the standard naturally aspirated 52PS.  Performance is likely to be less than startling but shouldn’t be an issue in the market this car competes in.

Safety conscious will be pleased to know that Honda have fitted their new driver side SRS airbag system with continuously staged inflation.  This alone could be a critical factor in parents releasing their hard earned into their daughters first buggy.

Good news too if you’re a bit of a crap parker as the Life features a back-up camera as well as automatic steering assistance to help with those tricky manoeuvres.

Lets face it, if you really need both of those on a car this size and glassy then it might be worth thinking about a bicycle.

The previous generation life was bought almost  overwhelmingly by female buyers and with the new models definite sense of feminimity it’s clear that statistic should continue.  Some but not necessarily all men might be uneasy driving the car, especially the Diva named edition (which interestingly is the most unisex looking of the three).

I love the Kei segment of cars in Japan, there are son many of them and some of them look great and it’s difficult not to admire the engineering that goes into such small cars to make them practical but i find myself dissappointed at Honda’s latest effort.

It’s just such a predictable design, so much so that i feel i could have envisaged this car myself and could have foretold the design a long time ago.  Of course it would be silly for Honda to be too revolutionary with the new car as it is expected to again be the biggest seller amongst the company’s domestic portfolio.  The new inoffensive design at least shouldn’t alienate potential buyers but it certainly doesn’t move Japanese automotive art on and is instead a very commercially minded creation.  Honda can’t be blamed for that. 

Honda like every other manufacturer is being squeezed by the global crisis and sales in Japan have been depressed for many years.  The new life starts from 947,500 JPY and the standard engine returns a competitive 21KM/L so if anything is going to fly off the shelf then this could be the ticket.  

pastel

pastel

 

Diva

Diva

 

G-type

G-type

Honda Beat Successor

In Honda on October 13, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Suzuki and Daihatsu firmly lead the way in Kei(660cc) car sales with the Suzuki Wagon R currently in front as Japan’s best selling car.

KEI cars are designed to be cheap to buy, cheap to run and insanely practical for their size.  They have never been about out and out performance. 

Japanese low displacement Regulations stipulate that two types of 660cc engine can be manufactured to keep in line with the authorities.  Either a 54PS normally aspitrated or an ever so slightly turbocharged 64ps version.

Of course a huge tuning scene exists around KEI cars but their is only so much that one can safely extract from such a tiny engine.

Currently the closest you can get to a semi sporting experience is through Daihatsu’s 2 seater Copen, although it is a little soft and in fairness doesn’t really try to be anything but.

The glory days of sporting KEI was in the 90`s was when we had the 2 seater Honda Beat, Suzuki ( ridiculously named) Cappuccino and the quirkiest by far, the Mazda ( although designed by Suzuki) Autozam AZ1 complete with gullwing doors.  

Sadly the Japanese recession killed all these cars off pretty quickly as although they were not expensive to buy they represented zero practicality and could only ever be a second or third car.

The Honda and Suzuki were both Front Mid Engined But the AZ1 was a real midship, like a true thoroughbred. 

Of recent Honda has increased it’s investment in KEI car development and hopes to catch up with Daihatsu and Suzuki in the selling game.

It looks as if Honda are planning a new range of KEI automobiles and the word on the street is that a Successor to the Beat might be one of them. 

Lets hope so.

If the rumour is true then expect the car to have a normally aspirated 3 cylinder block but able to produce the equivalent turbocharged 64PS using Honda`s engine technology.  Although they do offer a turbo in their current LIFE shopping wagon,Honda does have a general aversion to all things forced induction.  

Hopefully other makers will join in the fascinating very low displacement sports market, certainly current economics may dictate so.   

Previous Generation Beat

Previous Generation Beat

The Wonderfully exciting AZ1

The Wonderfully exciting AZ1