Honda Hotness Is Coming Back?

2008 was a great year for Honda fans and maybe even for automotive scene in general. Just imagine this, Honda, a conservative company who swears on sensibility and quality is throwing those notions away for a V8 rear wheel luxury sedan and a V10 powered super car. The automotive scene roars with high expectations. Spy photos of the rear wheel sedan test car is everywhere and the super car already making runs on a race track. Alas, comes 2009 and demand for automotive products dwindles as most sought after cars are econoboxes. Honda new President, Takanobu Ito back then changed his tune about the new cars and tells the fans and the scene to go “enjoy yourself” (there’s a new profanity filter in effect). So everything was scrapped, and all hopes out the window.

Denied luxury: The canceled mule of the FR Luxury Sedan

Rumors from inside automotive industry said that the V8 rear wheel luxury sedan which was destined to go to Acura division was a great car one that should put Honda luxury division on par with tier 1 luxury marque. While the super car lives on as a special fielded race car on Japan’s most prestigious racing event, the Super GT and won it. So as you can read, it’s very unfortunate for Honda to cancels both of these cars altogether.

Denied performance: Reportedly, this car doesn’t even consider GT-R and LF-A as competition

But this morning, birds are chirping beautifully on my front porch, the wind blows softly and the sun rose with a hint of blue and orange altogether. While I browsed Autoblog and Temple of VTEC the next minute, I was shocked out of my pants that Takanobu Ito in a way hints a little hope of a super car comeback after Honda discontinued the NSX. Apparently, Takanobu Ito was interviewed in Japan and some reporters asked if Honda would make a road going version of the super car that won the Super GT.

Ito’s answer for the question was “I have something in mind”. Now for those who don’t know Takanobu Ito, this guy is all straight as an arrow kind of leader. He always answers question in a definite way, yes or no and that’s that. For Ito to answer “having something in mind” well, it’s still ambiguous but having something is better than nothing right?

Such a tease: “I have something in mind”

Okay, so the news came from a French auto news site, which might make some little mistranslation (from Japanese to French to English). However, according to Temple of VTEC news section;Yahoo Japan and Asahi Shimbun also confirms and clearly stated that Takanobu Ito greenlight the project once again. Asahi Shimbun which post the news in English also mentions that Ito hints at making two sports car, the affordable and high performance… *faints*…

For those who don’t know, this is actually earth shattering news. Honda currently has no true performance sports car in its lineup, well, sure there’s the Civic Type R, but it’s more of a pedestrian car with souped up engine. Honda Prelude ends its production in 2001, Honda NSX ended in 2005, Honda Integra ended in 2007 and finally Honda S2000 ended in 2009. What came from the demise of those cars? Hybrids and lots of it. Civic Hybrid, Insight 2.0, CR-Z, and Fit Hybrid, not to mention Freed Hybrid and next generation Accord with Honda next generation hybrid system.

The shift from hardcore to green for some was considered too rough as there are no transition product in between. It’s quite understandable actually, as technology to produce performance with fuel economy wasn’t available yet. The  2010 CR-Z was Honda answer to this and although the blend of performance and fuel economy is good enough, as usual,  some consumers demand more… Well, to be fair… This particular consumer is too accustomed to huge ass performance gas guzzler 2 door sports car that’s bigger than a Honda Fit. Still, the CR-Z receives acclaims and accolades in a place where sensibility is praised.

But remember folks, Honda has set its sight straight in the green line and we’re not talking about money. Ever since the green revolution in the late 00′ Honda has been making fuel sipper as priority. So when you think about Takanobu Ito statement, don’t forget to add the green juice. Honda has fielded NSX with KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System, a form of hardcore hybrid system for racing) as a test bed for SuperGT 2012 rule change that mandates smaller engine and a hybrid system. It’s unclear whether this will be applied to Honda super car but you can be sure Honda will put every single piece of technology in its super car.

Front engine – KERS NSX test car: notice the exhaust tip on the side skirt?

Whatever it is Honda… We are awaiting with arms wide open, but until this car shows up in the real world, I’m putting a question mark on the title. We’ve been burned before Ito-san, and I won’t let my heart be broken the fourth time.

Source:

Temple of VTEC: Ito san changing his tune about NSX/HSV

Yahoo Japan: NSX development to resume (Japanese)

Asahi Shimbun: Honda to develop high performance sports car

SuperGT: 2012 KERS rule

Honda Tokyo Motor Show Summary: All Hail Electric Cars!

Honda just announced an overview of their display on the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, and what an overview it is. Like any all Japanese automaker in the show, hybrid and electric cars are making a strong showing… Too strong for my taste actually, but thank goodness Honda have some traditional gas burning ass kicking cars in the show as well.

Honda does bring out a slew of motorbikes, but for this entry I’m just going to cover the four wheel aspect of Honda TMS booth (I’m already ditching my lunch break to write this)… So why I’m writing a news that’s been reported to death by any online news media? Because I put in my usual witty comments and explanatory behind the news, so enjoy!

Strong Hybrid Front

Leading the charge on the hybrid front is the long waited CR-Z. Finally Honda unveils in the flesh, a near production ready CR-Z to the masses. It looks very much like the concept, albeit with toned down styling. Still though, it’s a striking model for a hybrid.

Here I am baby!

Honda dubs the car as the “fun hybrid” (actually, it’s me who dubbed it). It supposedly brings Honda “fun to drive” trait, offering driving responsiveness of a sport car to a hybrid… Honda 2007 showing of CR-Z mentions about the meaning of the term CR-Z… Compact Renaissance Zero… So is this car going to revolutionize the compact scene? It’s hard to imagine how. Honda explicitly mentions light weight on the car’s press release back in 2007, something that can be attributed to good power to weight ratio. However, with Honda most powerful compact hybrid engine producing only 115ps (Civic Hybrid)… It’s… Hard to say… Let’s just wait for its drivetrain info. Interior wise, it’s as ready as waiting the sun at 4 in the morning. You know it’s coming soon, and you know how bright the sun would be a couple hours down the road… For pictures of the interior, click the Temple of VTEC link down below.

Hot on the heels of hybrid cars, Honda unveils a 6 seater hybrid concept. Dubbed the Skydeck, the CR-Z front end look alikeness is uncanny, indicating that the car will share the same platform. Still a concept though, this car brings sensibility and load factor to a hybrid. The car features scissor front doors and below the chassis sliding door mechanism, but it will definitely be gone if the Skydeck hits the production. But seriously… Honda will definitely made this.

Call me CR-L for Long

On the electric side of anything four wheel, Honda isn’t making any ground breaking car like Nissan Leaf. Instead, Honda is bringing back the original 1986 Honda City concept, complete with a mini runabout like the legendary Motocompo. Dubbed the EV-N, this is Honda second full electric car after the EV+ that went on special lease in the United State back in 1997. The EV-N is a two door electric car that takes retro design cue to the extreme…. Extremely extreme. Now wait… Before you guys said “The car looks like an old Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper crashed together and the guy in the repair shop use too much sanding” The car is actually a homage to Honda very first compact back in the late 60’s, the N360. You can see its distinctive raised headlights and the boxy design. The original mini is more roundish than the N360.

Seriously, I want to bite this car, it’s just too cute

From the look of it, the EV-N is a Keii car with dimension similar to Toyota IQ. The rear seat seems useless for an adult, and when the front seat slides backward, there’s no legroom for the rear seats (just like the IQ). EV-N electric theme goes up to its roof where Honda installed a solar panel… I wonder if the panels is usable if at all…


Hello grandpa: The original Honda N360

The coolest thing of all is the addition of U3-X on the EV-N. Like the 1986 Honda City, the EV-N has a “mini bike” stowed on its left passenger door. Honda City own Motocompo was already a marvel in engineering, and the U3-X tops the Motocompo and bring the term mini bike to the next level. The U3-X, unveiled before Tokyo Motor Show (which I didn’t have time to write on the blog) was a marvel of engineering. Imagine segway, and now imagine a unicycle… Now what if Segway made love to a unicycle and had an offspring? You got the U3-X.

U3-X snug comfortably on the door

Like the segway, you tilt your body to move, whether it’s forward, backward, sideways… Whaaa? Sideways? Yes, sideways. Albeit it looks like the U3-X has only one wheel, it actually comprises of small diameter wheels making up a bigger wheel. When the person shifts their weight sideways, the small wheels turns towards that direction. When the person shifts their weight forward or backward, the small wheel stops and rolls around its bigger wheel. When the person wants to make a turn, all the wheels turn… All thanks to Asimo. Weird eh, how a bipedal robot contributes to a self balancing unicycle… Psych! That’s that… Asimo self balancing gyro technology is installed on the U3-X (and you call yourself a gadget website).

The U3-X and EV-N are both a comeback from 1986 Honda City. The concept is that you park your car in a public parking building and use the compact bike stowed in the car to reach your final destination.

Civic Euro Returns Home

On the fuel burning front, Honda brings back FN2 Civic Euro hatch back home to Japan, and not to mess around with Civic heritage, it’s bringing the Civic Euro Type R. It’s going to be a pretty interesting battle between the type Rs… The FN2 Euro Civic was built using the Fit/Jazz platform, meaning pedestrian level suspension (McPherson strut & torsion beam) and hangar size cabin. Suspension wise, the Euro Civic is no match for the FD2 Civic. Power wise… It’s going to be an embarrassment as the Euro Civic Type R only produces 201ps while the FD2 Civic produces 225ps at full throttle.

Still though, the FN2 Euro Civic was built not with performance in mind. It’s bringing sensibility into a performance oriented car. The Fit/Jazz platform means ULTRA seat, the amazing fold up/down mechanism of the rear passenger seating. Loading a tall or wide objects are a cinch for the Civic Euro. The engine is also tuned to deliver better midrange, rather than the high strung spine tingling limit of the FD Civic… Me? I’m choosing Euro Civic Type R…

Then we have the StepWGN… and no, there’s no vowel there after the “e”. StepWGN is Honda mid-high model of people mover above Freed and below the Elysion. It’s size rivals the Elysion, but with more utilitarian design and features. The model shown on the show will be the third generation of StepWGN ever since the car introduction in 1996. The car has gone a loooong way from its initial “commercial van” history. Well, it’s not a commercial van per se, but it looks like one, tall, dinky, and had an overly long rear overhang, the design looks forced… Maksa deh…

Looks a lot like Nissan Serena

StepWGN came with flat floor running from front to back, and the first car (ever I think) to have wood panel as a floor… Wood panel for God sakes! And a funky sunroof that runs the spine of the car’s roof from front to back (optional off course). The car truly is a fresh take on an MPV. However, the usual Honda move, the third generation StepWGN brings something better.

The third generation design though was a shocker to many. The second generation StepWGN was applauded for not looking like any MPV on Japanese road with its angular design which translated well to Honda Freed. The new StepWGN now look indistinguishable compared to Nissan Serena and/or Toyota Voxy/Noah. The boxy design is simplistic in nature like canned corned beef. It looks the same from the outside, it’s not until you brace yourself for change and try the new brand on the next shelf… Sigh… Still though, expect some surprises on the car.

There’s a third row seat there, can you find it?

The first pictures of the car show a disappearing third row seat… Completely inside the floor… It might be an old technique as USDM Honda Odyssey has it for ages, but it’s a good thing to implement on the StepWGN. The second picture that grabs my attention is the size of the car. The car length grew from 4640mm to 4690mm, a healthy 50mm. But what’s a 50mm increase right? Well… The interior space of the car grew to 3095mm from a measly 2775mm that’s 320mm increase in interior length, and that’s crazy… That’s Honda. If you find seating comfortably on the second generation StepWGN, this new third generation will make you feel like seating inside a house… Well, a small house… Okay, a studio apartment, don’t be so antsy…

So that’s that on the four wheel side. Honda also introduce a new bike, the CB1100, a retro take to the CB line. An electric scooter under the legendary Cub name, some power products and Honda walk assistant.

Source:

Honda global: Tokyo Motor Show Report

Temple of VTEC: Honda Overview Photos

Newsflash: Freed Receives Very Minor Updates! Wha?

News so flashy it blinds your eyes! Honda Freed has received the best selling minivan status in Japan for 5 straight months from November 2008 to March 2009. Thus, Freed insane popularity in Japan has warrant Honda engineers to mildly refresh the car in a very discreet fashion. Very discreet actually, you cannot see it and it might just count as an addition of a trim level.

First and foremost, the Freed does receives an extra trim level dubbed “just selection”… According to Google effort. However, Yahoo Babel Fish translate the trim level as “jiyasutoserekushiyon”, and if you add some cing-cong language there, then “jiyasuto” is pronounced as “jay-su” or sounds like just and “serekushiyon” is pronounced as “se-rection” or sounds like selection (Japanese words doesn’t have “L”).  So, Google might have the edge here… Or Honda just have something about erection on Freed latest trim.

G Just Selection profile

Anyway, the “Just Selection” trims ads HID as a standard item for the G trim and the G Aero receives standard 15″ aluminum wheel and heated windshield wiper… Get it right folks, heated wiper, not heated windshield, although the heating element is on the windshield. The logic behind this is to make the wiper melts snow particles to reduce tearing effect of the blade on the long run.

You just don’t believe me do you…

As for the price, the standard G is priced at 1.699 Million Yen, while the “Just Selection” is priced at 1.794 Million Yen. A difference of 95K Yen or US$1K, and you get factory warranted HID lights, nice enough. The G Aero “Just Selection” have a different of 132K Yen or US$1.2K  from the basic G Aero… Nice enough, but I don’t think the heated wiper will help non snowing countries.

So a trim level addition? Pfft… Not worth having “minor update” status. Wait! I forgot to mention that all Freed captain seat version now have their second row seat to slide an extra 40mm/4cm, and map lights and grab rails as standard.

Now I wonder if Honda Indonesia will incorporate the above additions for the Freed imminent release… At least the grab rails and extra sliding distance, because both really adds another value towards the car. Safety while entering the car, and extra leg room if needed .

Oh, and for you Indonesian readers, I have some bad news about Freed’s price. I heard news from the street that the price is hovering steady at Rp 270 Million when the Freed launches. Wowza… At that price point you can get a brand new (old gen) Nissan Serena or Toyota Innova for less. But it’s still up in the air as it’s just a word from the street, and who knew… Miracles do come true you know, at least I’ve witnessed a couple.

Source:

Honda of Japan Official Freed Update Page

Refreshed Honda Stream is Coming

Soon, Honda of Japan will unveil its latest model refresh for the venerable Stream. The main Honda Stream website has a clickable picture of the refreshed car. Small, and only shows ¾ side view of the car, but it’s already enough to discern the changes Honda engineers made to the car, at least externally.

As you can see, below is the existing Honda Stream RSZ trim, and further below is the refreshed version.

The old Stream RSZ

Hot wheels! Literally

What can I say really, the “corporate face of Honda” steadily creeps in to every new cars. The “double bumper” style which originates on the FCX hydrogen powered car was first applied on the JDM Odyssey. Then it was applied to Honda rising star, the Insight. Finally, it found its way to the refreshed Stream. Kind of hate the look, as it doesn’t look symmetrical and personally, it distracts the aggressive line set by the previous model.

On a side note… Side note, the side, got it? <tried to hard> Side skirts are new, more aggressive styling and do justice to the aggressive looking Stream. The side panel blinkers also moved from the usual front side panels to side view mirrors.

The rear lights of RSZ received a black-white treatment, replacing the usual red-yellow setup. Very seldom car makers do this, the only car I know having this black-white light setup is Mitsubishi Grandis. Personally I found this setup, making the car very aggressive looking, because most ricers tint their rear lights to make it look cool (albeit stupid). Although it cannot be seen from the angle above, most likely the reverse and side blinkers are transparent with the bulb emitting the necessary colors, and just the housing which is tinted black.

Rims wise, the refreshed RSZ sports a luscious set of part-polished 5 star rims. If the photographer is not putting too much emphasis on the rim lighting, it seems that the car is using part-polished rims; meaning that the outward facing sides are polished from the factory, making the car bling from the get go.

Witty comments:

One thing is clear, Honda Stream is a design success, why? Because Honda didn’t do much in term of design changes. A revised bumper and rims are given for any refreshed car from Japan, but aside from that, the Stream receives little change from the original second generation model. Compared to the completely remodeled head light, rear lights and bumper on the first generation Stream refresh, this generation of Stream is a design go.

So there you have it, the refreshed Stream and all of its glory. Stay tune for a complete write up once the car is officially released by Honda… Soon.

Source:

Honda Stream official site (click on the big “new stream” sign)

Honda Freed Complete Review

Honda freed headerWith the ever rising global oil price, Honda finally unveils a minivan to answer the global demand for a people mover which adheres to current global energy crisis. Entering the compact minivan, on 29th of May 2008, Honda of Japan unveils its latest addition to the compact minivan car category, the curiously named Freed. A review from information established on a website might be corny, but you will find a lot of enlightening facts, especially if you can’t read Japanese Kanji. So, a complete paper review based and witty comments from yours truly, after the click. Continue reading

Honda Freed Release Date + New Picture

Straight out of Honda of Japan website, a second teaser picture of the new Honda Freed, a 7-8 seater minivan that is due out at 29th of May… In Japan. There’s not much information yet for the car in question, but with less than a week away from its unveiling… We can wait. Bigger picture complete with the first interior picture + more witty comments after the click.

Continue reading

Honda Freed, A New Small MPV From Honda (Updated!)

One teaser picture and a bucket load of gossip, that’s right, Honda is bringing out what seems to be an all new entry level 7 seater in Japan at least, this end of May. As it is right now there are only speculations and idle chatter. More comparison pictures and witty comments after the click. Now with pictures from Winding Road.com, it’s official, the car has a two tier dash! Continue reading