Honda Small Car Concept Debut: Not Bad At All

When Honda released a statement late last year about wanting in on the small cheap car parade, I was afraid… Wait? Afraid? No! I’m PETRIFIED.

When Tata unveils the Nano at its expected price of US$2500, the car was damn awful. 660cc simplistic engine, fixed hatch, engine in the cabin, the non existence of brake booster, no AC, no everything! Money doesn’t lie, you pay for a peanut, you get a peanut. Honda even declared that they are not getting into the small cheap car parade. But late last year, they did the unthinkable and announced Honda is getting into the parade after all, following Toyota and Ford. I thought that Honda has lost it mentally… But it seems that I have to take it all back as Honda foray in the small cheap car parade are anything but cheap…

A compact compact

Dubbed the Small Concept Vehicle, as reported by, the car will be ready for emerging market in 2011. The car will be available initially in India and Thailand first, but I suspect it will be available for the rest of ASEAN as well, especially Indonesia & Malaysia.

The car take heavy design cue from CR-Z, CR-V, and Freed. The A pillar is definitely CR-Z, with the distinct bonnet over the pillar. The side profile is taken straight from CR-V coupe like silhouette. The rear hatch and the side crease is taken from the Freed, which makes the car looks like a short Freed from the quarter rear view.

Coupe like design, but it’s a four door

Not much is given technically, but the car is going to be powered with an extensive line of engines, topping at 1.2L. Obviously Honda has the 660cc option from its Keii car line, and the 1.3L engine from the new L series. But what about the 1.2L?

What gives me a sigh of relief is that the car is priced around 500k Rupee or about US$10K. Compare that to Tata Nano base price of US$2500, and you’ll understand why Honda still kept its promise not going in with the small and cheap parade. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud Tata intention of making the Nano accessible to every layer of society, a car for every family. However, making it cheap enough by leaving out safety is a big no no. Leaving out the brake booster? Come on… This is not a bike, this is a car. Braking a 3 KG bike is different than braking a 500 KG car. Okay, I didn’t know the Nano weight, but even if the car only weighs 200 KG, it’s still a hundred times heavier than a bike.

The rear door handle is flushed with the body panel

At around US$10K, Honda Small Concept will definitely include better safety equipment than the Nano. Given that in Indonesia the Fit/Jazz comes in at US$19K, the new Small Concept will fit right in below it. After tax and miscellaneous, the Small Concept could be priced at US$12-14K in Indonesia, and that’s still considered cheap.

This car and a Freed would make a killer combo of small runabout for the office and compact hauler for the family.


Autoblog: Honda new concept unveiled at New Delhi show

Autonews: Honda Small Concept will be priced below US$11K

Scans and Data From Honda CR-Z Japanese Brochure

One Japanese reader from Temple of VTEC has kindly scanned the soon to be released Honda Freed and what a chaos it instills. Click the link for the complete brochure scans.

The official data shows that the CR-Z will be using a 1.5L engine + electric motor producing a combined power of 128 ps, consisting of 114 ps gas engine and 14 ps electric motor. A bit… Less than expected, because this car is touted as a “sporty hybrid” by Honda. It’s not sporty… It’s… Just adequate… It should be dubbed an adequately sporty hybrid.

Scans from the official brochure

Many TOV readers are aflamed with the official data, stating that the power figure is diminutive/minuscule/any fancy term for small. So am I actually, but there is one relevant data that the brochure still doesn’t divulge… The car’s weight…

Dimension wise, the car is quite unique. It’s longer than the Fit, wider, lower, but has a shorter wheelbase.

Fit dimension:

  • Height : 1525 mm
  • Width : 1695 mm
  • Length : 3900 mm
  • Wheelbase : 2500 mm
  • Weight (heaviest trim FF + CVT): 1100 KG

CR-Z dimension:

  • Height : 1395 mm
  • Width : 1740 mm
  • Length : 4080 mm
  • Wheelbase : 24350 mm
  • Weight: ?

So a rough calculation dimensionally resulted in the CR-Z having quite less footprint than the Fit, which should means less weight. But the additional weight of the engine + motor and battery pack should give the car an extra weight that degrades its performance.

On a lighter note, even if the CR-Z will weigh roughly as the Fit, the hybrid engine should give quite a performance. The 120 ps engine in Fit Sport/RS is actually quite peppy and delivers quite a kick if you push it VTEC style. The electric motor on the CR-Z should deliver the much needed extra torque down low.

The confirmed trim level shows that the CR-Z will be available in two trim, the fancy Alpha and Beta trim… Optionally it will have the moonroof option and LED lighting. Interior wise, it’s very very upscale.

A fried of mine who didn’t share my sentiment for CR-Z lack of excessive power stated that the CR-Z main selling point is its looks… True that… The CR-Z is what the Insight 1.0 should have been but edgier. But I still want my CR-Z Type R though!

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.


Honda global: Tokyo Motor Show Report

Temple of VTEC: Honda Overview Photos

Freed + Hybrid = 2011!

You read that right, Honda is going to release a hybrid version of Freed in 2011! The news couldn’t be more official than official as current Honda President, Takanobu Ito himself told Nikkei on a newspaper interview.

Here’s an excerpt from which covers the news.

The company intends to add a variety of hybrid models in the near future, including the CR-Z, a sporty hybrid, in February and a hybrid version of its Fit subcompact by the end of 2010. For the hybrid minivan expected as early as 2011, the company plans to launch a hybrid version of its mainstay Freed.

Fuel efficiency has been what matters most in hybrid vehicles, but what is required from now on is a balance among economy, fuel efficiency and price,” Ito said, expressing a desire to offer a wide variety of hybrids to customers. In developing electric cars, Honda must first meet California’s Zero Emission Vehicle regulation, which is considered the toughest in the world, Ito said.

Honda is going full force of introducing hybrid. Beginning with Insight 2.0, Honda is introducing (finally) hybrid technology to sub compacts which should make available these fuel sippers to the masses. Fit hybrid should be a no brainer as it will come in 2010 (an old news actually, I just didn’t have the time to post it), but the news about Freed being hybridized is welcoming news indeed. The Fit hybrid should cater to the newly weds, and the Freed hybrid caters to the new family.

How much fuel efficient the new Freed hybrid? Nobody knows… But according to Civic to Civic Hybrid, fuel efficiency increases up to 20% on highway (according to American Honda Motor EPA rating). Now, off course the price will also get an increase as well, but by how much? 30% should be warranted, and the cost of investment buying the hybrid version should be justified in just 3 years time (I randomly pick a long safe time).

A moment of palm to the face should be warranted because… Hey, Freed uses the same driving system as Fit, right down to the gearbox. So when Fit is going hybrid, why the same driving system shouldn’t fit into the Freed?

Honda also going to officially participate in the off again on again electric car battle inthe United States. Before, it was politic that kills Honda EV+ back in 2000, and now, with a swift slap from lady serendipity… It’s politic again that brings back the electric car war. The Governator has signed California zero emission vehicle regulation that warrants fat tax deduction for zero emission vehicle… Which are electric cars by the way.

So, the million dollar and two cent question is… Will we get it? (as in we + 2009 = South East Asia). Freed, again, as of today is still in high demand in Indonesia. Waiting list has reached November, and for some colors the waiting period has reached December. So, the rest of ASEAN should wait patiently until at the very least demand cools down before Honda starts to make the Freed available in your countries… Wait, that didn’t answer the question… Okay, will we get a hybrid Freed? It depends whether we get a hybrid Fit/Jazz or not. Producing a car is simple. You cast the engine, the chassis, and the sheet metal, assemble the parts and voila, a car. With a hybrid… Not so much.

Producing or even assembling a hybrid needs another level of experience which no SE Asia countries ever met. I’ve read complaint about Hyundai H-1 driver got a mild shock because of improper battery shielding, and that’s while he was opening the driver’s door … Now imagine a shock from a hybrid battery that holds more than 10 times the charge of a regular car battery. Thus, higher care and quality control must be put in place for a hybrid to be produced or even assembled. Off course, if Honda going to make the hybrid Freed affordable, economy in scale must be put in place… And that means having SE Asia a piece of the Freed hybrid.

We’ll see what happened  when the Fit hybrid is released… If we get a Jazz hybrid, then, you know that we will get a Freed hybrid.

Source: Freed Hybrid in 2011

CR-Z & Fit Hybrid Confirmed Next Year

Argh, how can I miss this one… It’s official, Honda revival of the CR-X and Insight 1.0 is heading our way *at least in Japan* in February 2010. The CR-Z which was announced late 2007 will be available to Japanese market early next year, claiming “sporty Hybrid” as its tagline. The Fit will also receives a Hybrid trim line, and completes Honda hybrid offering as one of the entry level hybrid model. The Fit hybrid still have no definitive release date, but expect it to be launched by the end of 2010.

Bigger hybrids are in plan, but it’s still up in the air where the engine will head to. Well, considering Honda cancels implementing Diesel engine to their premium Acura line, it’s a safe bet that the bigger hybrids will be found inside Acura’s engine bays in the near future.

On related news, the Insight is fairing very well in Japan. The car manage to get number 3 most selling car for the month of May just behind Honda venerable favorites, the Fit. Despite the overall decrease in automobile demand in Japan, most small and efficient cars still fares the best.


Honda confirms two more hybrids for next year

Insight and Fit leads Honda domestic sales

CR-Z design sheet

Honda Head Honcho: Hybrid War Is Beginning, Civic Hybrid Was A Mistake

Well, finally the head honcho at Honda Japan has declared an all out hybrid war and stating that Civic Hybrid was a mistake. Starting 2009, Honda will release an all new dedicated hybrid car like Toyota Prius, no longer the hybrid car is based off an existing car.

This actually a long awaited news personally for me… For the longest time I feel that Honda is making a mistake with introducing Civic Hybrid. Toyota Prius as a dedicated hybrid car is instantaneously recognizable as a hybrid car, unlike the “hybrid in disguise” of Civic Hybrid. From marketing point of view, Prius drivers will get a direct recognition of being “environmentally conscious” because the car looks different, and thus people can directly associate it with hybrid. The Civic Hybrid on the other hand… Looks like a Civic, a car that is commonly associated as… Common.

Here are some screenshots of the an existing mule of the supposedly dedicated hybrid.

global hybrid face

global hybrid back

As you can see, Honda’s commitment to introduce a dedicated hybrid is in full steam. Above are pictures of a frankensteined Honda Fit front end on Honda Airwave chassis taken sometimes mid 2007, supposedly tested using the all new hybrid engine. Pictures are taken from… Motor Trend…

Honda also introduced CR-Z, a concept car at 40th Tokyo Motor Show. The car will be gas-electric hybrid, and aimed at performance oriented market… It has the looks, but the gas-electric engine will be something less desired from performance point of view.

Honda CR-Z
Honda supposedly dead serious about the hybrid war. In 2009 the car that is being tested with the frankensteined Fit/Airwave will be available worldwide according to Honda CEO year end speech of 2006, and the car will be cheaper than the current Civic Hybrid. The CR-Z however remains a mystery regarding of its mass production date although Takeo Fukui has mentioned that the car is on its way to production. Probably Honda will deliver a one-two punch by delivering two hybrids at the same time in 2009. The Prius fighter and the CR-Z.

The Prius Fighter, supposedly sized bigger than the Fit but smaller than the Civic will be priced accordingly… Someway between the Fit and the Civic. In America, Civic Hybrid is US$22.000ish, and the new hybrid car supposed to be less than that.

Edited… Fixed some release schedule error, I was so sleepy when typing the entry.