Posts Tagged ‘Fuel’

Honda’s alternative hybrid

Posted on June 29th, 2011 by Rob Marshall

Why does Honda, the innovative British and Japanese manufacturer, suffer from such a geriatric ‘blue rinse’ image in the UK?  I appreciate that there are numerous drivers on our roads (usually positioned in the middle lane of your nearest motorway) that enjoy the utmost dependability from their Accords, Jazzes and Legends. However, a strong, younger fan base is often overlooked, which extols the virtues of high-performance Hondas, including Civics, NSXs and S2000s. Whenever various British automotive reliability surveys are published, it is invariably Honda models that percolate to the top. Plus, in my four years of acting as GEM’s technical consultant, I cannot recall a single mechanical fault that involved a Honda.

It seems that its innovative streak is underplayed too. The original Honda Insight, of the late 1990s, was one of the first hybrid models sold in the UK and, possibly due to Toyota’s commercial success with its equally expensive Prius, many people tended to associate the technology with being the antithesis of enjoyable motoring. Yet, Honda is striving to change this otherwise inaccurate perception, by proving that a hybrid car can be fun to drive. Therefore, the company invited members of the media to Northampton’s Rockingham Motor Speedway, to preview its latest effort.

Honda’s alternative hybridThe European arm of Mugen, the Japanese tuning company that was established, in 1973, by the son of Honda Motor Company’s founder, has concentrated its developments on the CR-Z sports coupé to create the CR-Z Mugen, which the company says is ‘The Hottest Hybrid Yet’. By taking the standard 1.5-litre CR-Z engine, strengthening it internally and bolting a single supercharger in place, the original car’s power output has been hiked by over 60% to almost 200bhp. This level of power is augmented by Honda’s electric Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) engine, enhanced and renamed iCF for the Mugen application.

Honda’s alternative hybrid                               

Unsurprisingly, the prototype model differs markedly to the standard offering. The addition of a Mugen body kit and the company’s 17.0-inch forged alloy rims that allow wider tyres to be fitted, without increasing weight, lowered suspension that controls body roll and aids the car’s chassis dynamics overall, and an extremely vocal sports exhaust create a major impression. Inside, the driver sinks low into the figure-hugging Recaro race-type seats, in a largely ‘stock‘ interior, from which the missing rear seats are part of the car’s weight-shedding programme.

On the straights at Rockingham, the CR-Z Mugen behaves much as a Civic Type R would, the tachometer needle wrapping around its dial with surprising ease, in any gear ratio. The power is delivered seamlessly across a wide rev-range. The key advantage of combining a supercharger, with the instant torque of an electric motor is the linearity of the power graph, which belies the petrol engine‘s relatively small capacity.

On tighter corners, it was expected that the front-wheel-drive car’s stance would be biased towards understeer but the Mugen-tuned dampers and springs maintained a neutral balance, even when the Bridgestone tyres were approaching their grip limits. The standard 6-speed manual transmission was a real delight to use, its lever working speedily across the gate, without protest.

The Verdict?

Honda wants to know if people would buy it? Personally, I would love a CR-Z Mugen. This ‘one-off’ has cost Honda and Mugen Euro around £150,000 to make (the carbon-fibre doors alone are worth £10,000 for the pair) and the showroom alternative, should it arrive, would be somewhat simpler and less costly (probably a target price of £30,000 each). The car is on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July and Honda anticipates making a launch announcement for a limited production version soon afterwards. If the car appeals to you, then register your interest at your local Honda dealership and you too might be able to join the Honda-Mugen club.

Loving my diesel car and extending my TBF!

Posted on February 25th, 2011 by GEM Motoring Assist

It’s absolutely no wonder the price of fuel is set to rise and I don’t doubt this is only the beginning.  The troubles in the Middle East are deeply worrying making the cost of fuel pale into insignificance in the scheme of things, but since there is not a lot we can do as individuals, reducing our fuel consumption will put a little less strain on our pockets.


A year ago, I abandoned the petrol engine and boy, am I glad.  Fuelled by a pathetic return of around 17 mpg on my Grand Scenic auto, I decided that a diesel was the way to go when I bought my much yearned for Peugeot 308CC.  It was so important to me that I waited over 6 months for second hand model to become available.

Since then, I have marvelled at how much less often I have had to stand on a chilly forecourt with my hands turning to blocks of ice as I wait for the tank to fill – a job that has got to be one of the most inconvenient when running a car?  I am now, positively laughing.  I have only had to fill my tank 3 times in the last 10 weeks and I’ve still got 150 ‘round town’ miles to go, according to my on- board computer.

I don’t know exactly how many miles to the gallon I am getting, but it’s got to be in the region of 30+ or so round town.  Not bad for a 2 litre auto engine? And if I now start to follow some of GEMs tips and advice on reducing my fuel consumption, I might be able to stretch my TBF (time between fill ups) by another week or so.

For anyone interested in cutting down their TBF, have a look at GEMs tips on saving fuel as covered by the Telegraph online  – or why not let us know below if you’ve get any further ideas on how to save fuel?

On the other hand, whilst it’s very tempting to have as much TBF as possible, I would however suggest you consider keeping your tank topped up and never going beyond a quarter full.  With the trouble in the Gulf States growing by the day, we might anticipate that there will be some sort of fuel supply crisis around the corner.  Having witnessed fuel shortages in the past, desperately searching for a garage and queuing up for a measly £10 worth of rationed fuel with hundreds of irate customers is not something I want to contemplate right now.

By keeping topped up, if the worst should happen, you’ll hopefully have at least half a tank of petrol to use whilst following GEM’s fuel saving tips.