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2010 Honda Insight

Honda CR-Z

2010 Toyota Prius
Honda still can't find the magic recipe to beat the Prius

When it comes to hybrid vehicles, it appears that Honda just can't catch a break. Its first generation Insight hybrid was the first such vehicle to hit American soil a decade ago, however, the vehicle was a sales failure. Honda went on to develop a Civic Hybrid which hasn't exactly been a Prius competitor in terms of sales and the company's Accord Hybrid, like the Insight before it, failed in the marketplace.

Honda looked to go after Toyota's Prius again with a larger, second generation Insight. However, Honda again ran into a brick wall. Honda managed to undercut the Prius by a few thousand dollars, but also did so with a much smaller vehicle that was not as fast, not as tech-laden, and not nearly as fuel efficient as the third-generation Prius. When it comes to actual vehicle sales, the numbers don't lie. Honda sold roughly 20,500 Insights during 2009 in the U.S. -- Toyota, on the other hand, sold nearly 140,000 Prius hybrids.

"Are we happy with how sales are going? No, we're not happy," said American Honda executive VP John Mendel.

Faced with the prospect of another dud in the hybrid marketplace, Honda chief Takanobu Ito is calling on his engineers to develop a vehicle that will "Out Prius" the Prius according to Automotive News. Ito wants a hybrid that will be able to exceed the stellar fuel economy ratings of Toyota's crown jewel. Toyota's Prius is rated at 50 mpg (city/highway combined) while the smaller Insight is rated at just 41 mpg (city/highway combined).

"We want to develop and expand our hybrids," said Ito earlier this month in Detroit. "We made some major sacrifices to shift people and resources to do that."

While Honda looks like it will have its hands full developing a vehicle to topple the Prius, it has also just launched a new "sporty" hybrid aimed at enthusiasts. The CR-Z can be had with a manual transmission, but fuel economy junkies should be warned -- choosing to the manual will result in a serious hit to city fuel economy. A CR-Z equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be rated at 36/38 mpg (city/highway). Opting for the six-speed manual transmission, however, will cut those numbers to 31/37 mpg.

For comparison, a Mini Cooper (six-speed manual) gets 28/37 mpg without the need for hybrid components.



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RE: How about...
By Iaiken on 1/25/2010 1:52:58 PM , Rating: 2
I've driven one and I prefer my 06 Mini JCW hands down any day of the week. Out of the box, it was quicker in the turns, faster off the line and faster down the straights.

Don't get me wrong, I was in the market for an S2000 when I was looking for my fun car, but it is a RWD cab with a gutless power/torque curves that make me laugh. I was deliberately trying to break the back end loose and the car just wasn't able to even after I disabled the TCS and DSC.

So I guess your right about the mistaken handling comparison, as it handles more like a Civic because no matter what you do the car understeers. Though I'd also counter that you haven't driven a Mustang in a while...

When you look at other sports offerings in the same price, the S2000 is a loser, no contest:

- Genesis Coupe GT
- New Camaro
- Mini Cooper JCW Cabrio
- 2005+ Mustang
- BMW Z4 3.0

The only car it actually (barely) beats for performance is the Miata and the Mazda came in at over $12,000 less. Even then, the little Mazda has enough torque that you can have a little fun in the turns.

You don't have to look very far to see that the 600 or so people who bought S2000's in 2009 got taken for a ride.


RE: How about...
By steven975 on 1/25/2010 2:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
you should be comparing the early models. Honda nannied the S2K in 2006+ and completely changed the way they handle. The early models have extremely neutral handling, and oversteer is very easy to induce.


RE: How about...
By Keeir on 1/25/2010 2:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
No one could really fault you for disliking a 1999 in 2007-2009.

Honda choose not to put the RD money to keep the S2000 compeditive.

However, this doesn't change the facts that between 2000-2004, the S2000 really -was- a good sports car.


RE: How about...
By FITCamaro on 1/25/2010 2:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
Its not bad for Autocross but beyond that its worthless. Not enough power to keep up in the straights. Hell a buddy of mine who autocrosses his GTO beats them easily with nearly twice the weight. Course he's also beaten some well driven G37 Coupes.


RE: How about...
By Keeir on 1/25/2010 3:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
I assume your talking about the 2005 GTO with the LS2 engine?

No offense, Fit, but your proving my point.

Honda -had- a good sports car, that they just stopped caring about.

In 2000, a ~237 hp 2.0 Liter natural aspirated 4 was an amazing thing.

In 2005, not so much so.

Today, yawn.


RE: How about...
By omnicronx on 1/25/2010 2:15:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, this doesn't change the facts that between 2000-2004, the S2000 really -was- a good sports car.
Compared to what? It was a 50k+ sports car in the same market as other high end imports in which it did not really compete with.

And as I said with my other post, what the **** was up with the carpet center console? Carpet does not belong in the center console of a 50k vehicle PERIOD!


RE: How about...
By steven975 on 1/25/2010 2:17:57 PM , Rating: 2
They were $32K at intro. 2 years later the console wasn't carpet anymore and the back window wasn't plastic anymore.

carpet is softer than hard plastic, anyway.


RE: How about...
By omnicronx on 1/25/2010 2:30:50 PM , Rating: 2
Man, I didnt realize the variance was so huge compared to Canadian pricing. I know we always pay more for cars, but the difference is 15k+.. The S2000 sold for over 50k in Canada in 04-05..

That being said, who cares if carpet is softer than hard plastic, a sponge is softer than carpet and I don't see too many sponge based center consoles.

Unless its a caddy from the 70's/80's or you are a pimp, carpet has no place in this portion of a car.


RE: How about...
By steven975 on 1/25/2010 2:14:08 PM , Rating: 2
the 2009 mini JCW, from rsportscars.com, has the following straight-line stats...

0-60 6.2 secs
0-1320ft 14.5 secs

S2000 from Motor Trend
0-60: 5.4
0-1320ft 13.8 secs @101mph

Don't think TCS and DSC are ever totally disabled on the 2006+ models, so that doesn't shock me.


RE: How about...
By Iaiken on 1/25/2010 3:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
Way to cherry pick your numbers. :P

The 6.2 second 0-60 on both rsportscars.com and Motor Trend are both manufacturers estimates .

The 2009 JCW Clubman as tested by Motor Trend was ripping along in 5.7 and it's the exact same power plant in a 400lb heavier car.

The generally accepted stock 2009 JCW 0-60 run time from Alta and M7 Tuning is 5.1-5.2 seconds.

Next time try to understand what you read...

Even my old 06 factory JCW was hitting the 5.4 mark.

Finally, there are different JCW's... Factory JCW and the Cooper S JCW upgrade.
The JCW upgrade offers about 10hp less and 12ftlbs fewer than the Factory JCW. The factory car also includes the JCW aero kit, JCW suspenssion, JCW by Brembo brakes and the light weight JCW challenge wheels which have to be purchased separately on the Cooper S upgrade.

The presence or absence of the panoramic moon roof (400lbs of glass and metal and reinforcements) can also mess with the 0-60 times.

I'll buy that the TCS and DSC cannot be totally disabled, my Minis DSC has 3 modes (On, light & off) and you have to hold down the DSC toggle while you are starting the car to actually turn it all the way off.


RE: How about...
By Spuke on 1/29/2010 12:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
All stats from Car and Driver. Trying to make it as close to apples/apples comparison as possible.

2004 Honda S2000
0-60: 5.4 sec
1/4: 14.1@97mph

2004 Mini Cooper S JCW
0-60: 6.4 sec
1/4: 14.7@95mph

You really should compare similar model year cars but I'll throw in some other Coopers and S2000's for sh!ts and giggles.

2006 Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works GP
0-60: 5.9 sec
1/4: 14.5@98mph

2008 Honda S2000 CR
0-60: 5.7 sec
1/4: 14.4@99mph

2009 Mini Cooper S JCW Convertible
0-60: 6.3 sec
1/4: 14.9@96mph

The cars can be close depending on the models chosen. The Mini's problem seems to be off the line traction most likely because of FWD weight transfer. Regardless, the S2000 won't run away from a Cooper S.


RE: How about...
By Spivonious on 1/25/2010 4:07:25 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares about straight-line speed? Cars are more fun in corners.


RE: How about...
By lelias2k on 1/25/2010 6:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I was deliberately trying to break the back end loose and the car just wasn't able to even after I disabled the TCS and DSC.


Seriously? I had a 2004 RX-8 which was completely anemic when it comes to torque and I went through my rear tires in less than 4k miles... I could run doughnuts all day with it without a problem.

That said, it handled superbly and I would never in a million years exchange it for a Mustang...

Maybe you test drove a lemon?


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