Posts Tagged ‘hybrid’

How to Transform Your Boring Honda CR-Z into a Hot-Rod

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

2014 Honda CR-Z HPD Supercharger Kit

It didn’t come as a surprise earlier this year when Honda Europe announced that they’d stop offering the Honda CR-Z next year. The car has always suffered from a textbook case of identity crisis… Classified as a “sport hybrid coupe”, it’s not quite efficient enough for green drivers and not quite fun enough for sporty ones. While it won numerous awards in its first year, since then the only thing it’s had going for it is its extremely affordable price tag, with the 2014 model starting at just $20,785.

Now, Honda has finally released a solution to the CR-Z’s zestlessness in the form of a supercharger kit from Honda Performance Development (HPD). We say ‘finally’ because the Japanese automaker first promised this kit nearly a year ago at last year’s SEMA Motor Show in LA. So it’s a long time coming.

The new Honda CR-Z supercharger kit will add quite a bit of oomph to the otherwise plain hybrid coupe, both aesthetically and mechanically. The 2014 Honda CR-Z comes stock with a 1.5L petrol engine that outputs 130hp. The supercharger kit increases that output up to 197hp – 67hp more than the normal engine – which should yield a noticeable improvement in the fun department.

Honda Performance Development CR-Z Kit

Along with the supercharger itself, HPD’s kit will achieve its power boost by retuning the CR-Z’s ECU calibration (which you have to do with any supercharger) and adding a plethora of enhancements under the hood. An air-to-air intercooler, a dedicated motor blower and a high-performance air filter system, along with HPD’s custom high-flow fuel injectors, all help the over-tuned CR-Z run as clean and sharply as possible. Best of all, the supercharged CR-Z will still be able to meet CARB’s strict AT-PZEV regulations.

In addition to the technology surrounding the supercharger, the HPD kit will include other sporty upgrades throughout the chassis. These include performance dampers, stiffened springs and larger brake discs, along with an optional sports clutch for extra responsive driving.

No supercharger kit would be complete without visual add-ons, and Honda Performance Development hasn’t failed to deliver the aesthetics. The CR-Z’s supercharger kit makes the coupe more likely to turn heads with slick HPD badging, a rear diffuser, sports exhaust, front and rear spoilers and custom-designed 18-inch alloy wheels to top it all off.

Even though you’ll always sacrifice a decent chunk of fuel economy with any supercharger, the hybrid hatchback was never really up there with the likes of the Toyota Prius to begin with. However, you don’t have to worry about messing up your car like you do with most aftermarket add-ons; Honda is installing the HPD kit at their own dealerships, so it won’t have any effect on your warranty.

The downside is that Honda still hasn’t decided whether or not the kit can be used with next year’s CR-Z. As of now, only the 2010 to 2014 model years are eligible for the upgrade. That could change in a few months, though, as Honda continues testing the kit with the 2015MY.


Lexus Debuts Turbocharged NX Crossover, Smaller Model Yet to Come

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, July 24th, 2014

There’s been so much going on this summer with every major automaker that we constantly find ourselves unable to cover some of the smaller, but still very important pieces of Japanese car news. So, today we’re going to catch up with Lexus to see what’s been happening with Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus. More specifically, we’re going to look at the launch of their new Lexus NX crossover, and what it could mean for the brand’s future.

Lexus NX Debuts w/ First Turbo Engine

2015 Lexus NX F-Sport

You’ve probably already heard about the new Lexus NX compact premium crossover, which slots below the Lexus RX in the luxury marque’s lineup. But, you might not fully appreciate what this new premium offering means for the world’s largest Japanese automaker. Not only will the NX serve as Toyota’s long-awaited entry into the premium crossover segment, it’s also their first car, premium or otherwise, to make use of a turbocharged engine. The baseline NX 200t trim in the US uses a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine capable of 235hp.

Of course, if turbocharging isn’t your thing, there’ll be a less-powerful-but-more-efficient Lexus NX 300h available which comes with a 2.5L petrol engine. The engine is configured for four-wheel drive and paired with a high-performance electric motor in the rear of the vehicle. This is the same hybrid powertrain as seen in the Lexus IS 300h, just FYI.

Even though the Lexus NX crossover hasn’t hit dealership floors yet (it’s expected to launch around October), it’s already received rave reviews from lucky first-drivers all over the blogosphere. With Lexus’ European sales already on the up and up, this new Euro-targeted luxury offering is sure to be a longtime success.

Possible Lexus Sub-Compact to Slot Below NX

2014 Audi A1 Subcompact

Believe it or not, Lexus is so excited about their new NX crossover that they’re already considering a similarly styled sub-compact to slot below it in their lineup. At least, that’s what rumors would have us believe.

The story comes from European car magazine, AutoCar.co.uk, who apparently spoke with Lexus’ European VP, Alain Uyttenhoven, about the new vehicle. He’s quoted as saying that the launch of a new, smaller luxury sub-compact was “not impossible,” and that a vehicle like that “made sense” for the luxury marque. At least, it makes sense in Europe where Uyttenhoven says that tastes continue to push the development of smaller and smaller models.

“The premium market starts with a car as small as the Audi A1 (pictured above),” Uyttenhoven said. So, keep your eyes open at the end-of-year auto shows for a new Lexus sub-compact.

 


Japanese Car Auction Find – 2008 Toyota Prius S 10th Anniversary

Posted by Stephen On Friday, July 18th, 2014

This week’s Japanese car auction find is a stunning 2008 Toyota Prius S 10th Anniversary Edition. With the first details now emerging of the next generation of Toyota’s flagship hybrid hatchback, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at how far we’ve come.

2008 Toyota Prius

As a 2008MY, this Prius falls right at the end of the car’s second generation, which spanned from the car’s US-launch in 2003 to the introduction of the third generation in 2009. In other words, this is the hatchback that America fell in love with during the half-decade leading up to the auto industry’s global recession. This is the model range that moved the Prius from an on-the-side enthusiast offering to a front-and-center flagship vehicle for the world’s largest Japanese automaker.

2008 Toyota Prius rear view

As we mentioned at the beginning, this particular Toyota Prius is an S 10th Anniversary special edition model. As you can imagine, Toyota went all out for their anniversary model and packed lots of juicy tech. goodies into a clean and eco-friendly package. It helped that Prius sales were starting to slip at the time, which incentivized Toyota to go the extra mile on this model.

You’ll find the following features in this 2008 Toyota Prius S 10th Anniversary model:

  • 1.5L hybrid powertrain with 107hp and 46mpg combined EPA rating
  • Auto-leveling HID headlights
  • Hard drive-based on-board navigation system
  • intelligent parking assist
  • SKS (Smart Key System) with original key
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Automatic air conditioning
  • Power steering & windows
  • Toyota’s improved S-VSC (Vehicle Stability Control)
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique beige interior
  • Cruise control
  • Hands-free phone connection

As a fun trivia fact, Toyota actually released two 10th anniversary models. Today’s Japanese car auction find is one of the original 2008MY S 10th Anniversary models, but the UK released their own limited edition “Prius 10” in 2010.

2008 Toyota Prius interior

Briefly looking over the auction sheet and at the pictures included in this post, you can quickly see that this is a really good find. The overall quality of the car has been rated as 4.5, which means the car is in very good condition. The auction sheet shows a total of three minor blemishes across the entire paint job, which explains its high rating. The interior also received a top-notch A grade, which tells us that it’s above-average considering the age and mileage.

If you’d like to delve even deeper into this 2008 Toyota Prius’ auction sheet, continue reading below. And remember, you can always follow along or research any of the other hundreds of Prii up for auction when you sign up for our free two-week trial access period.

2008 Toyota Prius auction sheet

Here’s the translation:

“Interior A, first registered Feb 2010, AT, AAC, original AWs, power steering, power windows, original TV, original navigation system, airbag, rear view reversing camera, push button starter, 2 x smart keys, seats have covers fitted, mig, rust underneath, DAA emissions code, scratches and dents, marks as per map.”