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Friday, October 4, 2013

Honda Hybrid Family Road Trip with the CR-Z (THE GREAT HONDA HYBRID DISCOVERY)

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Last weekend was a blast, then again my weekends are always a blast :P. But I say this because I got to drive around town with the latest CR-Z from Honda. Although I've been driving a CR-Z from a day to day basis, this one was different because it's a newer version and it's the manual transmission variant! So I'll be highlighting the technical differences whenever the opportunity arises

I was given 3 days to test drive the car around town and to share my experience, so this is what happened :

(Get ready for a long post and if you stay on long enough you might just get a chance to test drive the CR-Z for 3 days 2 nights yourself!)

The Honda Family Road Show @ Amcorp Padang Timur

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So me and the GF went to the Honda Hybrid Family Road Trip Show that was held at the same weekend as the test drive. Located just outside Amcorp Mall

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There were plenty of test drive vehicles on stand-by for would-be customers to test drive them.

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The Hybrid Breeds all parked up front.

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The first hybrid only variant available from Honda, although the Civic Hybrid came out before this model. The Insight is the model that kick-started the hybrid awareness for the nation.

You'll hardly see this color on the road as it was on a limited run.

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The latest Honda Accord, which is in it's 9th Generation. Considered the flagship model of Honda that comes with a 2.0L and 2.4L CC variant.

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An overview of the road show, biggest i've ever seen so far.

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The GF posing at the center of the field with her balloons.

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Several clowns were also spotted.

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A couple of street art drawings of the hybrid Hondas

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The registration booth, visitors can register themselves to get a chance to win lucky draws as well as to test drive any Honda Hybrids.

Not only were Honda related products there but there were several kiosks set-up that sells a wide variety of clothes,accessories,food and knick-knacks.

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Look what I spotted! A family of ducks. No doubt here to check out which Honda best suits them.

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After walking around the field we finally decided to go into the Hybrid Home to learn more about how Honda's Hybrid Technology.

Some quick Faqs

What's the difference between Regular cars and Hybrid cars?

The main difference is that Hybrid cars have 2 engines under their hood as compared to 1 from regular cars. 

But wouldn't that consume more petrol as there are two engines? 

No, because while the main engine is petrol powered, the second engine is actually electric powered (Known as the IMA). The electric powered engine is mainly used during low-speed cruising as well as to give the car a little acceleration boost whenever it's needed.

Where does the electronic powered engine get it's power from? 

Hybrids recharge their batteries by reclaiming energy through a process called regenerative braking which means that whenever the car brakes, the electric engine charges itself from the kinetic energy generated by the braking motion. 

What other benefits are there in Honda's Hybrid Cars?

Their Hybrid Cars have a special feature called the Engine Stop function which as the name implies, stops the engine whenever the car is stationary for a period of time, and this will save a significant amount of petrol consumption whenever you're stuck in a heavy traffic. 

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 Tandem Bicycles, 'The Power Of Two'

In this activity, it is shown how the Honda's hybrid Intelligent Motor Assist (IMA) engine technology works. As you can see the bicycle above requires two person to operate. Now imagine the person in-front is the main engine (Let's call him/her i-VTEC) and the person at the back is the electric motor (Well her him/her IMA)

So whenever the i-VTEC is peddling, IMA can help out by peddling at the same time as well, hence reducing the power needed to generate movement from i-VTEC. That is the basis on how Honda's Hybrid Cars can save you more petrol on the long run!

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One of my favorite features of Honda Cars, as this not only applies to Honda's Hybrid range, majority of their new models come with the ECO Assist feature. Which is a guide for drivers to be more fuel efficient.

This feature is located next or above the speedometers (Exact location depends on model). Whenever the driver isn't driving in a fuel efficient manner, the speedometer changes it's color to blue and the driver is driving in a fuel efficient manner, the speedometer turns green. Although for the CR-Z i'm driving, whenever the sports mode is engaged, it actually goes red meaning the driver is a bad ass.

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There was also a mini-cinema in the hybrid house which is a short-film on how Hybrids work. (Doesn't the picture above reminds you of a certain japanese movie? One that involves a girl and a well)

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Another interactive game in the hybrid home. This one teaches you how to drive in a fuel efficient manner by showing you how to manage your fuel efficiency without going too slow.

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The speedometer belonging to the Honda Insight

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The showroom in the hybrid house with Honda's Sales Advisors ready to serve you and answer any inquiries you may have. Did you know that any cars being displayed there have to adhere to a few strict Honda rules?

One of them is that the H letter on each Tyre has to be set in a straight 90 degrees angle, another one is that whenever an Advisor is speaking to a customer while he is in the showroom car, he MUST not be standing while the customer is seating at the driver's seat. The proper way is to kneel to the customer's level.

So right after the road show, we headed down to Bukit Gasing which is a very well preserved landmark of Petaling Jaya. Which I find is something that's lacking around the Klang Valley in recent years. The first thing that came to mind was the decision to demolish Pudu Jail. One of the best things about Pudu Jail is the painted mural of the entire outerwall by inmate Khong Yen Chong, though the mural wasn't well preserved and as years go by the murals faded more and more. It is also worth noting that Khong, as an inmate, was not able to complete the mural. He returned later as a free man and volunteered his time to complete his masterpiece. It was once known as the longest mural in the world by Guinness Book of Records.

It's really saddening that the generations to come will not be able to see the jail with their own eyes and will only see another shopping mall whenever they're at Pudu area. In short, preserving one's landmark or in Bukit Gasing's case, preserving the nature is an important matter. So what better way to preserve it than do reduce our carbon footprint by driving a Hybrid Car?

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Alright so we've basically covered how Hybrid Cars work, so let's go deeper into the Honda CR-Z.

Priced from RM119,000.00, the CR-Z is the first hybrid-sports car to arrive in Malaysia. It currently comes in two variations. 6-speed Manual and  Automatic Transmission with CVT gearbox. With the Manual transmission being RM4,000 cheaper than the Automatic variant. In retrospect I would have chosen the manual one as not only it is cheaper, but it actually produces more torque. besides manual cars are a blast to drive.

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A couple more shots of the exterior, I'm just floored by how good the front looks

One of the main difference between the previous version and this current one is that instead of regular ol' Halogen headlights, the current CR-Z has Xenon headlights. Which meant that it's head lights shine a white light instead of yellow one and that gives the driver better overall driving vision at night.

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The interior of the CR-Z

The first thing I noticed is the maroon finishes on the side door as well as the corner of the seats. In the previous version, the seats and side finishes are all just black. 

The Manual stick gives me the tingly feelings whenever I'm changing gears

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The view from the driver's side.

The thing that made me fall in love with the CR-Z initially, the design of the controls as well as the music player itself makes me feel like I'm driving some kind of futuristic car. 

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The Tachometer, notice the blue lights? It's the Eco Assist function I mentioned earlier. I absolutely love the digital speedometer.


One added feature in the latest version is the Sport+ Boost Button located at the right hand side of the steering, which is a button that gives you a short burst of extreme acceleration whenever you need it, but at the cost of utilizing a lot of the IMA's battery. 


Do note that the Sport+ feature is only available whenever the Ready S+ indicator says so as pictured above.

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The first line above shows how much battery is available in the Electric motor engine. The second line shows whether the Electric Motor is being charged or being used to assist the main engine. The last line is where you'll find all the usual indicators like Parking Brakes, Seat belts, Engine Warning signs as well as whether the car is in "Normal" "Econ" or "Sports" mode. 

The Up Down indicator is only available in the Manual model as it guides the driver whether to down shift or up shift the gear for better fuel efficiency.

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First line is self explanatory
The second line is the current fuel efficiency of the car, it is in your best interest to keep the bar as high as possible at all times. 
The third item is the average fuel consumption of the car meaning in average it getting 14.5KM for every 1 Litre of Petrol it burns, which is rather poor for a Hybrid Car to achieve, but that is because I've been rather heavy footed in my driving.

My average fuel consumption range while driving normally on a weekly basis is about 20 km/l.



There are 3 modes available to choose from whenever you're driving. Sports, Normal, and Econ Mode.

Sport mode 
In Sport mode, the light is RED. Acceleration is more powerful and steering feedback is tighter. The IMA Hybrid System provides more electric motor assistance.

Normal mode 
The light will change between blueblue-green and green, serving as a guide to improve fuel efficiency. In this mode, there's a fine balance between performance and emissions, making it suitable for most driving situations.

ECON mode 
In ECON mode the light alternates between blue, blue-green and green, serving as a guide to improve fuel efficiency as this mode prioritizes fuel efficiency over engine performance. The more fuel-efficient your driving is, the more leaves are rewarded to you on the car's Multi-information Display. A trophy will be rewarded on the screen when sufficient leaves are collected.

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The climate controls as well as the music player. You'll find all the inputs you need from USB to AUX as well as CD players that support WMA and MP3 formats.

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The view of the car from the back. Notice the peering dog plush? I actually stole it off from the GF when I picked her up without her noticing and stashed it at the boot until I arrived at Bukit Gasing and told her. 

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My facial expression when I told her that.

Although the car is a coupe, one shall not fret about it's boot space :

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Whenever you have the urge to kidnap someone and put them in your boot, the CR-Z does it's job just fine. Don't believe me? See :

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It even fits me!

There is also a hidden gift in the boot the first time you open it, check it out :


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In short, this car is perfect for those that are looking for something sporty but yet practical! The girlfriend says the ride is comfortable enough to sit in, that is because the front suspension uses MacPherson Struts with stabilizers and the rear utilizes light weight Torsion-Beam axle which provides a really comfortable ride without compromising performance.

Did I also mention that the car comes fitted with 6 airbags which protects the driver and passenger with from any grave injuries.

Performance wise, I totally love how much power the 1.5L IMA engine provides. Though as a responsible drive I did not try to run it at top-speed but I've read that it goes up to 180KM/H without breaking a sweat. Which is something really believable as I've reached 110KM/H with just the third gear. I can only imagine how much more it can go with the 6 speed transmission box.

Right so back on to our road trip

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Finally reached Bukit Gasing park.

First thing that I noticed is how well preserved the park/hill is.

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A small pathway created for joggers and people who enjoy a long walk with nature

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Everywhere you look there's a curious plant waiting to be discovered

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Upon returning back to the entrance after a long walk, the sun was setting and I manage to snap some pictures of it at just the right time :

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Here comes the sun~

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Taken a selfie directly facing the sun

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Was feeling really hungry after the walk so we headed for a good dinner spot @ Seksyen 17 which is just nearby. A mixture of Chicken and Fish fillet and a frank.

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The Xenon lights working it's magic by lighting up the entire road with white lights.

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How the Xenon lights look like from the outside, notice how it doesn't distort the camera's brightness? It's designed so that it won't blind drivers on the opposing side of the road.

So this ends my experience with the new Honda CR-Z

I'll leave you with a few advices. This car is for anyone who's looking for an everyday sport car. It definitely turns head when you're passing by. Chicks dig it, it's manual transmission is fun to drive. One of the best feeling manual shifters around according to a car magazine editor friend.

Cons? Those with a family of 3 or more will have problems as it's a coupe, the back seats are designed for small kids and isn't well suited for grown adults. Unless it's an emergency, the back-seats aren't comfortable at all especially in the legroom area. But it's perfect to bring your pets around in!

Definitely nothing Oxymoronic about driving a hybrid sports car, nothing at all.

Are you interested in test driving the Honda CR-Z yourself for 3 days 2 nights? Head over to http://bit.ly/IQcsrI and register yourself there to get the chance now!

For more information head on over to Honda Malaysia' Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hondamalaysia

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