Honda Fit EV Makes World Debut at LA Auto Show

The new Honda ‘Fit’ (it’s not that fit) has been unveiled the Los Angeles Auto Show. Honda announced plans to begin leasing the 123 city-mile per charge (76 mile range combined adjusted city/highway) battery electric commuter vehicle in the U.S in summer 2012.

The Fit EV is based on the popular Fit (named Jazz in Europe) and is a part of the company’s diverse portfolio of alternative fuel vehicles that includes petrol-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell-electric and natural gas-powered models.

Honda Concepts at Tokyo Motor Show 2011

Honda has announced a line-up of concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show, including concept commuter vehicles designed for easy and fun mobility, and a new sports concept, hinting at the design direction of future models. The Small Sports EV Concept (Pictured) would be a next-generation compact EV sports model, which according to Honda would be ‘fun to drive’ while achieving excellent environmental performance.

Staying with the environmental theme, Honda will also be showing a concept AC-X, A plug-in hybrid vehicle offering ‘comfortable and enjoyable driving experience in urban and long-distance motoring’. With the choices of an “engine drive mode” for more spirited driving or an “automatic drive mode” for more relaxed driving. Sounds fun…

As if this isn’t enough we also have the Micro Commuter Concept to look forward to, A micro-sized, futuristic, electric city commuter vehicle which will become a highly accessible form of mobility. It also features a HONDA MOTOR COMPO two-wheel EV slotted inside this vehicle, two for the price of one, bargain! 

Review: Lexus CT200h

If it’s good enough for Kylie, then it’s good enough for me! Lexus’ new CT200h is the first in its class to feature Hybrid technology as a premium compact, and has nestled itself snugly amongst the competition.  Boasting class, performance and a derriere even Miss Minogue herself would be proud of. 

Our destination was Eaton Rowing Club, greeted by a cuppa and a bacon sandwich, we sat and admired as Eaton’s fine rowers passed by, glistening in the sun (all slow motion like in the movies).  After, we headed down to see what the CT had to offer…the perfect start, some would argue, to the day ahead.

The CT200h has been designed with a new focus for the Lexus brand, however keeping that same elegance and comfort we have come to expect from the premium marque.  A chunky exterior with sharp lines and a kinetic design makes the CT stand out from its competition, namely the 1 series and A3.  Face on, the car sits very wide and sweeps neatly into the body’s grooves, all encompassing an expression of precision and power, enticing the new, younger demographic that Lexus are so keen to impress.  A strip of 8 LED running lights underline the headlights and from the rear you’re left with a view of tiny red dots, completing the exterior light show, backing up the ‘small but powerful’ impression.

The model I tested was the entry level SE-I with the standard 1.8L petrol engine, starting from £23,485 – which in my opinion is worth every last penny.  That is to say if you’re the lucky ones sat in the front! (More on that later…).

Offering a top speed of 112mph and reaching 62mph in a respectable 10.3 seconds, the CT200h is built for a balance between performance and efficiency.  The hybrid technology, we are all so familiar with from the Japanese car giant, works well in this baby Lexus too. Conserving fuel by cutting the engine at stops like traffic lights and road works, its like having your mother with you on a shopping spree, designed to stop you wasting money unnecessarily. 

In ‘Normal’ mode the CT switches between using the battery and petrol engine, or both, to achieve optimum performance and efficiency.  ‘Eco’ mode sees an efficiency-biased driving style and ‘Sport’ persuades a more power orientated ride.  If you’re looking for optimum ride comfort and smooth acceleration, ‘Normal’ or ‘Eco’ modes will suit you just fine, however for a more dynamic driving experience, switch to ‘Sport’ - just be sure to expect not much more than the dials changing to red. Unfortunately the CT is a little underwhelming when it comes to ‘Sport’.  Yes, the steering tightens and becomes more weighted and the way it handles is very tight, but Lexus seem to have forgotten about good old-fashioned speed in the CT200h’s case, a flaw in targeting the livelier hatchback driver.

Designed with middle management in mind, the CT200h offers an airy and spacious cabin with an interior width big enough to fit Kylie and her entourage, there’s also enough luggage space for all she would need to create an unplanned stage show when she saw a need for it.  But here is where I come to find issue – the backseat.  Now I don’t know about you, but I like to know that when I’m on my pilgrimages to the Mecca that is London’s West-End to see a musical or engage in other duties as a true Fag Hag, that my boys are comfortable on our journey.  This however can’t be the case for the CT, as there is just no room for your bottom!  Leg room is important I agree, however if I can’t get comfortable on the seat itself, then legroom is the least of my worries.

Apart from this personal issue that I have, although others have assured me I’m not alone my thinking it, I really do love the new CT200h.  It’s a car that gives you all the luxury of a premium brand, with the fun and engaging drive offered by a luke-warm hatch, priced reasonably and won’t cost you the earth to fuel, a total of £0 to tax and free from congestion charge, perfect for any country folk visiting the ‘big smoke’, and perfect for doing the Loco-motion - so long as I’m the one driving, that is. 


Kia Unveil a Third EV Concept - Naimo

Kia seem very committed to the growing EV market and have unveiled a third concept today at the Seoul Motor Show.  Meet the Naimo, an electric Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV).

On first impression the Naimo looks boxy and typically Korean, but reading more about it - it's a lot more Korean than you might think.  Take the name for example, 'Naimo' inspired by the Korean word 'Ne-mo' (Neh-mo) meaning 'Square shape', a perfect descriptive for the new concept.  That's not all, the exterior design, from the lights the the wrap-around windscreen has all been inspired by the simple yet complex visuals in Korean art.

But stepping inside is where you really get the impact.  The door panels and floor are made from Korean Oak, while the headlining is made from Korean "Han-ji" paper, these elements are mixed with light emitting diode displays and full connectivity giving the Naimo a fusion between tradition and modernism.

There is no windscreen wiper, but actually a high powered wind jet to clear the rain and features 20 inch low-drag alloy wheels, equipped for efficiency in mind.

“Naimo is a perfect balance of innovation, high-tech and Korean tradition.  It was heavily inspired by the purity and grace of traditional Korean arts and crafts, but combines this with cutting edge technologies to deliver a truly premium experience,” commented Kia Motors’ Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.

Naimo joins the EV range Kia are running current tests on, amongst various conditions.  Included in the fleet are not only EV's but hybrid and Fuel Cell technologies also, achieving zero or reduced emissions.

Lexus Invite us to Join The Quiet Revolution...

Yes, we're off to Eaton today to see why Kylie has been keeping so quiet about the all new Lexus CT 200h.  

The first premium hybrid hatch promises to be very nice indeed, and although I have always been unsure about Lexus' direction of styling with it, I may forgive it after having a play...

So I shall leave you with some lovely photo's of the pop icon herself, filming the advert and generally looking fabulous!



Renault Confirm New Twizy

We saw this little dune buggy at Paris2010 and Renault have confirmed pricing will start from just €6,900 making it affordable and cute, though I still can't see any side windows, the Twizy does feature a windscreen wiper, so Renault are you suggesting we all just wear waterproofs?


Being part of Renault's Z.E. (Zero Emissions) range, the Twizy will need a battery and recharging, which is worked out on a lease agreement.  In total the running costs of the new Renault work out cheaper than running a three wheeled scooter (UK pricing to be announced at a later date).

Charging takes just 3 and a half hours and on a full charge the average milage out of the micro city car is around 60 miles.  So come Autumn 2011 while you're 'Think[ing] Bike' don't forget to 'Think Twizy' too.

smart forspeed - a Speedster Like no Other

Okay, so smart don't refer to it as a Speedster, but I think the raised arches behind the headrests suggest it, and I can't think of how else to describe it.

smart's newest concept is somewhat of a dream as it would never be produced to look like this, however the ability to feel as open air as this with it's 'wind deflector' windscreen and lack of door windows is pretty cool.

Possibly the biggest fan of convertibles myself, I have to admit I would love to see this on the road tomorrow, and it reminds me a lot of the Renault Wind, and the figures smart have published seem to suggest that they've been testing it for the real world, it reads...

"For example, the smart forspeed accelerates from 0 to 37 mph in just 5.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 75 mph. A 30 kW magneto-electric motor is installed at the rear of the smart forspeed and the vehicle concept provides an immediate powerful response from stationary. Pressing a button in the centre console activates a boost function which provides an extra 5 kW of power for a short time and is ideal for overtaking manoeuvres on urban highways, for example. The smart forspeed is powered by a lithium-ion battery that delivers 16.5 kWh of electrical energy. It is simple to charge at any conventional 220 Volt socket. The charging device is located in the third brake light behind the smart logo and features a simple push/push opening mechanism. A fully charged battery is sufficient for 84 miles of driving fun (NEDC). Quick charging from 0 to 80 percent takes just 45 minutes."

Exciting stuff smart!

Lexus Launch A Quiet Revolution

Lexus have begun their new ad campaign for the all-new CT200h. Basically a lot of noise on drums happens, then Kylie pouts with a gesture to be quiet and drives the car around town not making a sound.

Tadaa! It hasn't made the questionable styling of the CT any more 'un-questionable' however it's a pretty cool advert nonetheless.


Porsche Turns to Hybrid Tech, Extending Panamera Range

The Panamera has been rather well received, as four-door performance vehicles are becoming more of a trend for sportscar manufacturers, Porsche has decided that not only do they require performance and practicality, but also a little eco street cred too.

The new 'S Hybrid' Panamera combines power and economy, returning 41.5mpg combined and still sprinting from 0-62mph in a slick 6 seconds.

They have not forgotten their market for out and out performance cars, but if they can reduce their emissions to a mere 159g/km (tiny for a car with 380bhp) then I applaud the smooth talking German stud that is Porsche.

Nissan Esflow Concept

Nissan are also releasing a more sinister concept this year, and after last year's constant bout of stupidly named cars that an 8 year old could design (I sill haven't forgiven the Cube) and the unveil of the rather lifeless new Micra at Paris, they need to pull out a beautiful car that we can all take seriously.

Taking technologies seen in their newest EV the Leaf - the Esflow is a totally electric sports car designed to act, perform and look like a rear wheel driven two-seater.

Nissan created a nice little video to show it off too...