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Honda shows off future powertrains

Unplugged: Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the company is “looking at” introducing PHEV technology, but it won’t be here for some time.

Turbocharged Hondas on the way to Australia, but PHEV a way off

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Honda logo3 Nov 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON in TOCHIGI

HONDA has detailed its latest powertrain and electric vehicle technology, with the company embracing turbocharging technology in its passenger car line-up.

The Japanese car-maker detailed its new-generation small capacity turbo offerings at a pre-Tokyo motor show brand immersion event at its Tochigi research and development facility.

Already confirmed is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol unit that will surface in the tenth-generation Civic due in sedan guise mid-next year, as well as a smaller 1.0-litre three-pot.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said he was happy that the Japanese car-maker is pushing turbo tech, and suggested that the local arm would accept a number of blown powertrains, if they were offered.

“In recent times in particular we have been working hard to get the latest technology to the market,” he told GoAuto at the Tochigi test track. “Civic will be the first with 1.5 turbo, we are looking at applications for 1.0-litre.

We haven’t made any decisions on that but logically you would think that is a Jazz segment option.

“We are trying to bring the latest technology to the market with great drivability and great fuel economy. So where we can, we will do it.”

GoAuto sampled the 1.5-litre turbo engine under the bonnet of a Japanese market Jade MPV, and the brief taster was enough to get us excited about the next-gen Civic.

The Jade felt slightly sluggish compared to come other small capacity turbos however, a Honda engineer ensured us that the Civic will weigh significantly less than the Jade and will therefore offer better performance.

Honda also offered up a sample drive of the 1.0-litre unit, this time powering a current-gen European-market Civic hatch. Again the drive was brief, but the little triple felt sprightly enough, and if it was paired with the Jazz, could make for a zippy entry-level offering.

As part of the powertrain deep-dive, Honda also showcased its next-generation plug-in-hybrid tech using an Accord prototype car, and the car-maker says the new version – not due until the next Accord arrives in a couple of years – will offer a longer EV-only driving range and be able to operate in EV mode at high speeds and high acceleration.

Honda launched the Accord Sport Hybrid with a two-motor mild hybrid system in June this year that acts as the flagship Honda passenger car.

While Mr Collins said PHEV tech is “on the radar” for Australia, it is unlikely to surface anytime soon.

“We are looking at it. We haven’t got anything in the short term,” he said. “We have really concentrated on the two-motor hybrid system in the Accord, and of course the three-motor in the NSX. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s probably not on the short-term radar.

“It just needs to make sense, it needs to be the right model. It is certainly on the radar.”

The car-maker showcased a prototype of the CR-Z EV that it took to the Pikes Peak hill-climb race, hinting at a full range of alternative tech models in the future from hybrid, plug-in hybrid, full EV and hydrogen fuel-cell as seen in the Clarity FCV.

A new 10-speed automatic transmission – the world’s first 10-speeder, according to Honda – will be available in other markets in the Legend luxury sedan and possibly other models.

According to Honda, the high-damping, low-inertia torque converter has close ratios and improves fuel economy by six per cent and quietness when cruising by 26 per cent over the company’s six-speed unit, while response and acceleration have also been improved.

Given Honda Australia has passed on the Legend model, it is unlikely the 10-speed unit will end up in showrooms any time soon.

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