Honda Mobilio review

Honda Mobilio

Seven seaters are really very useful. They can be a little bus or a big hatchback, or a van; you take your pick. With the back seat removed the ‘boot’ becomes large.

With the second and third rows either folded down or even removed the car becomes a little van.

Honda Mobilio

Honda Mobilio

I haven’t tested the Xylo or Suzuki Ertigo yet but I can say the Mobilio is a step up from Toyota’s Avanza. It feels and looks more classy, yet they cost more or less the same.

Its got a good ground clearance of 188mm and is wide enough for general light cargo duties. This translates to 223 dm3 of cargo with all seats being used, which increases to 521 dm3 with the third row folded down.

The engine is very utilitarian though, it does the job but without much flair getting to 140km/h on a long straight or slight downhill. Fuel consumption is around 7 litre/100km. Actually, driving it around town is fine.

The cabin is comfortable and practical with loads of storage spaces and fairly comfortable cloth covered seats.

Honda Mobilio interior

Honda Mobilio interior

Standard features include central locking, electric front and rear windows, height-adjustable headlights, air conditioner and tilt-adjustable steering wheel.

This mini-MPV has been well executed. The package works and feels much more upmarket than the Avanza, I thought.

This is a very practical vehicle for a small business or a growing family. It feels more like a car than a van and is passenger orientated.

You can fit a lot of luggage if you fold the third row of seats down or keep it up and seven people fit easily. Preferably fit children in the back row. Space is at a premium back there, especially for your knees. Its a bit like SAA cattle class.

The Mobilio Trend costs R188 000, while the better specced Comfort costs R207 900 in manual and  R224 300 in automatic form.

The Mobilio comes with a 3 year or 100 000km warranty. A service plan is included.

Also look at the Toyota Avanza, Suzuki Ertiga or Mahindra Xylo.

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Honda Ballade 1.5 review

Honda Ballade 1.5

Honda Ballade holds a special place in our motoring world. Merc built wonderful classy little Benz’s when they built and marketed the first few generations of Ballade.

After a bit of a splutter Honda now offer us a Honda built Ballade. It is a nice little car, but sadly not quite the class act you remember.

Honda Ballade 1.5

Honda Ballade 1.5

The new Ballade is a modern and well designed subcompact sedan with loads of interior space for its size, is well specced and it has good roadholding .

You can choose manual or automatic (8speed CVT), base or Trend trim or fancy (Elegence) specification. Both models safety equipment which includes six airbags, ABS with EBD, emergency brake assist, vehicle stability assist and hill-start assist. The Elegance also has shift paddles, Eco button on the CVT version, cruise control and a reversing camera with three viewing options: top, normal and top-down view.

The sound system is very good, with Bluetooth, broad connectivity, easy controls and pleasing sound.

I was a little disappointing with the wind noise and one or two places in the cabin were just not smart enough for my liking or expectations.

The Ballade is pleasant to drive. Fuel economy is pretty good at around 7 litres/100km in real world conditions dropping to around 5L/100km om highway. Tyres are 175/65R15, so are economical to replace and give a comfortable drive.

Also look at the Kia Rio, VW Polo, Hyundai Accent, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris and Renault Sandro.
My choice would perhaps be the Suzuki Swift (Dezire) GL 1.2 Auto at R160 900

Price

Ballade Trend Manual R208 900 Automatic (CVT) R223 900
Ballade Elegance Manual R237 100 Automatic (CVT)  R252 100

Warranty

Three-year or 100 000km warranty and four-year or 60 000km service plan (intervals of 15 000km).

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Honda Accord 3.5V6 Exclusive review

Honda Accord 3.5V6 Exclusive

Honda-Accord-V6-009--thumbThis car feels sooo good to drive. You can be cruising along placidly at 110km/h wafting pleasantly to your destination, but when you decide to get going the V6 snarls, you are shoved firmly into the seat and you leave the traffic in your dust. Lovely stuff.

Not only does it perform exactly as required but she looks stunning. I can’t tell you the number of times I saw people stop and stare, and then smile. There are some who complain that this new Accord is too American, but I think Honda was right to bring in the slightly bigger US version to replace the previous European model.

The Civic has grown substantially and easily takes on the 3 series BMW so the Accord has to match the 5 series, E-class executive sedans from Germany.

Honda Accord 3.5 V6

Honda Accord 3.5 V6

The Accord will now compete at the top end of the mid-size executive segment says Graham Eagle, of Honda.

Honda-Accord-V6-176-seatsI agree. I found it very roomy, with serious leg room at the back and a huge, deep boot. You could easily fit 5 golfers in the cabin and their golf bags in the boot.

The front seats are 8-way electrically adjustable and very comfortable. There are two memory settings for the driver’s seat.

For longer items a porthole above the rear centre armrest (which has cup holders) opens to the boot.

The steering wheel is a joy to use. On the right are the cruise control, braking distance and lane monitor controls. On the left audio, bluetooth, telephone and menu controls.

While the Accord will waft you along cocooned in comfort and safety it is fun to drive in the Honda tradition. Performance and handling is superb, not to mention exemplary raodholding. This remains very much a driver’s car but without the harshness (sportiness) of some of its Teutonic competitors.

Honda-Accord-V6-171-camviewI loved the left side blind spot camera. When you turn left, or indicate left a camera built into the left-hand mirror shows you what is happening on that side of the car in the multifunction screen. The display includes graduated lines which help you judge the distance and speed of the car in the left lane.

One of the many extra little touches is a sun screen for the rear window which you can raise and lower with the push of a button.

The active safety features included as standard on this car are astounding. From the now mundane ABS brakes to adaptive cruise control, motion adaptive power steering, lane keeping, automatic wipers and headlights and so on, fifteen of them in fact.

These exclude the passive safety measures like six airbags, fancy seatbelts, active head restraints and so forth.

With 207kW and 339Nm on tap and a max of 200km/h do not expect awesome fuel consumption figures. You will however get a not too bad 9 litres / 100km in general use and around 7L/100km on the highway. Its a V6…  the sound and the acceleration is worth the small premium at the pump. I got 8.1 litres/ 100km on my usual route, which includes town, highway and a ten storey parking garage, which is good for this size car.

Honda-Accord-V6-030--sidePrice as tested R576 300. The range starts with the very competent 2.0 Elegance R408 400 and includes the 2.4 Executive at R471 300.

The Accord comes with everything but the software for the GPS installed. Standard features include headlamp washer, sunroof, automated headlights and wipers, rear view camera, lane watch camera, tyre deflation warning, LED day running lights, adaptive cruise control as well as climate control, and a good sound system with USB and aux connection points.

My wife says the German “Mercedesy” look on the outside with an American look on the inside might seem strange at first glance, but the layout of the control area is clean, clear and very practical. So…ignore the fake walnut not-so-nice finishing touches on the dash and rather keep your eye on the road and the admiring smiles of passers-by.

The Germans have a way of fooling the public concerning price. The V6 Honda Accord is  R25 000 cheaper than a BMW520i. Performance wise, it competes with the R80 000 more expensive 528i.

The Accord has as standard “extras” which will cost about R120 000 on a German car. Remember when it is time to trade-in, the price is based on the standard list price.

Honda-Accord-147-instrSo the equivalent (with goodies included) Audi, BMW or Merc costs between R150 000 and R200 000 more than the Accord. Making the Accord a bargain. Add to this the knowledge the Accord is probably better built and it becomes a no-brainer.

The Mercedes E250 is R673 000 without extras but offers fuel consumption around 8L/100km which is almost 1 litre/100km better.

BMW 5 series 528i is R723 000 without extras, also around 8L/100km.

Audi 2.0T A6 is R581 ooo excluding most extras and is a 4 cylinder.

No wonder this car was a 2015 SAGMJ COTY finalist.

In a nutshell the Honda Accord 3.5 V6 is great value, spacious and worry-free luxury transport.

The warranty is for 3 years or 100 000km and you get a service plan for 5 years or 100 000km included in the price.

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Honda Civic Dtec review

Honda Civic Dtec

Honda Civic Dtec

Honda Civic I-Dtec 1.6

The top of the range Honda Civic is sublime.

I admit I am slightly biased toward Honda. But still.

This turbo charged diesel does it for me. It is a normal useful everyday car on the one hand and it is a performance boy racer on the other just champing at the bit. Unleash it and you unlock automotive  bliss.

If you have the extra cash and you want a pocket rocket on occasion but a civilised car the rest of the time this Civic will deliver. I loved it.

Many members of the public and friends spontaneously commented on the car’s good looks. The guys liked the rims too. So take it from us. She is a looker.

The lines and dimensions gel. She looks right.

Honda Civic showing off her flowing lines.

Honda Civic showing off her flowing lines.

But how does she go?

I got 5.7l/100km on average for the week she was with me. During the car’s week I drove her she rode up parking garages, pulled away in little acceleration tests and topped 180km/h. I am confident you will achieve sub 6l/100km figures.

Acceleration, even in fifth is good enough to overtake on the open road in normal conditions. In lower gears the torque is very satisfying. Thank you.

The torque maxes out at 300Nm, and with the relatively light body you can imagine the pulling power of this 1.6 turbo diesel.

I topped 180km/h without trying.

The brakes, steering, road feel all result in a true driving experience. Man, it’s fun to drive.

Interior

After you get used to the slit dash, the interior of this car impresses with its well considered layout and clever use of space. With the rear seats down you get 1200litres packing space and boot only is 467 litres.

The rear seats can be tipped up cinema style to form a second storage area in the rear cabin. They also have a one-motion, dive-down feature (split 60:40) to create a flat loading space. This is a luxury car and comes with all the expected goodies.

Seats are very comfortable.

Exterior

The comments I got were overwhelmingly positive.

Pretty butt.

Pretty butt.

Driving experience

The Dtec Civic is very much a driver’s car.

Awesome acceleration, great road holding and brilliant handling.

Summary

The Civic looks like a hot two door sports hatch. It is hot and it is sporty, but it is actually a four door and very practical.

Price as tested is R324 500. The 1.8i Elegance costs R270 500 or R284 600 in automatic, the executive R24 000 more.

Also look at the Golf GTi, Opel Astra Sport, Renault Megane, Ford Focus.

Warranty is 3 years or 100 000km while the service plan is for 5 years or 90 000 km.

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Honda Civic 1.8 Elegance review

Honda Civic 1.8 Elegance

I have to start with admitting two things. Firstly, I am a Honda fan. My wife owned one for 12 years. Secondly, I took a dislike to the concept of the split instrumentation when I read about it.

In spite of my reservations this 9th generation Civic is a beautiful car to look at. It is elegant and yet sporty. A bit like its personality. And it’s oh so smooth. Everything about is easy to use, works effortlessly and just happens, smoothly.

Honda really build quality cars. Although not cheap if just look at the price list, they remain the best bargain on our roads. Just a bit wider than the competition, just a bit better in every department. To own one, is to love one. This new Civic is very good. I rode it almost exclusively in Econo mode and always had enough power.

Maybe on the Highveld with four adults on board and the weekend’s baggage in the large boot you will need to disengage the green Econo button. The display rewards you with a green glow when you are driving with fuel efficiency in mind, otherwise it glows blue. The petrol companies must hate the green Econo button.

The 1.8 i-vtec generates 104kw at 6 500 and 174Nm @ 4 300 of torque.

Bad 

There is quite a lot of hard plastic in the cabin. It is all very functional. The overall impression will be pleasing for a long time I think. The doors and other surfaces a normal person will touch are soft.

The door sill is quite high for older people, but I think one will get used to it quite quickly. It’s not a big issue.

On a car of this class you would expect a light for the vanity mirror on the passenger side.

I got around 7.9 litre/100km, which is a full litre more than Honda claims. My driving included a 7 storey parking garage every day and 50km of highway driving. I kept the Econo button on most of the time. On the N2 to Cape Town the consumption does drop to the mid 7s at 120km/h.

Good

The interior is more spacious than any of its direct competition. It has good shoulder space and adequate leg room at the back. The rear seats have a 60/40 split. The seats are comfortable and the driver’s seat is highly adjustable ans supportive. The boot is a healthy 440 litres.

The Civic has a number of nice touches. The front doors have courtesy lights which illuminate where you have to get out.

Buttons for audio/ phone, cruise control and computer are all on the leather clad steering wheel. The dual display actually works very well. On top is the digital speedometer, fuel gauge and consumption indicator. Below you get the other dials like the rev counter and warning lights.

A large centre console between the seats has storage space inside, cold drink holders on top and slides forward to become an armrest.

Fit and finish is outstanding. The cabin is an island of tranquillity.

Driving impressions

The car drives like a Honda. It’s fun, responsive and has superb road manners. The Civic comes with adaptive electronic power steering which always feels just right. No dead spots or numb areas. The EPS together with Honda’s vehicle stability assist massively enhance the car’s cornering and general handling. It is a both a fun and a safe car to drive.

The brakes feel good and have very little fade.

The driving position is good and all round visibility above average.

It can be an effortless driving experience or a hands-on involved drive. The choice is up to you.

The Civic has more than enough space for two adults, three children and their luggage.

Costs

The model tested, the Civic Sedan 1.8 Elegance costs R259 900 . Prices range from R209 900 for the base 1.6 Comfort to R282 900 for the 1.8 Executive Automatic.

All Hondas come with a 3 year 100 000km warranty and a 5 year 90 000km service plan.

Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC Review

Honda Accord

I am a little in love with this car. It does everything well. Honda engineering at its very best. Innovation too. In fact I love it. So I am a little biased.

I think it is perhaps the best car that I have tested, all things considered. If you are in the market for a D segment family size car test drive an Accord before buying any of the Germans. It really is that good. The Honda Accord 2.4 i-VTEC Executive was SA’s 2009 Car of the Year.

The Accord comes with all the goodies as standard. From dual control climate control, park distance control, electrically adjustable seats to automatic wipers and lights. From a safety point of view it has 6 airbags and a host of accident prevention technologies.

Good points

The Accord is supremely balanced and fine tuned. It is a driving instrument.  Build quality is the best that money can buy, so you are unlikely to have problems with this car. The interior is refined and insulated from road noise and will last many years. The ergonomics are in tune with the driver. It has a cockpit not an interior! Seats and steering are fully adjustable.

The roadholding is impressive and handling is sharp and responsive. This is aided by Honda’s Advanced Driver Assist System: collision mitigation braking, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. It is an amazing system. Try it for yourself.

The gearbox is as sharp and smooth as a Santoku knife’s blade. Awesome. The suspension delivers precision handling. The acceleration matches the boosted performances of its competition at well under 8 seconds to 100km/h. The Accord offers a superlative, rewarding driving experience.  

Bad points

I have to admit she is a little thirsty. Having said that, I averaged 8.9 litres per 100 km of mixed driving including at 120km/h on the highway and town driving including 8 floors up in a parking garage. The back seats are a little cramped for a car of this size. The boot is a little odd shaped. There is nothing much wrong with this car.

Summary

The Honda Accord stands out as a quality value for money driver’s car. We tested the 2.4 Exclusive automatic at R404 900. Prices range from R305 900 for the 2.0 litre manual to R404 900 for the 2.2 Dtec Executive automatic. Both the 2.4 petrol and the 2.2 diesel can be recommended. Drive them and decide.

Warranty is 100 000km or 3 years, includes 5 year service plan.

Honda Jazz Comfort 1.3 CVT review

Honda Jazz Comfort 1.3 CVT

The Honda Jazz is the best made car in South Africa according to the J D Power Customer Satisfaction Index if you look at it over a few years. Honda, the brand is normally first or second, each year and the Jazz is the best in its niche. So we know it is extremely well built. The question is how does it drive?

Impressions 

For a small car, the Jazz has got lots of space. The cabin is airy and pleasant. All round visibility is very good. The driver’s seat and steering adjusts easily so getting a good driving position is easy. Instruments and switches are where you would expect them to be and are clear and easy to use. The interior is better than the exterior I think.

The car is a pleasure to drive. It feels well balanced and agile. The traditional clever Honda engineering is evident from the moment you turn the key. Everything is in balance.

Good points

There are no less than 16 pockets, cup holders and assorted places you can keep things. It sounds excessive but it is all very clever. There is a cranny for everything, your phone, wallet, glasses, cooldrink, loose change, etc. The seats are comfortable, the sound system is very good and the air conditioner does its job well. In short, the interior is very well made.

Bad points

Not much. It is not a cheap car, but then you get more car for your Rand with a Honda. At altitude I think you may on occasion wish you have a bit more power, but getting the more powerful 1.5 will sort that out. Acceleration of the 1.3 is a little laborious.

Summary

The Jazz grows on you. If you buy one you will not sell it for a long time.

Fuel consumption of just under 7 litres per 100 km can be expected in general around town driving.

We drove the Jazz 1.3 Comfort CVT which costs R188 987.

Honda CR-Z Hybrid review

The Honda CR-Z Hybrid is a very special little car. It is little. It is special. In fact its a sporty hybrid and its sweet. As Honda says, “The Honda CR-Z is a unique new car, combining the advantages of a clean, efficient petrol electric hybrid powertrain with a 6-speed manual transmission and a stylish coupe body.”

The CR-Z Hybrid has the 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine coupled to the Honda IMA parallel hybrid system resulting in CO2 emissions of 117g/km and 5.0 L/100km fuel economy in combined mode down to 4.5 on the open road in econo mode. A word of warning. In sport mode she gets thirsty as do all cars that have a bit of go. Speaking of which, top speed is around 200km/h and 0 – 100 is under 10 seconds.

The i-VTEC produces 84kW@ 6 100 and the electric motor another 10 kW. The big difference comes with the torque. The electric motor adds 78Nm to the 145Nm of the petrol engine from 1 000rpm.

It all adds up to loads of fun. Roadholding and driveability is up to the usual Honda standards, with just a little more spice added into the mix.

Standard features include remote central locking, immobiliser, auto locking doors, airbags, ABS, hill start assist and fog lamps all around. It has an autostop function in econo mode. When you stop at a traffic light the petrol engine cuts out. As soon as you engage a gear it kicks in again. It works very smoothly.

The CR-Z has a few little luxuries like a refrigerated glove box, automatic aircon, sports seats, leather trim, daytime running lights and cruise control.

It costs R299 999. Quite a lot of money for a tiny thing. But remember dynamite comes in small packages and the grin factor of this car is huge.

The CR-Z comes with a 3 year/100 000km warranty and a 5 year/ 90 000km service plan. Service intervals are at 15 000km intervals.