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Public invited to recreate famous Honda ‘Cog’ TV ad

Honda 'Cog' advertHere’s a task to keep you occupied during lockdown: recreate Honda’s famous Cog television advert from 2003.

The challenge has been set by ITV programme The People’s Ad Break, which will air the best effort in a TV advertising spot on Saturday 23 May.

The original Cog film required 606 hours of testing and filming before the final cut, so let’s hope you’re feeling patient…

Honda 'Cog' advert

Cog was a carefully – and beautifully – orchestrated chain reaction between a series of car parts. It lasted two minutes and was broadcast just 10 times (due to the high cost of lengthy advertising slots) in April 2003.

Nonetheless, the car it promoted, the Honda Accord Tourer, remained something of a niche offering, despite public and critical acclaim for the commercial.

Cog was chosen alongside popular adverts from Aldi, Haribo, Walkers and Weetabix for viewers to remake at home.

Read the rules before you start filming (you must avoid other brand names on camera, for example), then submit your entry via the The People’s Ad Break website before 8 May.

The winners will be judged by a panel of senior ITV staff and broadcast during the break for Britain’s Got Talent – one of the channel’s most popular shows.  

Honda 'Cog' advert

Jean-Marc Streng, president of Honda UK, said: “We are really looking forward to seeing how ITV’s viewers recreate Honda’s precision engineering in producing their version of our iconic Cog advert.  However, we would not recommend them taking their car apart to do so!”

You can share your ad-making progress on social media using the hashtag #HondaCog.

Honda will make parts for the S2000 again

Honda to remanufacture S2000 parts

Honda has suggested it will soon release a catalogue of parts for the S2000 sports car. But it needs owners’ help with deciding which parts to offer.

On a Japanese website, Honda teased that a catalogue will go online sometime in June 2020. At the moment, the site shows an X-ray diagram of an S2000, with a caption: ‘S2000 parts catalog website. 2020.6’. 

Honda to remanufacture S2000 parts

Honda will be taking recommendations from Facebook and Twitter. Posts with suggested parts to reproduce must be hashtagged #S2000PartsCatalog, and be posted between now and the end of April.

It’s the latest in a trend of Japanese marques announcing parts for their most iconic models. Toyota, for example, recently announced it will be remanufacturing parts for the Mk4 Supra. Mazda also has a restoration program for the MX-5, while Nissan has looked at reproducing parts for Skylines.

The Honda is, by comparison, quite new, but is still considered a part of that era, albeit its tail end. There’s no forgetting the S2000’s older brother, the NSX, either.

Although these are modern classics, marques catering to older models is not unusual From Land Rover to Lamborghini, in-house programs are the norm for restoring classic models to as-new condition. It’s especially common among exotic brands. The difference here is that Honda is unlikely to take your car, strip it down and fully recommission it. Come back in another 30 years’ time, maybe.

Honda to remanufacture S2000 parts

Rumours of a Honda S2000 revival have lingered on and off since the last variant’s demise. 

Honda celebrated the car’s 20th anniversary by presenting a specially updated version at the Tokyo Auto Salon, along with an original Civic Type R. Upgrades for the S2000 included a revised front bumper, reworked suspension and an improved sound system.

Honda NSX review: how the people’s supercar humbled Ferrari

Honda NSX classic

After 1989, sports cars would never be the same. That year, the Mazda MX-5 reinvented the roadster – with added reliability – then Honda did the same for the supercar. Its NSX was, in essence, a Ferrari without the flaws.

The New Sportscar eXperimental reached UK showrooms in late 1990, priced at £55,000. Its lightweight aluminium body was shrink-wrapped around a mid-mounted 3.0-litre V6 with forged pistons, titanium conrods and a searing 8,000rpm redline. Suspension was by double wishbones all-round, and F1 hero Ayrton Senna (racing for McLaren Honda at the time) helped hone the handling. No doubt, the NSX was the real deal.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

Reviews at the time, though, were mixed. The NSX torpedoed the myth that supercars have to be hard work, but some thought it too sanitised – complaining it lacked the character of European rivals. Yet history would prove Honda right. Today, you don’t need the skills of Senna to drive a McLaren Senna, and we have the NSX to thank. Equally, what seemed sensible 30 years ago now feels like a glorious throwback to an analogue age.

Honda NSX classic

It’s 6:30am as we board the Channel Tunnel. Two days and 478 miles of driving lie ahead, including stop-offs at historic racetracks in Reims and Rouen, plus a detour into central Paris for an overnight stay. Classic road tests are rarely so rigorous, but I’m hopeful the NSX will rise to the challenge. Me? I’ll need a double espresso first.

Honda’s heritage car hails from 2005, the last year of original NSX production. By this point, engine capacity had risen to 3.2 litres and pop-up headlights had fallen victim to US safety legislation. Metallic orangey-gold paint aside, it looks subtle for a supercar. The plasticky dashboard and parts-bin switches haven’t aged well, but its low-slung driving position is superb. The view ahead, all wraparound windscreen and plunging bonnet, is pure Le Mans racer.

With plenty of motorway miles to Reims, I’m dismayed to discover ‘infotainment’ is limited to a cassette player. Fortunately, the 280hp V6 makes its own music: a sultry snarl that swells to a rabid mechanical shriek. Beyond 5,500rpm (where many engines would shortly run out of revs), Honda’s VTEC variable valve timing kicks in like a nitrous boost, piling on speed with insatiable intensity.

We pause for photos in the evocative pitlane of Reims-Gueux – which hosted the French Grand Prix until 1966 – then drive what remains of the former circuit. The back straight is now a busy dual-carriageway, passing a retail park and drive-thru McDonald’s. The magic seems long gone.

The NSX is busy casting its spell, though. Its power steering feels light but lucid, its stubby gearlever moves with rifle-bolt precision and its pedals are just-so for heel-and-toe downshifts. Panoramic visibility and modest dimensions also mean we cope calmly with rush-hour Paris. Unlike, seemingly, every other driver on the infamous Périphérique ring road.

Honda NSX classic

If the ‘road to Rouen’ sounds like a stand-up comedy tour, the reality – 80 miles on Autoroute 13 – is less amusing. But while the old Rouen-Les-Essarts circuit has vanished almost without trace, the surrounding hills form a perfect playground for the NSX. It flows between apices like a parkour athlete, its pliant suspension and progressive chassis delivering the raw, seat-of-pants feedback that’s so often smothered in modern cars. Here, on rural roads more accustomed to tractors and decrepit Clios, the Honda feels transcendent.

This purity still appeals, some 30 years after launch. The current NSX is an altogether different beast, a futuristic hybrid with nigh-on twice the power, yet I wonder if it will ever inspire the same reverence. If driving is your drug, the original NSX is a Class A hit. After a road-trip to remember, I think I’m addicted.

Price: from £45,000

0-62mph: 5.5sec

Top speed: 168mph

Horsepower: 280

MPG combined: 22.8

Honda NSX: in pictures

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Honda NSX 2020 review: exotic, exhilarating… and easygoing

Honda NSX

There’s a feeling among some petrolheads that cars peaked in the early 1990s. It’s been downhill ever since. Writing for Autocar, Colin Goodwin went further, declaring 1994 ‘the greatest year in the history of the car’. I wasn’t old enough to drive back then, but I wonder if Colin is right.

Yes, cars today are better built, safer and more sophisticated. But as driving machines, they’re also more homogenised, sanitised and mundane. To quote Colin: ‘[1994] marks a point in time when cars were simpler, less cluttered with technology and, most importantly, had realistic performance’. One example he uses to illustrate this is the Honda NSX.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

The original NSX was no dinosaur: it was the first mass-produced car with an all-aluminium body, while its 274hp V6 used VTEC variable valve timing to boost power and economy. At heart, however, this was a straightforward sports car, with its engine in the middle, rear-wheel drive and virtually no electronic aids. Its superb steering, balletic handling – honed by Ayrton Senna – and high-revving howl left journalists in raptures and Ferrari red-faced. How the NSX felt to drive was what mattered.

Honda NSX

For the second-generation NSX, launched in 2016, Honda could have refreshed the same formula. Instead, perhaps inspired by hybrid hypercars like the LaFerrari and McLaren P1, it created something far more futuristic. The slightly by-numbers styling of the Mk1 made way for a riot of aggressive angles. And while there was still a V6 behind the seats, it was complemented by two turbos, three electric motors and a nine-speed gearbox driving all four wheels. On paper, this looked like progress.

On the road, many were less convinced. The NSX was heavy (1,759kg) and didn’t feel as raw and exciting as rivals. So Honda has obliged with a mid-life makeover, focused on righting these wrongs. Thermal Orange pearlescent paint aside, there are few visual changes – and no extra power for the 581hp hybrid drivetrain. But new anti-roll bars and rear-wheel hubs, plus tweaked settings for the steering, dampers, transmission and four-wheel-drive systems, promise a much sharper drive.

They deliver, too. Spin the Dynamic Mode dial to Sport+ and the NSX leaps to its toes: energised and agile. It turns in sharply, poised and playful mid-corner before Velcro-like grip rockets it onwards. The light steering jostles with incessant feedback and the huge carbon-ceramic brakes are easy to modulate. The suspension is also supple enough for British B-roads, transmitting every ripple and bump without making the car feel skittish. I’m not in the same universe in terms of driving skill, but I suspect Ayrton would approve.

Honda NSX

The NSX is ferociously fast, combining a wallop of electric torque with frenzied petrol power at the top end. Zero to 62mph takes 3.3 seconds, with urgent response at any speed. Being able to cruise silently around town in Quiet mode, using electric power only, feels very right-on, and helps towards impressive 26.4mpg economy. At times, I wished it sounded more special – its cultivated snarl won’t startle onlookers like a Lamborghini V10 – but mostly I was glad for its relative decorum. The novelty of constant barks and bangs soon wears thin.

It still isn’t perfect. The boot is tiny, the plastic paddle-shifters feel naff and the media system, shared with the Civic hatchback, is woeful. A price tag of £170,000, swollen by the weak pound, also makes it notably more expensive. Even so, only the more-commonplace Porsche 911 Turbo offers such easygoing usability in a supercar package. The new NSX might lack the simple charm of the original, but as the car industry rushes towards electrification, it feels forward-thinking and right for its time. The future is orange.

Price: £170,000

0-62mph: 3.3sec

Top speed: 191mph

CO2 G/KM: 242

MPG combined: 26.4

Honda NSX: in pictures

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Honda tests its robot lawnmower in public parks

Honda Miimo autonomous mower

Honda has begun testing its Miimo autonomous lawnmower with the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association as a solution to public park grass maintenance.

Working together with Honda’s E500 portable power source, Miimo can work unsupervised for long periods. All being well, it could help with future environmental improvement operations where a mains power supply isn’t available.

If you’re wondering what Miimo is, it’s probably best described as a Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner for your lawn. In Honda terms, it’s Mean Mower meets ASIMO. And it makes sense that the creator of the world’s fastest lawnmower, and one of the world’s cleverest robots, would combine the two.

Honda Miimo autonomous mower

Miimo has been on the market since 2017, and has proved very popular. Honda is now putting it to work on an industrial scale.

It can cut your grass, then find its way back to a charging hub when it gets low on power. It even has different cutting presets, so you can choose how it goes about its work.

Honda Miimo autonomous mower

There are advantages of Miimo beyond the obvious reduction in effort on the lawn owner’s part. The more regular mowing that Miimo can realistically achieve means grass becomes healthier and denser.

It’s one thing to cut your grass while looking on from the comfort of your conservatory. It’s quite another for a mower to be out in the world unsupervised for days and potentially weeks at a time.

If this testing and future tests are successful, Miimo could find itself playing a much bigger role in the upkeep of our surroundings.

2020 new Honda Jazz

Opinion: I’m in love with the new Honda Jazz

2020 new Honda Jazz

Confession: I think I may have fallen for the new Honda Jazz. In a week when the great and the good of the motoring world have tripped over their travel bags and squabbled over frozen party food to bring us the latest news from Wolfsburg, I’ve been pondering the simple beauty of the Jazz.

It’s beautifully simple. Honda hasn’t lost sight of what makes the Jazz so appealing. Like it or not, this is the car you’d want your parents to drive when they retire. It’s as familiar as The Archers theme tune, as dependable as a Golden Retriever, and as practical as a Cub Scout leader.

We don’t want the Honda Jazz to be quick (unless we’re stuck behind one on a B-road). We don’t want the Honda Jazz to be snazzy. We don’t want the Honda Jazz to be exciting. Which is why Honda appears to have nailed the fourth-generation model.

What’s up, Doc?

2020 new Honda Jazz

Take the styling, which is almost exactly how you’d want the Mk4 Jazz to look. The front end is a bit goofy, with a hint of Bugs Bunny, but overall, it puts right the wrongs of the outgoing Jazz.

The Jazz has always felt like a supermini XL – like a pair of beige slacks with an elasticated waist. Honda is promising ‘class-leading’ levels of interior space, thanks to the position of the fuel tank below the front seats and the hybrid tech in the engine bay.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the new Jazz is powered by a two-motor hybrid system? Honda hasn’t released any figures, but has promised ‘impressive fuel economy’. Needless to say, Jazz drivers won’t be making regular trips to the petrol station, so that plastic loyalty card can be recycled.

2020 new Honda Jazz

The Magic Seats are retained, because removing them would be akin to chasing away the ravens from the Tower of London. The flexibility afforded by the rear seats is one of the joys of Honda Jazz ownership.

Yes, I just used the word ‘joy’ in the context of the Honda Jazz.

Which brings me on to the dashboard. I suspect the press photos show a top-spec interior with all the bells and whistles, but notice how all the switches and buttons are positioned in a neat and driver-focused manner.

Volkswagen reckons the world is ready for a Golf with virtually no physical buttons. I beg to differ. Such an approach would see Jazz loyalists voting to leave for the sanctuary of the Yaris, leaving the remainers to wonder what on earth just happened.

2020 new Honda Jazz

Note the two USB ports, the deep cupholder in front of the air vent, the positioning of the LCD touchscreen and the two-spoke steering wheel. Jazz, if I’m honest, you had me at the two-spoke steering wheel. 

There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for when the grandchildren come to visit, wireless smartphone charging, and even a wifi hotspot. Now, Jazz owners can browse the online version of the Daily Express as they enjoy tea from a Thermos on the East Sussex coast.

The unfortunately named Crosstar is a faux crossover I could do without, but no doubt Honda has done its homework. To be fair, the Jazz wears the two-tone paint job rather well. It’s like ‘man at C&A’ has wandered into H&M by mistake.

2020 new Honda Jazz

I’m fully aware that this declaration of love for the new Honda Jazz merely cements my reputation as the odd uncle who is always left off the guest list. The one who’s estranged from the extended family. I’m not concerned.

The world doesn’t need another compact SUV, million-dollar hypercar or ‘Ringmeister. What it needs is an efficient, sensible and clever supermini that’s easy to park, cheap to run and is unlikely to let you down. Jazz hands to that.

Honda e

Honda brings FORWARD electrification deadline to 2022

Honda e

Every mainstream new Honda sold in Europe by 2022 will be electrified, the firm has announced at a headline ‘Electric Vision’ event in Amsterdam. 

This new deadline is three years ahead of its previously-stated 2025 goal.

The firm will also launch an additional all-new battery electric model and an electrified SUV by the end of 2022, as well as the next-generation Civic and HR-V. 

Honda is not giving any further information about the new cars at this stage, however. 

Honda Hybrid

The commitment means every volume Honda model sold will use either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric drive. 

All mainstream non-electrified petrol and diesel cars will cease production for Europe by the end of 2022. 

“This shift to electrification will change the face of our model line-up considerably,” said Tom Gardner, Honda Motor Europe senior vice president.

The firm has new branding for its new approach, Honda e:Technology. 

Honda drive green

The commitment will be achieved by the accelerated launch of six new electrified models over the next 36 months. This includes the next-generation Honda Jazz, revealed at the Amsterdam event. 

On sale from spring 2020, the new Jazz will be fully-electrified for the UK, with a clever e:HEV two-motor hybrid powertrain. 

What about Type R?

Honda is not saying anything about Type R at this stage, other than admitting the storied brand is a key part of its range. 

There are two options – either an electrified Type R version of the next-generation Civic… or a traditional turbo petrol hot hatch. 

Honda has ruled out petrol power only for its mainstream models: specialist low-volume cars such as Type R could still use regular drive. 

It seems almost certain there will be a next-generation Honda Civic Type R. What powers it, however, is another matter…

 

Prices announced for electric Honda e – and it’s not cheap

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

Prices for Honda’s e electric city car have been revealed – alongside a production-ready model – at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.

It starts from £26,160, with deliveries expected to commence by early summer 2020.

Buy on finance for £299 a month

The 100kW Honda e costs from £26,160, although that figure includes the £3,500 government plug-in car grant. Without that, it would be £29,660.

The 113kW ‘Advance’ version begins at £28,660, inclusive of the grant.

Alternatively, Honda e finance starts from £299 per month. That’s based on an 8,000-mile annual limit and 23 percent deposit. Paying £50 a month more gets you into the Advance model, which has an electric centre mirror to accompany the camera side mirrors, plus Honda Parking Pilot.

Honda e Advance – order from today

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

Ordering for the Advance version opens today at dealerships in the UK. Those who made initial reservations will get priority. Expect to receive an invitation to link up with your local dealer if you are among them.

Follow through with the order and you can expect to get one of the first summer 2020 deliveries.

“We’re pleased to be able to confirm the pricing for the Honda e,” said Phil Webb, head of car at Honda UK.

Honda e prices revealed Frankfurt

“Designed for the urban environment, and originally called the Urban EV, the Honda e has a competitive range of up to 136 miles.

“Honda research has found the average European commute is approximately 30 miles, making it more than sufficient. Coupled with the fast-charge capability of 80 percent in 30 minutes, the Honda e is perfect for the urban environment.

“Honda e is the embodiment of the brand’s commitment to electrification and is the next step towards our electric vision for 100 percent of European sales to be electrified by 2025.”

Honda ‘Mean Mower’ breaks lawnmower speed record

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Honda’s ‘Mean Mower’ is now a bona fide world record holder, setting a new Guinness-validated fastest 0-100mph time for a lawnmower.

The Honda packs a 200+hp CBR1000RR Fireblade SP superbike engine and weighs just 69.1kg. That gives it a power to weight ratio superior to a Bugatti Chiron.

With these incredible statistics, and experienced stunt driver, kart and car racer Jess Hawkins at the wheel, it set a time of 6.29 seconds in a sprint from zero to 100mph.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Beyond that record, the Mean Mower went on to hit a top speed of 150.99mph. Yes, a 150mph lawnmower…

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Honda’s racing partner Team Dynamics played a role in realising this manic machine, too.

In order to take the record Mean Mower had actually perform the function of a lawnmower. Its electrically powered carbon fibre blades allow that function when needed.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

Also, in order to gain a record, Guinness mandates that you have to perform twice inside an hour. As such, Mean Mower made two sub-seven-second 0-100mph runs, with an aggregate of 6.29 seconds.

Incredibly, there’s precedent for this, set by Honda itself. Mean Mower V2 succeeds the original Mean Mower. That became the fastest lawnmower in the world in March 2014, hitting 116mph.

Honda's Mean Mower is the fastest lawnmower in the world

“The original Mean Mower was an incredible machine, but this time we’ve taken it to a whole new level with version two,” said Dave Hodgetts, MD of Honda UK.

“After taking the top speed record in 2014, we wanted to do something a little different by setting an all-new record for acceleration, and the result is fantastic. Team Dynamics have gone above and beyond in developing and building this real feat of engineering, and hats off to Jess for being brave enough to get behind the wheel!”

Dancing on ice: learning to drift in a Honda Civic Type R

Civic ice driving

There’s a good reason many of the world’s greatest rally drivers come from Finland. Its roads are one big, snow-covered special stage.

To sample the Finnish way of doing things, we travelled to Kemi, where northern Finland meets the Baltic Sea, to drive Honda Civics on ice.

Front-wheel drive on ice

Honda Civic ice driving

Momentum and weight-transfer are your buzz-words when it comes to hustling a front-wheel-drive car on ice. In a rear-drive sports car, fluffy rooster tails and easy rotation come with a tap of the loud pedal. Not so in a Civic. If anything, there’s a bit more skill involved.

You have to feel how the tyres are interacting with the surface, or you risk understeering into a snowdrift. You need to look a corner or two ahead and think how you approach each turn, in order to set yourself up for the next. Knowing where the car wants to swing is half the battle.

Many marques, including Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Porsche, have their own snow driving experiences. However, you’ll learn just as much from a front-wheel-drive Civic. You might even have more fun, too.

Honda Civic ice driving

Even in a 1.0-litre front-wheel-drive hatchback, there’s a sense of satisfaction and achievement that comes with getting your lines just right.

After plenty of laps, our race-hardened instructor finally shouts with pride – and it’s a good feeling.

Making the sensible Civic come alive

Honda Civic ice driving

Before any tail-out shenanigans can occur, there was a secret code we had to enter into the Civic’s control system. Brake down, handbrake up, clutch in, clutch out, handbrake down, brake up… Don’t quote us on that.

Put it this way, it required some Googling and at least three attempts to disable the stability systems. But once we got there, the tail chased us around and the wheels started scrapping without electronic interruption.

Even Honda admits the 1.0-litre Civic isn’t an exciting car in ordinary circumstances. It isn’t meant to be. Nevertheless, there is a good chassis hiding in there, as evidenced by the rip-snorting Type R version. 

Honda Civic ice driving

However, none of us preferred the Type R in these conditions. The softer suspension of the standard car gelled beautifully with the well-judged steering. Get your eye in after a few laps and a balletic lift-off oversteer dance comes together naturally. 

It shows how much care is given to the development of even ‘everyday’ cars. In the real world, most Civic owners won’t ever experience this. Unless they take a road-trip to Kemi…

Civic Type R tackles the frozen trackHonda Civic ice driving

The Type R initially served to demonstrate how beneficial the 1.0-litre’s softer setup was. However, where the hot hatch jarred in terms of rigidity, it won us over again with a quality gear shift, rorty engine and quick steering.

You can get up a bit more speed, too and on ice, more speed means more momentum. We weren’t using the Type R’s considerable power reserves by any means, but it got us going and the results were lengthy skids and even a couple of transitions. All with front-wheel drive.

Honda Civic ice driving

It was an experience in a part of the world that was utterly unforgettable. I know we all came away better drivers as a result.