Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Honda's New Compact SUV: VEZEL

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Honda Vezel

Honda is riding the wave of the new model launches to conclude an amazing 2013, delivering yet another new model. This time round, it is the long awaited compact SUV, the VEZEL. There has been no answer to the Toyota Rush/Daihatsu Terios and the newer coupe-like Nissan Juke segment of cars from Honda for many years. We saw the potential challenger in the Honda Fit Twist, based on the GE platform but it is only exclusively for Brazil.

Honda Fit Twist crossover

Honda Fit Twist


The VEZEL sports Honda's latest design theme "Solid Wing Face" and the latest Earthdreams Sport Hybrid drivetrain i-DCD. While there is no news on what models the 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo engine would be installed to, CEO Ito has mentioned that the US-bound VEZEL is likely to be equipped with a turbocharged engine. With this, I believe VEZEL will develop into a challenger to the Juke turbo. I am happy to see the tuned up version of the Sport Hybrid drivetrain in the Vezel as this drivetrain is expected to deliver a sportier drive through the dual clutch system. 
Reading the specifications of the Fit Hybrid already sent me itching for a test drive of the latest drivetrain, which again has been a long wait too. With direct injection and the hybrid system, this realized maximum system output of 112 KW (152 PS)*9 that is equivalent to that of a 2.0 L engine and higher than the Fit Hybrid! The latest hybridization plans from Honda certainly seemed to have upped the developmental results in this aspect over Toyota. The key determinant of success would be the real world fuel efficiency results.
At this point, I am excited and optimistic that Honda would achieve success with the new Sport Hybrid drivetrains as it is in line with Honda's mission of delivering the joy of driving. Honda's product plans have also become much more globalized as reflected in the closer launch dates for various countries for new models such as Odyssey and City. Reinforcing this is the news by CEO Ito that a version of Vezel will head for the US in the very near future.

Honda got us excited in the late 2013, and hopefully the excitement can be kept all the way to 2015 when the flagship supercar NSX will be launched alongside the S660. That will definitely be a key milestone for Ito's leadership. Meanwhile, let's savour the VEZEL.

The Honda Official Press Release is attached below.

Honda to Begin Sales of New Vehicle "VEZEL"

TOKYO, Japan, December 19, 2013 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that it will begin sales of the VEZEL in Japan on December 20, 2013. The VEZEL is a new vehicle that belongs to a new category of automobiles that fuses together multifaceted values, including the dynamic qualities of an SUV, the elegance of a coupe, the functionality of a minivan and excellent fuel economy, at a high level. A 4WD type will also be available for both the hybrid and gasoline models.
VEZEL HYBRID Z (FWD)zoom
VEZEL HYBRID Z (FWD)
VEZEL HYBRID Z (FWD)zoom
VEZEL HYBRID Z (FWD)
The beautiful and elegant exterior form of the VEZEL fuses together SUV-like stability and coupe-like styling to realize an emotional design that stimulates people's senses.
The interior, created through a comprehensive effort to realize a high quality feeling for both the look and texture, creates a coupe-like personal space for the front seats. At the same time, Honda's original center-tank layout enabled a large cargo space and minivan-like rear seats with ample elbowroom beyond what people can imagine from the elegant exterior form.
The VEZEL HYBRID is equipped with SPORT HYBRID i-DCD*1, Honda's next-generation hybrid system that combines a 1.5 L direct injection engine with a high-output motor to realize overwhelming high power that is comparable to that of a 2.0 L engine*2 and an exhilarating driving feeling. In the area of environmental performance, this hybrid model realizes 27.0 km/L*3 (JC08mode), the highest fuel economy in its class*4 in Japan. Moreover, the VEZEL HYBRID will be the first among all Honda hybrid models to be equipped with Honda's original Real Time AWD, which controls torque distribution to the front and rear wheels precisely through electronic control.
In addition, for smart operation, all VEZEL types feature advanced technologies and functions normally associated with high-end models, such as the Electric Parking Brake and the Automatic Brake Hold, as standard equipment. Furthermore, high-performance soundproofing materials and dampers, which are typically used for high-end sedan models, are adopted to realize outstanding quietness and driving stability. Furthermore, hybrid model is equipped with the Reactive Force Pedal that assists fuel-efficient driving by applying reactive force to the accelerator. The VEZEL HYBRID will be the first among all Honda hybrid models to be equipped with the Reactive Force Pedal.
< Naming Concept of VEZEL >
VEZEL is a name coined from an English word “bezel” which means the oblique faces of a cut gem together with the “V” for “vehicle.” The name represents Honda's passion to create a vehicle which offers multifaceted charm and value, just like a cut gem, which changes its look depending on the angle.
*1
i-DCD stands for Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive.
*2
Comparison with maximum output of Honda's 2.0 L vehicle
*3
HYBRID (FWD) tested by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
*4
SUV class excluding EV and plug-in hybrid models (As of December 2013, Honda internal research)

[ Key features of VEZEL ]

• Exterior design pursues the high-quality merger of the dynamic qualities of an SUV and the elegance of a coupe

  • The exterior design was developed under the concept of “Dynamic Cross Solid.” The distinctive and sharp character lines fuse together two elements of the vehicle body – the SUV-like stable lower body and coupe-like upper body. The stylish exterior design adds a glow to the people on the vehicle.
  • A sharp and elegant expression was realized by the adoption of headlights that feature two LED lights on each side*5. Moreover, an LED light guiding stripe was adopted for all rear combination lamps for hybrid models, enhancing the wide look of the vehicle and expressing its innovativeness and high-quality.
  • The rear outer door handles are integrated into the window graphics, creating a 2-door-coupe-like feel.
*5
Available for selected types

•Interior design fuses together the personal feel of a coupe and the comfort of a minivan at a high level

  • Developed under the concept of “Expansible Cockpit,” the interior design pursues both spaciousness and a personal feel.
  • Striving to realize a high-quality and comfortable cabin space, soft materials are used for most of occupant touch points. For the soft pads, a stitching line is featured to emphasize the sense of craftsmanship. LED lighting was adopted for the front-map-lamps and room-lamps of all types as part of the comprehensive effort to achieve a quality feeling.
< Front seats >
  • The smooth instrument panel, which highlights the spacious feeling, and the advanced and high-quality high-deck center console create a personal space for both front seat occupants.
  • The high-deck center console features flexible drink holders with a bottom that can be adjusted to change the depth according to the height of drink containers.
  • The fully automatic air-conditioning unit was adopted for all types. Wide flow air-conditioning units featuring the design of a horizontal straight line are installed on the front passenger side, realizing a simple design and comfortable air flow.
< Rear seats >
  • Knee room is spacious like minivans.
  • The length of the seat bottom was increased to the point where it is equivalent to that of high-end sedan models, and the seatback angle was optimized to realize seating posture that provides a high sense of security and is less tiring even during a long drive.

•The package incorporates spaciousness and user-friendliness within an easy-to- handle body size

  • The minimum turning radius of 5.3 m was realized, making this vehicle easy to handle on narrow roads in urban areas, parking lots, intersections, etc.
  • From the perspective of aerodynamics and driving performance, the overall vehicle height was kept low, while setting the eye point at the perfect height that offers both great viewpoint and sense of security. A wide viewing angle was secured through the optimization of the width and angle of the front pillars.
  • The low, wide and square floor creates outstanding user-friendliness of the cargo room. With the cargo capacity of 404 L*6 three regular golf bags*7 can be loaded while using rear seats.
  • The tailgate opening is as wide as 1,180 mm, making it easy to load and unload large-sized luggage such as a golf bag*7. The ground height of the tailgate opening is set as low as 650 mm, one of the lowest within the class*8, which makes it easy to load and unload heavy items.
  • For the rear seats, split fold-down seats with a 6:4 tip-up and dive-down mechanism are adopted for a versatile seating arrangement.
*6
Including the capacity of the cargo box underneath of the cargo room floor. Measured internally by Honda
*7
9.5-inch golf bag. Depending on the shape of a golf bag, there may be a case where three bags cannot be loaded.
*8
1.5 L - 2.0 L SUV class (As of December 2013, Honda internal research)

•Advanced functions provide smart driving assistance

  • The Electric Parking Brake, which can be put on with an easy pull of the switch and released when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal, is featured as standard equipment on all types.
  • The Automatic Brake Hold function is featured as standard equipment on all types. When the driver activates the system by pressing a switch while stopping for a traffic light or traffic congestion, the system automatically holds the vehicle in position without the driver stepping on the brake, and the system automatically releases the brake when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal.
  • The Reactive Force Pedal assists fuel-efficient driving through control of the reaction force of the accelerator, and is standard equipment on all hybrid models. The system applies reactive force on the accelerator pedal when the driver steps on it excessively. The relative force also is applied when driving on slippery surfaces such as icy roads.

•The fun of driving and a high quality feel were fused together for driving performance which is built on the sense of security

  • For hybrid models, direct-injection technology was adopted for the 1.5 L engine of the SPORT HYBRID i-DCD, the lightweight and compact one-motor hybrid system which can power the vehicle through EV driving alone. This realized maximum system output of 112 KW (152 PS)*9 that is equivalent to that of a 2.0 L engine. The fuel economy of 27.0 km/L (JC08mode), the highest fuel economy among all SUV models sold in Japan was realized through intelligent use of three different driving modes depending on the driving situation. Moreover, the paddle shifter, which enables the driver to enjoy high output of a direct-injection engine and the direct feel of DCT, is featured as standard equipment on all hybrid models.
  • Gasoline models are equipped with a 1.5 L direct-injection engine and realize powerful driving and excellent fuel economy of 20.6 km/L*10 (JC08 mode).
  • Adoption of high-performance sound absorbing and insulating materials, which are typically used for high-end sedan models, realizes outstanding quietness.
  • Adoption of the Amplitude Reactive Dampers, which demonstrate optimal damping characteristics in accordance with driving scenes, enhances occupant comfort and driving stability at a high level.
  • An inner-frame structure and super high tensile material (high-tensile sheet steel) are adopted to approximately 20% of the overall body frame, realizing a lightweight and highly-rigid body that generates linear driving.
*9
Maximum output of the hybrid system consists of the engine and motor. Measured internally by Honda
*10
G (FWD) and X tested by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

•Real Time AWD, which realizes both the ability to cover various ground and excellent fuel economy, is also adopted for a hybrid model (first time for Honda hybrid models)

  • The Real Time AWD, which electronically, precisely and quickly controls the driving force of the rear wheels, is available for selected types of both hybrid and gasoline models.
  • Based on the information collected through multiple sensors, the ECU accurately detects the driving situation and determines the amount of torque necessary for the front and rear wheels. The system instantaneously distributes an appropriate amount of torque for the rear wheels and smoothly shifts to 4WD.
  • The VEZEL exclusive setting, that distributes more torque to the rear wheels during cornering, enhances the exhilarating feeling.

•Incorporating advanced safety performance

  • Outstanding passive safety is realized through the adoption of the next generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body and the Pedestrian Injury Mitigation Body. The ACE body applies Honda's original G-Force Control Technology (G-CON) to enhance self-protection and make it less aggressive to other vehicles in the event of a collision. The Pedestrian Injury Mitigation Body structure also absorbs the impact of a collision in the front part of the body, which is at the highest risk of causing a pedestrian injury in the event of a collision.
  • Offering a range of enhanced safety features, the City-Brake Active System is available on selected models. The City-Brake Active System supports safe driving and mitigates accidental damage from a collision or when the vehicle starts moving forward. The system is accompanied by a side curtain airbag system and a front seat i-side airbag system (variable capacity type).

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