Honda Stream RSZ review RN6 1.8


Introduction

Well first and foremost this is the car i drive, but it does not mean biased, my style is to be direct regardless of if its my drive or not!

So what is a Stream, reason i am stating this is that the Stream is a rather rare vehicle in Sri Lanka, specially the cool RN6 version.  The Stream is based the FD-series Civic with an extended wheelbase, and what is categorically defined as the MPV version of the Civic, though in today’s term its more a “crossover” vehicle.  While Honda marketed the RE series as a MPV, the RN series marketing was more sporty, and it said Family coupe.. and you know what, i think that might be a correct definition, coz it definitely looks cool to be called that.

UPDATE (2-Feb-2014):  When i came to part replacement is when i noticed that the Stream and the Crossroad are identical, which makes sense since they are identical vehicles with the same chassis, except that the Crossroad is designed to look like and SUV, while the Stream more car like in design.  The Stream is also more spacious in that it has a longer overall length (hence you actually have a small boot when all seats are up, in the Crossroad there is zero boot space with all seats up), and the Stream also has more head and leg room in the second set of rear seats!  So from a family point of view i can see why the Stream was more popular and continued to sell for many more years unlike the Crossover which was discontinued in just 2+ years in Japan.

Exterior and Design

The design to me is really the key part of the RN6 Stream, as the older generation vehicle looked far too van like.  The RN6 Stream nose is aggressively and masculine, and also very different from the rest of the Honda range.  Initially it looks very different from the FD Civic that its based on, however when you park the car beside one you see both have the same side flanks, and its just the headlights and front grill that makes the cars look drastically different.  See http://specs.cars-directory.net/~compare?ids=NDMwMjEsNTQyOTQ= for a comparison with the equivalent FD series Civic.

The side profile is also very neat and hides the fact that its an MPV.  Loads of my mates mentioned that they don’ t mind owning a MPV if it looks cool as this.  In comparison vehicles such as the rival the Toyota Wish,and the more common Kia Carens.

The rear has some design elements lifted from the RD series CRV, and is less unique than the front design.  But still a very nice job specially when you compare it against most other MPVs and estates.

Interior and Space

The Stream amazes many by the very efficient interior space.  The car though having a 40mm stretch in wheelbase over the FD Civic, has shorter overhangs, so remains nearly the same in length but has vastly greater space.

The vehicle can easily seat someone as tall as 5′ 8″ in the 2nd set of rear seats in comfort!  The middle seats also have very good legroom, and are also very nicely contoured.  However a design element Honda has missed is that they have maintained the same door control layout for the rear, which means you have a 3″ jut in from these handles which reduces the interior width of the car.  With most Japanese cars having to constraint themselves to 1695mm in width, the designers should try to maximize the interior width for the middle seat so that that 3 adults can sit in reasonable comfort, or be able to allow an adult to sit with two car seats which can be a challenge with the Steam (and many other cars).  Making the middle seat controls on the door leaner to say 1″ thick, or placing the on the door would have made this an awesome fully capable 7-seater.  For now i would say its more a 6-seater unless you have 3 kids seated in the middle row seats.

Boot space with the last row folders is good, but once the seats are up the boot space is very minimal.  However i was surprised when i saw the Kia Sorento and the Mitsubishi Montero Sport, two popular 7-seaters in Sri lanka, also have the same volume of boot space when the second set of rear seats is up.  This shows how efficient Honda has been with the interior design, since the vehicle has a much shorter wheelbase than the two other vehicles.

Surprisingly for Honda, the method of getting into the 2nd rear seat can be a challenge as you have to bend and climb, and i would have preferred the fold and drag front style (as done in the Kia Sorento) which is way more easy.  Mazda opted for the sliding door with their Stream competitor the Premacy, but this makes the Mazda look more like van in design, which would put off most sporty crossover owners (like me!).

Performance and Drive

The car definitely is heavier than the FD civic due to the extra bulk, but still the engine has enough zist to keep the smaller 1.5liter engines at bay.  The RSZ spec seems to have a different gearbox to the standard auto, which helps on the performance end.   The paddle shift is an useful addition, and is definitely needed since like any single cam VTEC engines, the low end grunt is lacking, and you need to shift through your gears to get the vehicle moving, though once it is into the 3rd gear there is more grunt especially in S mode.

Update (Jan-2015): The gearbox I am getting the feeling is actually sourced from an Accord, which may explain why its smooth and quite advanced.  Also unlike the FD Civic, this has a normal auto gearbox. The FD Civic 1.8 and 2.0 vehicles have the CVT gearbox that has problems, the normal gearbox on the stream means no such issues as long as you change the oils at the said intervals.

However after test driving my colleagues FD civic, one area the Stream definitely has an edge is that ride and composure.  The ride is more compliant even though the RSZ comes with a more sporty suspension, and also handles rutty gutted roads a lot better.  The additional weight and extended wheelbase also helps in the area of handling, where its more resolved than its sedan counterpart.

Update (Dec-2013): The car has very good acceleration up to around 140-160kmph but after this you notice the vehicle acceleration drops dramatically and its up to the stretch of the road to get more speeds, though if you step on the pedal it is quite capable of picking speeds well above 170kmph.

Update (Feb-2014): I finally found a site that had done some performance test of the Stream, the car is rated at 9.8-10 seconds to 0-100kmph.   This makes it quite nippy for a car carrying a fair amount of weight. The performance of 0-140kmph is also the more important benchmark, as that’s where the more power and larger capacity engine outperforms the 1.5 liter cars that all offer decent 0-100kmph performance, but then trail off.

Fuel Economy

The impact of the additional weight of the vehicle is felt in city driving.  The key reason i noted is that the eco mode of the engine is over 10oorpm and under 1800rpm, a range which is hard to maintain in city conditions.  The engine power and torque graphs i got from another blog site gives you the idea.  Max torque is only at a rather high 4300rpm, which might seem comparable since the Toyota 1.8 VVTi engine also has a max torque at 4400rpm.  But the difference is that the Toyota engine is able to provide a more flatter (less revvy) torque distribution at the lower end that helps it maintain attain the economies while delivery near similar performance.

stream_1

Surprisingly the fuel economies of the Stream are pretty identical to the 150kg lighter 1.8L FD-series Civic, indicating that its engine performance impacting city driving fuel economies more than anything else! Come on Honda, lets have the dohc engines on the range shall we if not the city driving economies of the Honda’s are definitely not going to match the Toyota’s which seems to have oozes of pulling power with minimal RPM that helps them achieve those great fuel economies.

The vehicle performs very well in the highways where it feels more at home, but while the acceleration between 100-140 is superb, the acceleration beyond 160kmph is not great, and a 6-speed gearbox could have improved this.  I took my first drive on the “Southern Express” and had an overall average economy of over 12+ kmpl.  The vehicle was driven in peak day with full AC, and a full load with average speeds around 100+ kmph with a “brief” excursion to 155kmph on the tail of a Suburu Legacy 3.0 (which of course easily sustained and went ahead of the RSZ and seemingly doing well over 180kmph as it blazed ahead)

Update (Dec-2013): If i drove the vehicle around 110-120kmph which seems to its optimal speeds i clocked an indicated 14-18kmpl.

Update (Oct-2014): Drove on the southern express on a very rainy day, and I was mighty impressed on the stability of the vehicle in wet weather.  I had managed to keep up with many cars that were more powerful, and only gave way for a Freelander LR2 SD4, BMW E90 320d and a 520d.  However i found both bimmers and the Freelander slowing down as the weather got rainy, and i had no problems driving on these conditions.  Needless to say i left the bimmers and the Freelander behind as i kept my phase on the wet weather.

Update (Jan-2015): Took another trip on the Southern highway, and this time with 5 adults and 2 kids, and the car did 170kmph, indicating it still has the legs.

City / Urban – Peak Hours 7-8kmpl
City / Urban – Non Peak Hours 8-9kmpl
Outstation / Highway – Narrow roads 9-10kmpl
Outstation / Highway –Wide roads 10-12.5kmpl
Sri Lankan new (proper) highways 14-18kmpl

Cost of ownership

I have now owned this vehicle for almost 2 years, and the vehicle had been run in Japan for 3 years prior to my ownership.  The vehicle has over 80,000km on the odometer, and is still running with the original shocks which are in good condition.

I changed the original Yokohoma tires which seemingly had lasted almost 70,000km which is impressive, but sadly i could not find the identical tires here locally.  I had opt for the Kumho tires and that too a 215/55/17 as opposed to a 205/55/17 which was the original spec on the car.

UPDATE (Dec-2013): The Kumho tires were about 85% wasted (and i had done 28K on the tires) when the tire shop mechanic noted during the tire rotation that there was an unusual split on both the tires in the middle and he advised to replace them.  I then went to the dealer i brought it from (U&H Tire shop) and the sales chap who knew me when said lets ask the agent and see if they can provide you a replacement.  I was then routed to DIMO, who initially said nothing was wrong, and that i could drive safely until the tire wasted.  However i responded back saying the tire dealer had said this is a danger, and if they can vouch for the safety. They promptly then said they will check with the overseas branch and a week later they provide me a full 50-60% discount on top of the discounted rate and sent me two NEW Kumo tires (newer version of what i had).  While initially not impressed by the service, i must say that its good to see them honoring the warranty that we normally take for granted!

Brake pads in the front were changed at 70,000km and i am not sure when the previous owner had replaced the brakes, but i am now into around 10,000km an the brake pads are in good condition.  However i see a tendency for the rear brakes to be used a lot, not sure why.

The air filters required regular replacement mainly due to the very dusty conditions in my my area, where the vehicle is regularly soaked in dust and this causes the air filter to get dirty very quickly, and the impact of a dirty air filter is easily noticed on the pulling of the vehicle and the fuel economy.

One thing that has annoyed me with my Honda Fit and the Stream is that the front head lights start to pick a slight yellow hue, even though they are on stock bulbs, and this ruins the appearance of the car.  In addition with the Stream i noticed some scratch like marks which are internal appearing in the front lights, i am not sure if this is a problem due to the higher temperatures and humidity in Sri Lanka compared to Japan. However with the Stream sold in other Asian countries i am sure Honda should have designed for these challenges.

UPDATE (2-Feb-2014):  The odometer reading is now 105,000km, and the car is still solid.  From maintenance cost, i finally changed the shocks, since this car is not brought down by the dealer i had to get the shocks down.  The cost quoted by Stafford the agent was “crazy” and they wanted 3+ months even to get it by air freight, and i got the same original shocks down through the popular TechMotors for much less. However though i felt the shocks were wasted, the mechanics when replacing indicated that i could have run more (i guess what they say wasted is not to my standard)!  However i proceeded with the replacement since they had removed the units.

UPDATE (NOV-2014): The rattling front rack was driving me nuts, and finally ordered it and replaced it as well as the stabilizer links. I feel the agents diagnosis of the shocks being bad were wrong, it was actually the stabilizer links as the car now feels like new, and with the new rack its really like a new car.

UPDATE (Mar-2015): The odometer is now reading 114,000km, so a light year as i have done just over 9,000km only for an year, and mainly in cursed Colombo traffic 😦  I started getting a bit of humming noise, and the check with the agents mentioned that it was the wheel bearings.  I have ordered them ,and hope to replace them shortly.

Other Reviews

Reviews of this vehicle is harder to find, since the RN6 was not sold outside the Asian market unlike the RE series Stream.  Main reason being not to cannibalize their Civic and CRV sales, as the Stream and Fit together effectively took the Civic out of the Japanese domestic market!

Hence formal reviews are hard to but since i purchased this car without having a single vehicle to test drive (the RN6 had not been imported until then into Sri Lanka), I had to go by the reviews.  I did test drive the Wish and found it very bland (AE121 corolla with an extended un-seductive body!)

Here are links to reviews online on the car for anyone who is looking for a sporty yet practical vehicle that can seat 7 adults when required! and on any other day take it as a sporty sedan with a larger boot 🙂

A magazine article i found on the net to add to the knowledge base. TORQUE-August07-Civic-Shuttle-Service-Honda-Stream

UPDATE (10-Oct-2014): Found this great link that has the original brochures for Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong in scanned high res JPEGs https://www.flickr.com/photos/63416089@N06/collections/72157631864295137/

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Honda Civic Hybrid FD3 Sedan quick review


A colleague of mine purchased an FD3 Honda Civic Hybrid.  The car was a reconditioned (used) in UK, and then imported into Sri Lanka.  The chap had a long and very happy ownership history with a Honda HRV for almost 8 years, and had got very attached to the rather revvy nature of the CVT gearbox.  Sadly the HRV an unique piece of Honda engineering was never continued, with the FRV dying a sad death, and the rather promising and direct spiritual successor based on the FD series Civic called the Crossroad discontinued abruptly in 2010 after just 2 years in the market.

Hence the vehicle that met his budget and was from the Honda shed were the Insight and the Honda Civic Hybrid.  The Insight was taken out for it rather quirky “rear end” (shared with the Prius), thanks to the designer going hell bent on aerodynamics and forgetting that cars also need look good all-around (the front of the Insight is really cool, the rear undoes the whole design).

The Civic Hybrid (and the Insight) is a lot simpler in its Hybrid implementation compared to the Prius, and the key difference is felt in fuel economies in city driving, where the Prius will always have the advantage due to its superior ways of charging and using the battery for operation.  Anyways not going to spend time on the Prius vs Honda implementation (another article for that!), but lets get to the Civic quick review 🙂

Exterior

What can i say, looks pure FD Civic, and one would think this is the 1.6L Civic (single exhaust, the larger engines have the dual exhaust pipes), bar the blue tint on the headlights except for the giveaway pure sci-fi type alloy wheels.   I am sure the alloys must be made of some super light material, but come on Honda what about the cool factor, it makes the vehicle look rather dull.  Hybrid does not mean dull (Hint CR-Z Mugen prototype!), the CR-Z for that matter has some cool wheels, and the normal Civic alloys themselves would have done good.

Interior and space

Again not that different from the standard FD civic (which makes it uber cool with that lovely futuristic dashboard, just which my Stream had that digital speed indicator), though i feel the rear legroom has been reduced possibly to accommodate the batteries.  I liked the seat material, and it seems the high quality (soft feel) Alcantra is standard across the range, nice.

However not all the vehicles are of the same standard.  The photos were taken from another office mates car, a car imported from Japan than the UK.  Here the Alcantra option is not available except on higher grades, and the material is more like you see in a standard Civic.

Performance and drive

Well i expected bog slow progress, and was i surprised.  Though a 1.3L supported by a very small electric motor, the car accelerates quite decently, and this is an achievement considering all the non hybrid versions are far more powerful.  In S mode the in gear changes are even more pronounced that for most it should be more than enough (I mean Toyota Corolla/Axio users, etc).  The ride is also very compliant, that even non Honda buyers (Toyota buyers) should be seriously looking at this car, since it is over 40% cheaper in Sri Lanka than the equivalent Prius!

The only quirk was the hybrid part, where you can hear a small motor sound as you brake (the owner indicated this was part of the hybrid setup) and the slight difference in feel to a normal car in breaking.  The handling was in the same likes of a Civic (and a Stream like i drive).

Fuel Economy

****Will update once i get hold of the figures for other conditions.

Unusually the car is very sensitive to driving style in peak (city) driving conditions.  Aggressive driving seems to take the toll, and the best approach seems to be to take off slow, cruise and then break hard.   This style ensures maximum use of the battery in cruise mode, and also maximum charge of the battery by harder breaking.  Adjusting to this style may not be to everyone’s taste.

City / Urban – Peak Hours 8.5 – 12kmpl
City / Urban – Non Peak Hours
Outstation / Highway – Narrow roads
Outstation / Highway –Wide roads  18 – 22kmpl

Battery Care

One of my friend’s who owns the Civic Hybrid had to leave the country for over 6 months. He had left the car in the garage, and once he started to use it he noticed a that the battery no longer is able to charge to levels it did before.  The normal charge capacity is 70%, but he now only gets 35%.  When he spoke to many Hybrid service centers they confirmed that just like any battery if its not used the battery being a Ni-MH type the battery forgets.

The easy and costly solution is to replace the battery, and he had been quoted Sri Lankan Rupees 350,000 (around US$3000) for an used battery with 6 months warranty. However another contact, supposedly who used to be the GM at Arabian Motors has said he can revive the battery, and also replace some of the dead cells and the cost of such would be around SRi Lankan Rs 150,000 (around US$1000).  My friend who is also a major research type person has found the revival option has been known to be successful based on the Internet forums, and is hoping to pursue that.

However the learning from this is a good one, don’t keep the car unused for long periods the benefit of the Hybrid battery reduces and also can be costly to revive/refresh the battery.

Conclusion

If not for the concern over the maintenance and lack of warranty (since these are used cars brought from UK and Japan), the hybrid cars truly make sense, since the severe city congestion situations make the hybrid consistently return good fuel economies.

The Civic and the Insight unlike the Prius attempt to keep some sense of driving feel, the Civic more than the Insight, which makes it a good alternative to to a petrol car.  However if you can afford the diesels remain the top of the choice as they return even better fuel economies with no loss in power or overheads in worries such as battery issues.  But for most specially in Sri Lanka where the duty on hybrids is lower than the equivalent petrol or diesel, Hybrids are very good alternatives, and hopefully we will see the agents or some aftermarket garages provided proper support to maintain and fix these vehicles.

But if you really need power 🙂 and green, then its either the hopefully to be released Mugen CR-Z or the electric powered sports cars!

3G+WiFi Samsung Galaxy Tab2 10.1 For sale

Posted by A.Mughal ‎06 Jun 07:00 pm, RatmalanaFavorite 

Galaxy Tab2 10.1 P5100 For Quick SALE brand new condition, android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean updated.
Carefully USED for few months.
Still under more then 7months ETISALAT warranty.

International version, Factory unlocked. Original made per Samsung
Bought from Etisalat

Wifi + 3G version ( Tablet with support for GSM voice Calls, SMS, and MMS )

NOTE : Its not Chinese / Vietnam or Anycall clone version.

With full set of same IMEI box and accessories + wireless keyboard pouch

White colour,

Internal Memory 16GB, 1 GB RAM, SD Card upto 32 GB.

HSPA Speed: 21 Mbps, Wifi hotspot
Dual camera ( front facing + back camera 3.5MP for excellent video calls )

Dual-core 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9.

LONG lasting Battery: Li-po 7000 mAh battery,

Send me your highest offer via SMS,
(Please… serious buyers only ,No time wasters )
= ( slightly nego.
= expected ) =

NOTE = Please read above mentioned details carefully if still it fits to your need then only call or SMS. Thanks

Exchange possible Only with original Samsung Galaxy NOTE 2 n7100 / Nokia lumia 920 windows 8 smart phones / Sony Xperia Z

BMW E46 320d very (quick) brief review


I had the rather unexpected opportunity when attending the birthday of a classmate of my wife’s, to be given the key by the birthday girl’s hubby to his new toy, an BMW e46 320d.  Yes an E46, old but still a car that i always had loved to drive, but never got a chance.  The car had a 5-sp auto box, not something a BMW 3-series owner usual buys, but this chap had hunted one down due to the very long drives in congested traffics the car would be used daily, but loved the logo and its driver oriented design/performance.

It has been years since i got close to anything called crazy driving, but the chap was keen that I push the car, though I was not as confident since you do not want to take too many a risk with someone else’s car, and also not knowing the true limits and issues of car means reservations.

The drive that was supposed to be just a quick spin around the blocks became a 30 min drive across small lanes, and some “highways” in Sri Lanka (aka the Ratmalana and Panadura road to be more precise).  Just as we got into the highway, I felt the presence of a bright white light following us, and moves aside to see what it was, and it turned out to be a brand new BMW X1! The owner of the BMW told me, let us give chase to see if this older car is capable of keeping up with a near similar car, and chase we did.  The X1 owner was all up for the game and was seen doing some serious zig zag moves indicating he was willing to risk the new shiny toy, though i was a little more reluctant considering the car was not mine.

Though both had similar powered engines, the 320d with the 5-sp auto box, against the newer 8-sp autobox x1 was always going to be an advantage, but the old sedan kept up, and was keeping pace well over over the 1×0+ speeds.  Also impressive was how well the X1 with its high ride did, and the ride was made one crazy rush before we turned back.  However X1 owners be happy that X1 definitely was able to pull away even with the 320d in mode, but not by much.

Initial impression was the impressive acceleration specially into 2nd gear, where you felt the car push forward and you get thrown back a bit.  The torque clearly made its presence, and it was a joy when overtaking.  The S mode was a lot more aggressive than the D mode, but i did notice that even in S mode the programming being hesitant to drop the gear if the revs were over 2000rpm.  Only later did i learn that you had use the +/- to get the best of this car.

The gear change in the autobox was clearly a lot more smoother and quicker than my Stream RSZ, and with the +/- and S mode you would not have much reservations of not having a manual box.  The ride was surprisingly quite compliant, and handled most rutty roads with confidence with only severe potholes intruding.   The engine clutter outside was quite bad, something that surprised me since the car had just run 31,000km, but inside the insulation from noises were very impressive.

The driving position was superb, and it made you feel part of the car, and the steering weight a sheer delight, and you were reminded what you missed with electric power steering.  The beauty was that it was not too heavy at slow speeds, and was very responsive at higher speeds.