Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Honda Grace

Following last year's launch of the Honda Accord Hybrid, which signals the first for the Japanese carmaker's EARTH DREAMS Sedan Series where all four door saloons will be hybrid-only and while the Accord spearheaded this new range, we can expect two more such as the flagship Legend that comes with the same tech as the NSX Concept and this, the Honda Grace hybrid compact saloon.

2015 Honda Grace

Of course, this car looks familiar to the eyes of ASEAN Honda fans because the Grace is how you say Honda City is Japanese, much like its predecessor, the Fit Aria. Like the old Fit Aria, the new Grace is based on the third-generation Honda Fit and because this is based on the latest Fit, the only powertrain available is the 1.5L petrol engine connected to an electric motor and Li-ion battery. The gearbox offered for this compact hybrid saloon is, you guessed it, a 7-speed double clutch gearbox from the Fit. This tech is part of the Japanese carmaker's SPORT HYBRID lineup and if you're new here or if you forgot about what's what, let me give you a quick refresher.

This significantly advanced lightweight and compact one-motor system developed for Honda's next generation of compact cars combines a 1.5L engine with a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox containing an integrated, high-output electric motor powered by the car’s lithium-ion batteries. When going and high speeds, both the electric motor and the engine kicks in for combined power while in low speeds, the batteries are in charge.

Now that you get the idea, do you think this method worked? It's a possible yes but with added consequences as this tech faced numerous recalls due to some faulty glitches on the gearbox and since the Grace is a new car that has the same clever hybrid tech as the Fit and Vezel, let's hope that same mistake won't happen again...unless Honda's going to make another move when their double clutch gearboxes on their compact hybrids gone nuts.

2015 Honda Grace

Anyway, with this clever tech, the Grace delivers an impressive fuel economy of 34.4kmpl by Japan's JC08 Mode standards but if you opt for the EX model with paddle shifters on it, it will be dropped to 31.4kmpl. Either way, the Grace is much more enjoyable to own than its chief rival, the Toyota Corolla Axio Hybrid, but no matter the variant, the Grace feels like a cheap car built for comfort. It may not be a fun car to drive on the open road but its state as a city car is not half bad. It feels like your ears have been plugged by some super-cozy headphones on the go. If you opt in for the 4WD system, the Grace feels like it's ready to go with the current of the times because of its mild grip suitable enough for any weather although its added weight makes it prone to understeer.

2015 Honda Grace interior

2015 Honda Grace interior

While the Grace is a bit average to drive, the design is somewhat average. It maybe great to look at but it can be somewhat dull and repetitive inside and out because this interior feels like it's been carried over from its Fit and Vezel relatives but if you opt in for more expensive versions, you'll get some toys to play around inside thanks to its satellite navigation system. Not only that, it hosts a wide array of safety features such as the City Brake Active System, and Emergency Stop Signal, among many others.

So, would you buy the Grace? For this time, it starts at 1,950,000 Japanese Yen (around $20,000) so that's more costly than the Toyota Axio Hybrid but more valuable than its big brother, the Honda Accord Hybrid so it's a smart value for a car that succeeds where the Insight and the Fit Aria left off. This car really lives up to its name, sort of.

Available colors: White Orchid Pearl, Alabaster Silver Metallic, Tinted Silver Metallic, Crystal Black Pearl, Premium Deep Rosso Pearl, and Gold Brown Metallic.

Photo: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

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