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Honda: Clean, Refined and Versatile

SWINDON is the home town of Melinda Messenger, Billie Piper and Honda in the UK.
And, weirdly, their cars are very like the TV babes - attractive, quirky, friendly and dependable.

But now Honda are about to go from attractive to super-sexy. Last week they pulled the wraps off their new CR-Z hybrid sports coupé in Detroit, pictured far right. It's set to be the best-looking and most affordable hybrid on the road. The CR-Z will be powered by a 1.5-litre engine and, with battery-driven assistance, it should deliver 122bhp and 0-62mph in about nine seconds. Fuel economy will be around 55mpg and CO2 emissions 100g/km. Expect to pay £18,000 when it goes on sale later this year.

Honda also have a stunning Ford S-Max rival on the way - the Skydeck hybrid - which they unveiled at the Tokyo show last year. The sleek MPV is likely to replace the FR-V for Europe, although it has a more conventional three rows of seats instead of the previous car's two benches. And they may also be about to launch an electric city car - a Japanese version of the Fiat 500 or Smart Fortwo. The funky and retro-looking EV-N concept, which uses the N360 hatch of the 1960s as inspiration, is slightly longer than a Fortwo. The four-seat EV-N is designed for urban motoring and has a lithium-ion battery pack.

Honda have also confirmed a petrol/electric Jazz will go on sale by the end of next year, and they hope to increase hybrid sales to 500,000 cars a year - roughly 15 per cent of their total sales - early in this decade.

I also drove their outstanding FCX Clarity Hydrogen-powered car last year and that could make its way to the UK in the coming months.

But, in total contrast to the green and futuristic motors to come from Honda, their first new car so far in 2010 is the big-selling CR-V. This 4x4, along with Civic hatchback and Jazz mini, are the foundations of what makes this firm so big in the UK.

The Page 3 and Doctor Who hotties may have left Swindon... but it remains one of the UK's few motoring hotspots thanks to Honda.

Read the full article at: Clean, Refined and Versatile | The Sun |Motors|Phil Lanning
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