Performance and innovation in Motegi
Text and photos by Dino Ray V. Directo III
Motegi, Japan-Two days before the highly anticipated staging of this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Honda Cars Philippines Inc (HCPI) took its media contigent to the hollowed grounds of Twin Ring Motegi, Honda’s ground zero to test drive their latest hybrid and fuel cell powered cars. A sidetrip to Motegi was a treat for its guests, as we got to experience the brand’s history by way of a visit to the Honda Collection Hall.
Situated in Oaza Hiyama, Motegi-machi, Hagu-gun, Tochigi, the Honda Collection Hall lies within Twin Ring Motego, an amusement park and racetrack where the Japan Grand Prix, Super GT and Moto GP are held annually. It is 150 kilometers north from Tokyo.
The trip to the Honda Collection is car and motorbike enthusiasts dream where some 300 plus restored and preserved motorcycles, automobiles, race cars are on display in a three level building.
With our hosts Lyka-Mae dela Cruz and Rome Lopez of HCPI acting our tour guides, our group of eager pen pushers who are diehard motorsports fans had a field day going through the entire collection of historic race cars and Moto GP bikes which also includes a robotic history of ASIMO, Honda’s famous robot.
The first floor is the “exhibits hall” where you’ll see a vintage racing motorcycle, sports cars and the ASIMO and robotics display on your right. The second floor is home to restored production vehicles where you’ll see rare pocket rockets in pristine condition such as the early version of the Honda City, the CRX and the awesome Type R versions of the Civic and the Integra plus the NSX-R.
The third floor was a boy racer’s dream, where Honda packed the floor with Moto GP bikes which had Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha championship bike, Super GT machines, JGTC-Spec Honda Accord and the famous Honda Civic Motul race car. Also on display were the Formula One cars of John Surtees and the Honda-McLaren F1 car of Ayrton Senna.
The Honda Collection Hall is a fitting tribute to Honda’s humble beginnings and up to becoming a global innovator in automotive technology and a powerhouse in motorsports.
Tomorrow’s car tested
After an exciting visit to the Collection Hall, our group were taken to a small test track within Twin Ring Motegi to test the Honda Clarity line up. Launched early this year in the United States, motoring media from South East Asia got some much needed downtime with thethird generation fuel-cell powered vehicle.
This time, Honda prepared two versions of the Clarity, the fuel-cell version and the Hybrid version. The test was in relation to Honda’s Vision 2030, a plan which aims to sell two thirds electric cars to the global market by that time. My first encounter with the Clarity was at the Tokyo Auto Salon in 2015. Two years later, I find myself at a test track with fully functional models and a stripped and lightened performance version.
The first variant that I tested was the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which is aimed at buyers who is conscious about the carbon footprint of his vehicle. It runs on gasoline like a regular carm but it needs to be plugged into a wall socket overnight.
Honda engineers pointed out that the 1500cc Atkinson cycle gas engine behaves like a charger-generator. On a full charge, one can drive the Clarity over 100kms in pure electric mode. Before the batteries die out, the 1500cc engine kicks in to recharge the batteries while the car is in motion.
The other variant was the Clarity FCV which Honda says is the ultimate long term solution for the preservation of our environment. Being an all electric car, this Clarity produces zero emissions. It also emite zero noise and zero harmful emissions. It has a class leading range of 750kms and a 130W/300Nm AC Synchronous motor.
As added bonus to the motoring media, Honda allowed each of us to ride shotgun on a “race” version of the Clarity. It was not Super GT 300 fast, but it was fast enough for the tires to screech around the bends and scratch the pavement of the test track.