In May 2007 after a long wait of 5 months, my IMA arrived. After 33 months and 43000 kms (~ 26000 miles), here is my review.
The IMA II, is based on the 7th generation chassis (although with a series of improvements) and follows the classic line of a typical sedan. Although I was in love with the hatchback version (and still it impresses me a lot), I made a “pro-environmental” choice.
Space - Internal
Space is adequate for 4 adults (with lots of leg space for the rear passengers) and for short distances it can accommodate 5 (although there are some weight limits). Trunk space is nothing in particular due to the placement of the battery pack and in addition, there is no option of folding the rear seat, which limits the usability of the vehicle.
The seats are comfortable (although I would like to my micro-adjustments with the inclination of the driver’s back) and the materials are of excellent quality in feel and in durability. After nearly 3 years, nothing (or nearly) fills loose or worn. This is a pleasant surprise in contrast with my experience with a VW Golf (4th generation). Still a small piece of plastic every now and then gets loose and I have to put it in its place.
Engine – CVT
The first thing you notice is the excellent blending of the electrical motor (which assists the ICE) and the ICE via a CVT transmission. Power is adequate when the battery pack is full. The CVT really makes long distance travel easy since at 120 km/h (75 mph) the engine revs at just over 2000 rpm. Still, when you press the gas pedal to the floor you notice some lag (as the transmission “kicks-down” and the electric motor starts to kick in) the engines revs close to the red-line and you get this strange feeling of acceleration under constant engine speed. Eventually you will get use to it but at first, it is rather odd.
The driver’s seat is where you want it but the steering wheel will only travel up and down. So you have to make a compromise especially in my case where my arms are a bit longer than the median (my tailor always adds 0.5 of an inch in the sleeves). Still since you can get the seat up and down, it will not be difficult to find a good position.
Ergonomically some oddities existed in this first series of IMAs that in the recent facelift are corrected. In the first place, the indications for the fog lights are more intuitive now. In addition, my IMA had no central locking and unlocking button for the passenger doors which is now standard. Finally, the buttons that control the indications of the trip computer (which in the IMA is primitive to say the least) are small for my taste. Apart from all this little things, the buttons are where you expect them to be and the feeling is right.
Interpreting the information from the dashboard is intuitive but it takes some time to get used to it. There are two zones. The top zone provides info regarding, speed, gas level, engine temperature or instantaneous consumption (in lt/100 km only in the LHD European Version I drive). The main zone provides the rest of the information. All the info concerning the HVAC and Radio-CD is provided by two small screens in the center of the dashboard.
The old chassis has an advantage here. This is the rear double wishbone suspension. In Greece, where roads are “rough” to say the least, they are horrible but this is another story, independent suspension is a blessing in terms of handling. Due to the placement of the battery pack (above the rear axis), weight balance is not as bad as in a typical hatchback and under steering is less pronounced. The long wheelbase (2703 mm according to the specs) and the weight distribution offer excellent stability although agility is compromised. The steering wheel is excellent in feel (although not as heavy as I would like) and the VSA is not evasive. Bear in mind that, the IMA is not built to be a sports car so it will not feel comfortable in a closed track with tight bends.
Stability is excellent even at top speed (180 km/h or 112.5 mph since there is an electronic speed limiter) with the feel of the steering wheel largely unaffected by the lift generated.
The original tires were not up to my expectations. Roads in Greece are slippery and the tires were showing difficulty to reach their operating temperatures (DUNLOP SP 3000). The problem was addressed when four Michelin Energy Savers were mounted (I tire that needs less time and effort to reach operating temperatures).
Regenerative braking, in some cases, confuses the driver. The brakes are adequate in normal driving conditions but stopping distances are compromised a bit (this is something you know when you buy a hybrid). Fading was not an issue in my case but I am driving like a granny so I can’t give reliable info about this phenomenon.
The suspension settings are oriented towards comfort and the relatively high profile tires help in this respect (65 series). Still the suspension is a bit rough when crossing bumps (typical for a car built in Japan) and rebound damping is “weak”. The latter creates some problems when you have to travel in poor roads (something typical in Greece).
Noise is kept at low levels mainly due to the CVT transmission. NVH engineers did a good job overall. At speeds above 140 km/h there is some aerodynamic noise but nothing in particular. Even at top speed (the engine revs above 4000 rpm) the noise level is acceptable.
HVAC – Instrumentation – Other Accessories
Climate control is excellent. The car responded well in conditions of extreme heat (temperatures above 48 degrees Celsius back in the summer of 2007 which from a European perspective are extreme) and in cold weather as well. The Radio-CD is ok with average sound quality and it can handle mp3 and wma files without a problem (even in the case of VBR). Cruise Control helps to maintain a constant speed and it is frequently used but it over-reacts in some cases. Lights are adequate. The wipers look efficient and aerodynamic but their performance is average.
Folding mirrors are necessary in Athens (where narrow roads and double-parked vehicles are the order of the day). Heated seats not so.
I had to replace the Radio-CD after six months of service. It was covered by the warranty. The rear shock-absorbers were also replaced after 2 years of service under warranty.
Detailed info can be found here Details: Honda - Civic Hybrid - IMA CVT
). It took me some time to learn the “gliding” techniques of driving a mild hybrid like the Honda IMA. During the summer of 2008 when gas prices reached the sky driving like a granny paid off with average consumption dropping at or below 5 lt/100 km (47 mpg US/56 mpg imp) reaching a low of 4.7 lt/100 km (50 mpg US). Still without killing yourself from boredom, a 6.0 lt/100 km is easily attainable in city conditions (not in Athens with an average of 7 km/h) and 5.5 lt/100 km in highway. In level country roads is easy to attain consumption below 5 lt/100 km with a speed of 55 to 60 mph (90 to 100 km/h).
Things wishing for
1. IMA is ok but is only IMA. An increase of the power output of the electric motor to 30 hp (22 kW) would be beneficial to say the least. An increase of the capacity of the battery pack will also help,
2. Folded rear seats,
3. A hatchback version (with smaller external dimensions),
4. A more powerful ICE, (i.e. the 120 hp 1.5 lt unit of the CR-Z is a good start)
5. HID lights,
6. An increase of carrying capacity,
Things I wish to remain the same
1. Independent rear suspension,
2. Width of the bodywork.