Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Road Test - Honda Stream RSZ 1.8

When Practical Meets Style

Honda's people-mover, the Stream, has received updates that highlight the very useful runabout's pseudo-sporting ambitions.

When it comes to practicality, Honda has certainly proved its worth to the industry with its Stream. The second generation Stream is the Honda Stream RSZ and as you can expect from its name, it comes with the sexy RSZ body kit that adorns the Stream.

Not only has Honda created a practical Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), the Japanese manufacturer has successfully integrated a sporty sense in it, making the car more stylish and eye-catching than its previous model.

Styling wise, the Stream RSZ 's design seems to be derived from Honda's current design language, making it instantly recognisable as Honda's work of art.

The new facelift receives a fresh bumper, fog lights as well as grille, which places a large brand badge that sits proudly in the centre. Additionally, the 'RSZ' badge is intelligently placed on the upper right side of the wide grille that's flanked by sharply shaped headlights.

Upon seeing the car from the side, the cosmetic changes do increase the sportiness factor of the Stream. The rim now has slimmer spokes making it contemporary while giving an impression of the bigger rim look.

On the other hand, the back of the Stream RSZ resembles the Honda CR-V with new sets of transparent taillights that run up all the way to the roof. Comparing it to the previous version, this Stream RSZ also spots a brand new muscular rear bumper with a pair of slim reflectors on the bottom sides.

Exuding style that unleashes the younger side in drivers, the Honda Stream RSZ has indeed proven that practicality and elegance can merge in perfect harmony.

The new interior comes with a red motive that provides a welcome change from the dark colours of the past. The mixture of black and red fabric seats with the red threading trims prove to be ultimately comfortable, giving ample considerations to the people on-board.

However, the only set back in this aspect is that the seats aren't upholstered in leather, which can be a tad disappointing.

The leather-strapped steering wheel (with audio controls) and gear lever also have red trims on them, showcasing clearly the RSZ effect on the all-new Stream.

In addition to that, a superb sunroof also comes as standard with the new Stream - something the kids will fully appreciate while you are driving on a bright Sunday morning.

The cabin is roomier thanks to a slightly longer wheelbase of 20mm and redesigned sills that add a small increase in width for the first two seat rows. This additional length is wisely spent on maximising cabin space, especially in the third row, which is noticeably roomier.
Thus, the RSZ can easily swallow seven adults with ample head and legroom.

But that's not all. The practicality of the RSZ is unparalleled as it can move loads as well. With a height of 1545mm, loading and unloading of luggage or grocery bags will not be a problem. And although stowage space is barely satisfactory when all seven passengers are on-board, the luggage area increases by a few notches when the third row seats are stowed flat.

The external makeover is certainly complemented by a new interior that exudes a sense of sportiness and style without compromising space and practicality. Given its stature as an MPV, the Stream RSZ has, undoubtedly, the resources to fulfil its main responsibilities.

The Drive
On the go, the kerb weight of 1390kg does not make the RSZ a slouch. The 1.8-litre 140PS i-VTECengine is relatively powerful and the car responds to acceleration like a switch, surprising us with the sufficient power to overtake on highways.

Driving solo, the RSZ's acceleration is brisk and hauls itself pretty well into speeds of around 100-120km/h. Unfortunately, the electronically five-speed automatic gearbox has around half a second delay from the selection to engagement.

Nonetheless, its qualms are overwhelmed by the encouraging side of the drive. With a long wheelbase on the Stream, my assumption of the MPV attacking the corners with difficulty was wrong.

Not only did the car handle well without slipping, body roll was well controlled through the severe manoeuvring due to its lower centre of gravity.
For a car that constantly transports members of the family, it's always good to know that stability issues are almost non-existent in the Honda Stream RSZ.

With its 1.8-litre 140PS i-VTEC engine, the Stream RSZ continues to deliver what generations of Honda drivers have come to know and love - performance and reliability.

Although the colours of the interior can be a tad boring, the Honda Stream RSZ remains a handsome car with pleasant designs and a comfortable interior. And for a vehicle of its segment, it's simply awesome.

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