Insight-II bests the Prius-III? [fimg=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2010_Honda_Insight-II_-_Video_Launch.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Oct. 8, 2009 The 2010 Honda Insight-II reigned supreme in FE competitions today. Hoffman Estates, IL -- The Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) held its annual Fall Rally bringing together 15 manufacturers, 55 + new automobiles, and 60 members of the automotive press and public relations professionals from across the automotive industry. At the end of each summer, MAMA executes a one-day Fall Road Rally and today brought together the people, the cars and a road course in which some vehicles were driven for the first time by many in attendance. Let’s begin A welcome and introductions of the various manufacturers’ reps was performed by MAMA’s president, Jim Jackson of Times Papers over a quaint Continental breakfast provided by Kia. Kia’s own Sheby Hunt took center stage and provided the group with a few of the highlights of the Kia Soul and Forte’ vehicles which they had brought in abundance. And before we adjourned to the parking lot full of new vehicles to drive, additional housekeeping items, itinerary and direction was provided by MAMA’s VP, Tom Appel of Consumers Guide Automotive. The Road Course Two courses actually. A 5-mile and a 10-mile course were laid out for us to drive in whichever vehicle held our fancy. The 5-mile course consisted of 25, 35 and 45 mph limits on mostly single lane roads with 4 stop signs, 5 stop lights, one single lane construction zone, 2 RR crossings and plenty of morning and afternoon Chicago suburban traffic around the many malls we would start and finish near. Instead of starting from the parking lot where the cars were parked in various sections, I was taking the vehicles to the motel parking lot next door, bring them up to temperature and in the case of the Prius-III, only allow 5-bars of SoC in an attempt to put on a somewhat representative drive from end to end. Lady’s and Gentleman, start your engines... To begin, I rode along with the noted Auto writer, Jim Mateja driving a Cadillac SRX to experience Cadillac’s latest and get the lay of the land. On the 35-mph section, I made note to mention our 45 to 50 mph speeds... Darn those back seat drivers anyway With a block plus long backup occurring at one of the stop-signs ahead, I suggested we take a 2-block detour that the NAVI unit display showed available. Whoops, that little detour became the detour from hell. About 2-miles later, we were spit out close to where we should have been in the first place First up, the new 2010 Lexus HS 250h The HS 250h – 35 mpgUS combined - First driven in Rochester, MI earlier this year. Warmed up and off we go... 64 .0 mpg over 5.7 miles in 50 degree F temps. Second up, the Audi Q7 TDI Turbo-diesel SUV Audi Q7 TDI – 17/25/20 mpg city/highway/combined. One of the many links provided in the Audi Efficiency Challenge A to B – The Compilation, the Final_FE averages showed the mighty Q7 TDI averaging 29.4 mpg on a mostly slower speed highway drive across 2,400 miles of gorgeous scenery from Northern to Southern Europe. Would the heavier emissions equipped American Q7 TDI be able to best that figure on a wicked stop sign to stop light course in America? 28.3 mpg over 5.9 miles in 51 degree F temps. Unfortunately, we just missed it During acceleration, the huge Q7 would consume fuel in the 5 – 12 mpg range and hang there until the first NICE-On or SS cruise was initiated. The thing that really enticed me was not only the 75 – 100 mpg glides but on the 45 mph section leading into the single lane construction zone, once the monster was in top gear (thanks to the up shift paddle shifter being frantically tapped!), I was seeing 40 + steady state cruise at 45 mph. Holy smokes!!! I spoke with Christian Bokich, Audi’s Product Technology rep about taking a Q7 out for a few days of Chicago to Milwaukee runs. With his blessing, we will see it soon enough. Next, the brand new MB S400 Hybrid MB S400(s) – 19/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Although promoted early on to possibly achieve 30 mpgUS, this vehicle goes to show all of us how tough the 08 EPA really is vs. the NEDC where it is rated at 30 mpgUS combined... The drive? First, it is an absolutely over the top luxury based S-class meaning it was heavy with an AT to match. The 275 HP 3.5L provides the bulk of its power with a somewhat smallish 20 HP IMA like MGSet added for Start/Stop, regenerative braking and minor assist functions. The real interesting item about this car is not just the luxurious appointments which I will go into a little more detail later but the fact it includes the world’s first OEM Hybrid production Li-Ion battery in the engine bay. Continental 120V Li-Ion pack – about the size of an 83 size Pb-Acid. This one took me a while as the CC stalk was located just above the turn single stalk and numerous times I had engaged CC accidentally. A frantic attempt to remove CC from service would ensue afterwards. One of these occurrences happened while sitting in the left turn lane at a light with a green left signal. Unfortunately, two other journalists were stuck behind wondering WTF is a matter with this guy Additionally, was there a way to control the Hybrid’s Stop/Start function earlier than 9-mph, how to hold onto a glide from 9-mph and what about Fuel cut? All proved to be somewhat disappointing for advanced hybrid drivers of course. For a general owner (those purchasing $90,000 S-Class MB’s are not going to care how it works, just that it does), it works as advertised which is as it should be. I will explain more about that later as well. With 1-circuit driven in the morning and 5 short 1-mile jaunts to get used to both the instrumentation and the hybrid functions, it was time for ... LUNCH! And you thought Auto journalists were only interested in cars As we were enjoying our meal, Jim introduced the company and person responsible for our succulent morsels. Namely, Subaru of America and the Subaru Legacy and Outback product manager, David Sullivan. David gave a quick overview of the company and its latest products making mention that in a marketplace down by approximately 25% across the board, Subaru is one of three that have experienced a sales uptick. To the tune of a somewhat amazing 10% in fact! Regarding the 2010 Legacy, its passenger capacity was increased by 9%, cargo capacity was increased by 29%, just 50 pounds were added to a 10% larger car and its base price is now $800 less than it was last year. Dave made a very interesting comment: “Consumers care more about how long before they have to fill the tank than the actual fuel economy.” This statement certainly places the average consumers understanding of their vehicles fuel economy in a much different light, does it not? Regarding the Outback, David mentioned that 20% of Outback owners take their vehicles off-road at least once per month. Some parking their Chicago based Subaru’s in their front yard perhaps Back to the fun - Can the 2010 Insight-II break out of the 2010 Prius’ shadow? The 2010 Honda Insight-II – 41 mpgUS combined - First driven in Carefree, AZ late last year. A straight warm-up and going advanced from initial engine light off and stop sign and light to the next stop sign and light. She was showing over 102.x mpgUS 3 miles into the course when I had two pulses balled up by the construction zone workers putting up the portable stop sign and a light I mistimed. To see the Insight-II at that level certainly made me sit up and take notice and I cannot wait to get behind the wheel of one again 90.6 mpg over 5.2 miles in 56 degree F temps. A loss of .2 + miles due to FAS’ The 2010 Prius-III – King of the city segment 2010 Toyota Prius-III package V – 50 mpgUS combined. This one I wanted to be careful with as taking out a Prius with a SoC at 70 + % over a shorter 5-mile course would be similar to stacking the deck. As stated above, I brought its coolant temp up to 184 degrees with a 5-bar SoC and reset the FCD. To verify this Press pool Prius had the 6-mpg over report or not, I setup an SG-II with an 8% negative offset. Time to begin. And who would have thought you would get stopped by a train on the first set of RR tracks in the middle of a bustling Chicago suburb in early afternoon? Fortunately it was a very short one And the final result? 96.7 mpg over 5.6 miles in 57 degree F temps. Includes a loss of at least 1 and up to 2 bars of SoC. Not only did I lose at least 1 full bar, the SG-II reported 89.1 mpg as a final. This is the first time that I know of that a 2010 Honda Insight-II bested a 2010 Prius-III and the Prius used at least one full bar (#4) of SoC. I lost the fourth bar when entering the parking lot. And back to that Mercedes S400 for an early afternoon drive... Just so-so results from my perspective. 30.1 mpg over 5.x + miles in 58 degree F temps.. Tabulated Final Results Column1Column2Column3Column4Column5MakeModelEPA CombinedFE Achieved% above EPA HondaInsight-II4190.6+ 121 LexusHS 250h3564.0+ 83 ToyotaPrius-III5089.1+ 78 AudiQ72028.3+ 42 Mercedes BenzS4002230.1+ 37 I want to personally thank Jim, Tom and Wendy Orthman, MAMA’s secretary for their efforts in putting the Fall Rally together. Additionally, we should all thank the manufacturers which include Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota for bringing their excellent automobiles to Hoffman Estates on a fine autumn day. And of course the guys behind the scenes from both STI and GSchmitz transporting the cars to and from the Fall Rally and making sure they were both clean and ready to drive at all times. It was an event and an experience I will remember for a very long time.