In 1984, a Honda Civic sedan weighed 875 kg, which was 60 more than the basic three-door version, which weighed only 815 kg. This sedan, equipped with an 83-hp engine and a five-speed manual transmission, sprinted from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.1 seconds and consumed just 7.2 L/100 km. Almost 40 years later, the Civic sedan has gained 440kg, seen its power almost double, for a 0 to 100km/h run in 10 seconds. As for consumption, it improved by 4.5%, getting a rating of 6.9L/100km.
Of course, today’s Civic has nothing to do with the third-generation model introduced in 1983. Packed with technology, immeasurably safer and more comfortable, it can be considered a true luxury car. It is even much more comfortable and spacious than the Accord of the time.
Because energy consumption is at the heart of every conversation today, and it’s a deciding factor for many buyers, one naturally wonders why cars keep gaining weight. It is impossible to imagine a 875 kg 2022 Civic with a 158 horsepower engine. This car would probably reach 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds with a consumption of 4 l/100 km. However, it would definitely be dangerous and very difficult to drive.
Unfortunately, with the US market being what it is, people now increasingly want larger, better equipped and therefore heavier vehicles. So, for electric vehicles, increased autonomy, which implies the installation of increasingly heavy batteries… The impact on driving dynamics and on energy consumption is therefore very significant, as are the various mechanical parts. Think of all the suspension elements, the steering parts, the brakes, even the tires. Not to mention that these increasingly heavier vehicles, by multiplying them, seriously affect the condition of the roads.
Last week I tested a 100% electric BMW i4 sedan. A car that, due to an 83.9 kWh battery, weighs just under 2,300 kg.
Basically more weight than an F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 pickup. Of course, the car impresses with its blistering acceleration (536 horsepower) and its range. However, the driving pleasure from a BMW 4 series with petrol engine is halved here. Because the weight affects it enormously and because it has a consequence on the sensations behind the wheel.
This week it’s the new 2023 Honda HR-V’s turn to be tested. A vehicle developed only for our market, larger and therefore gaining 87 kg compared to its predecessor. Thus, it is grafted with a mechanism slightly more powerful than before, which makes it possible to achieve performance similar to the previous model, but at the expense of a higher consumption of 0.2 L/100 km. A combined average now recorded at 8.7L/100km, while there is no gain in performance.
Standards to review?
This example is just one of many that prove that the North American consumer, in conjunction with increasingly strict safety standards, is forcing manufacturers to design heavier vehicles. The result: unnecessarily high energy consumption and seriously affected driving pleasure. And if many remain indifferent to this second argument, it is often because they underestimate the importance of being comfortable and having perfect control of their vehicle.
Should Transport Canada and its equivalents in the US and Europe legislate more strictly on vehicle curb weights? Personally, I am convinced of it. Especially with the spread of electric models, which, despite their ecological advantage, on the other hand, will accelerate the deterioration of our road network. Because don’t forget that the majority of the new electric cars that will be unveiled in the coming years will not be small. The brief era of the Chevrolet Bolt, Kia Soul EV and Nissan Leaf is coming to an end.