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When stopping is not a problem.

Come rain or storm, Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) never blinked in conducting its VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) exercises amid the threat of typhoon "Glenda" over Metro Manila last Tuesday. Originally set in Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales, the storm warning forced the VSA exercises to be held in a controlled area at the Mega Tent along C-5 Road in Libis, Quezon City.

SAFETY PRIORITY

Minus the fuel economy run, HCPI proceeded to have a group of motoring scribes test the safety benefits of the VSA program, which is now a standard feature in the new City and Jazz. So much has been written about the performance of the City and Jazz, particularly on their impressive styling and superb handling. This time, HCPI wanted to highlight the two sub-compacts' superiority in terms of safety.

SIMULATING SLIP

Each City and Jazz was subjected to extreme tests designed to simulate panic situations and a loss of grip. For the first exercise, a long strip of linoleum -- with water and soap poured onto it to simulate a wet, slippery surface -- was laid on the concrete surface. George Ramirez, the lead driving instructor, called this the "Slip and Grip" module.

From a distance of about 25 meters, I was told to floor the gas at the staging point and sprint toward the linoleum sheet. And after reaching the marker with a yellow flag, I slammed the brakes. Only the two wheels on the right side rolled on the linoleum sheet while the other two wheels on the left side were allowed to grip the pavement.

At this point, I felt the dynamics of the VSA working, allowing the City to maintain its direction as the two wheels on the linoleum abruptly stopped despite the very slippery conditions.

Without the VSA -- which is a combination of Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Traction Control -- the City would have spun out since the wheels on the left side maintained traction on the road surface. The only clue it was undergoing difficulty was the slight swaying left and right, I just made very minor steering corrections to keep the vehicle in the right direction.

STEADY START

Still stopped on the "Slip and Grip," I again floored the gas to simulate an aggressive take off maneuver and instead of experiencing continuous wheel spinning, the VSA allowed the City to induce the correct amount of power to the wheels on the linoleum to regain traction. Wheel spin may look good for the less educated drivers but it will take you nowhere and will also result in an undue waste of fuel. A quick glance at the instrumentation panel showed the RPM needle going down a little, which is an indication that the engine's intelligent system is adjusting its power distribution to the right front wheel.

AROUND THE BEND

Moving on to the second exercise dubbed as the "Emergency Braking on Bend," I again floored the gas from a distance of around 50 meters before negotiating a tight bend at high speed. Upon reaching a marker positioned slightly after entering the corner, I was told to slam on the brakes. Instead of spinning out, the VSA allowed the City to follow the curve while coming to a complete stop and at the same time, avoiding the pylons that simulate barriers. During the first attempt in a Jazz, I hit a pylon on the right side but I was able to correct it onboard a City by correcting my steering upon reaching the curve. It was a clear, simple case of "driver error."

LEFT TO RIGHT

Last but not the least was the "Brake and Evade" section. From a distance of at least 70 meters, I charged the Jazz to a section with pylons on both sides. Simulating an emergency situation where a pedestrian suddenly appears up front, the Jazz's VSA allowed me to brake and steer from left to right, while avoiding the pylon in front. Traction Control, EBD and ABS were the perfect formula in maintaining control of the car during panic braking.

Honda's VSA was a feature previously accorded to premium cars. Yet the Japanese car maker was generous enough to include these reliable safety mechanisms in their affordable sub-compacts. Now convinced on the VSA of the Jazz and City, the motoring group thought of proceeding to Subic amid the threat of "Glenda."

But on second thought, we opted to stay safe in Metro Manila and enjoy the yummy back rib steak prepared by HCPI.

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Photos by Aris R. Ilagan
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Title Annotation:Motoring
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jul 17, 2014
Words:757
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