Year: 1998 ``````````````````````````````````` Type: Light SUV
Country: Japan ```````````````````````````````` Host: GT2
Length: 133.7" // Width: 58.1" // Height: 65.9"
Overhang: @3' 5"
Track: 50.4" [F] 50.8" [R]
Weight: 2,138 pounds
Layout: mid engine / 4-wheel drive
F. Suspension: MacPherson
struts / coils
R. Suspension: 5-link / DeDion axle
Brakes: solid discs / drums
Engine: 656 cc SOHC inline 3
Aspiration: intercooled turbo
Tested HP: 62 @ 5,900 rpms
Tstd Torque: 69 @ 3,500
Credits per HP: $207.74
Pounds per HP: 34.48
HP per Liter: 94.5
Fuel System: PGM Fi
per Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 2.60 x 2.52"
Redline: 6,500 // Rev Limit: 7,000
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
0-60 mph: 16.602 seconds
400 M: 21.273 @ 64 mph
1 KM: 39.142 @ 81
Test Track: 2:41.162
Top Speed at Redline
1st: 35 mph
2nd: 60 mph
3rd: 102.3 mph @ 6,300
The Honda Z, not to be confused with Datsun's Z car, no...really, DON'T
confuse them! ...is a little Kei-style RV that quietly sits in the new car portion of Honda's dealership under the
highly-popular S2000. This review shall focus on the 1998 Honda Z found in GT2...not the 1970 Honda Z Act of GT4. Somehow, I
highly doubt I'll ever review the Act.
Like most Keis, the Z Turbo of this review rarely gets any attention. At best, it's referred to by
most GTers as they lump it with a bunch of other lightweights in very colorful language. Below are a couple of anonymous cut
& pastes from a website I visit:
“K cars blow, man. Whats the deal? Why are so many freekin' k's in tghe game. All they do is freekin
hog man. SPEED 12 RULES!!"
“GOT A HONDA LIFE ITS GAY AS MY UNCLE SOLD IT DROPPED IT LIKE A LED BALOON”
LET'S FACE IT FOLKS. oops. Let's face it folks, most people hate kei cars. There are a few
exceptions: the Cappucino, AZ-1, and Pajero escape some serious criticism due to their uniqueness. The Honda Z? Honestly,
it's hard to tell if anyone has a reaction to it at all, in fact, I've NEVER seen anyone talk about the Z on the internet,
come and think of it. Have you? “So why are you writing about it, Parnelli?” Uh, well, I don't know. The
best answer I can come up with is one I thought of a year ago: how the slowest of cars can actually teach us a thing
or two about driving, and how the perspective one gains in a Kei car (when compared to faster machines) makes the slower
ones worth a spin. Also, I can't control when and where inspriation strikes, so here we are. But really, there are a couple
of things that make the Z Turbo worth discussing, things that I didn't even know about till I read a bit more closely.
First is its engine layout. Like a Ford RS200 or Acura DN-X, the Z Turbo has a mid-engine /
4-wheel drive setup. The engine is stuffed under the rear seat, matter of fact. Yes, it's true. It's not another Polyphony
Digital misprint. Must make one hell of a vibrator for the ladies ;)~.
There isn't much to say about this unusual design; in fact, it tends to DAMAGE the Z's handling most of
the time! Maybe there's some advantage here in real-life (more cargo space up front?), but in GT2, there really is nothing
here. It's an oddity in a videogame FULL of cars with oddities.
But the question remains: why ARE there so many of these slow, somewhat useless cars? Was it some sort of
Japanese car manufacturer payola scheme? “Yes, vee allow you use Esssscudo, but you musssst also take Aaaalto Verks!!!!
Hmmm ha hahahaaaa” Who knows.
One thing is for sure. The Z Turbo is a weakling. Slow and clumsy it is, yet it has
its place in the game all the same. In the sloooow section, mostly. Lol.
----------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------------
When it comes to racing, there are 2 types of Kei cars in GT2: the kind that suck but
can be made to go faster, and the kind that just suck. Fortunately, the Z happens to be the first type.
We can buy some parts for the engine to make it faster: a couple of turbos, a couple intercoolers, and all
the other usual parts (mufflers, computer, etc.). It makes the Z worthwhile in GT2, even though only diehard Kei-fans will
ever drive it. In other words, you can get outside the box: the Sunday and Clubman cup can both be yours...the Compact Car
Series as well as some other low-paced matches. ...Basically, you're not just stuck with the official Kei Car Series if you
drive a Z Turbo.
At the most, the 658 cc 3-cylinder can be made to spit out 137 hp @ 6,900 rpms
with a Stage 1 turbo, and 187 hp (also at 6,900 rpm) with a Stage 2. Wow, I'm impressed, aren't you? Probly
not. Actually, I'm not really THAT impressed. But it is kinda fun to dominate the snobby Fiat Coupe, Nissan Silvia Aero, and
Plymouth PT Spyder in the Sunday Cup with this car...which wasn't made to dominate much of ANYTHING!
One thing that really is simply wrong about the Z Turbo is its transmission. I'm assuming in real-life,
at least some folks over in Japan took a Z out to some trails, since it is a recreational vehicle. What happened when
they got stuck? What I mean is, shouldn't it make sense for the gearing to be set rather high so you can get out of mud?
The thing is, this car is geared too tall. In my track test, it struggled into 3rd gear,
made it past 100 mph...but that was it. The engine just poops out and can't push anymore. 4th gear is useless. Perhaps in
real-life, the Z features both high and low gearing that can be switched for on and off road? I don't know. I even went to
Wikipedia, which only tells us the Z Turbo is available with either a 3 or a 4-speed tranny, but doesn't mention any other
Okay, so when we race, we'll get more power and get a close-ratio box to cure this problem,
right? Errr, not exactly. Even with full power on a track with a nice, long straight, you'll never need 5th gear. The super-close
gearbox is also....too tall. Seems odd, doesn't it? Usually with Keis, the gearing maxes out too early, and a racing
unit becomes necessary. With the Z Turbo, the racing unit is still necessary, but for the opposite reason! Usually
we buy it to extend a Keicar's top speed, not lessen it for better acceleration.
----------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING----------------
Maybe you weren't impressed with the Z so far. Now here's why you should simply AVOID it!...unless you're
a fan of oddball vehicles or Keis, of course.
The Z's all-wheel drive is nice. It adds much-needed stability, which is necessary to keep the car
from spinning due to its engine layout, which (as mentioned) is located just in front of the rear axle. Sounds neat, but actually this
I drove the Z in the Sunday Cup race at Tahiti. My car had a Stage 1 turbo with no other upgrades (except
the permanent ones) and was pushing just over 100 hp I believe. To test this car's limits, the Z was running on
stock tires and suspension. Oh, and those limits were tested!
Thru corners, the Honda Z leans heavily; like a stack of books. It is taller than it is wide, a classic
RV in all respects; but in real-life (away from Gran Turismo's oddball physics) we all know the Z would simply tip over.
Instead, it has plenty of grip, which keeps it going with the rest of the crowd. Kinda reminds me of the
Mitsubishi Pajero. The PROBLEM is that a good portion of the weight is in a bad spot. It pulls the poor Z Turbo thru
corners, trying to switch the back-end first, which sucks because this little truck would normally be quite the handling devil
if the engine were up front.
At High Speed Ring, I thought the Sports suspension, with its extra damping force,
would help. It basically tames the Z a bit, but that is all. IF this one were not a 4-wheel drive, you can bet it would be
ready to spin a lot more!
Well, for those who are really into the Z, you can get even better parts: racing suspension, soft slick
tires...limited slip differential, etc. but for the purposes of this review, I'll say goodbye here. I got better
cars to spend my credits on.
1). Not a bad car to tackle some of the lower-class races in GT2. Two turbo systems and
intercoolers help here.
2). Reasonably priced at just over 12,000 credits. There are several Keis that are cheaper and better, though.
3). A rather grippy RV, thanks to Gran Turismo 2's physics machine, which doesn't portray flip-overs.
4). The Honda Z Turbo appears in GT2 and only GT2, so uniqueness counts as a Pro, I guess. It is
one of those PD chose not to re-create in other videogames apparently.
1). Typical lack of power. Poor acceleration, poor torque...all that jazz.
2). Bland, unfunky style. The Pajero with its mirrors, spare tire, and boxy, non-aerodynamic bodywork is
far more interesting.
3). The gearbox just doesn't cut it. It's too freakin' tall. Even the super-close transmission rarely gets
any 5th gear action.
4). Engine layout creates nervous twitchyness when going thru corners. The Z Turbo would be another Honda
Beat (but worse) if it weren't for its trusty 4-wheel drive.
5). Dirt tires are available for this car, but (again) its engine/drivetrain layout just about negates the
Z Turbo from being a safe rallyer.
6). No racing-kit bodywork. Anyone surprised? I wasn't.
7). Ultimately, any Kei like this one will sit in the garage unless the owner is REALLY into running B-license
races again and again. The Z Turbo might be able to handle the Trail Mountain Enduro, tho.
Originally Published: June 14, 2005
Edited: July 7th 2007