Honda Unveils Sporty Hybrid
Harking back to its classic CR-X, Honda introduces yet another hybrid electric vehicle.
In the 1980s, Honda introduced the CR-X, a small, sporty 2-seat hatchback that was the antithesis of the large cars that domestic automakers were peddling. Though never particularly powerful, the CR-X's light weight made it fun to drive and fuel-efficient (the HF edition got 50 mpg on the highway), and it is credited by many for starting the hot-hatch trend.
Fast forward 20 years or so. The CR-X's spiritual successor, called the CR-Z, is unveiled at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
A compact 2-seater, the CR-Z is Honda's first hybrid intended to deliver sporty driving dynamics. It is powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine aided by a 10-kilowatt version of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid electric motor. Transmission choices will consist of a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic. Total output is 122 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque (123 lb-ft with the CVT) as low as 1000 rpm. The CVT also comes with steering-wheel shift paddles with preset gear ratios. Honda quotes fuel-economy ratings of 36 mpg city/38 mpg highway with the CVT and 31/37 mpg with the manual. The CR-Z qualifies as an advanced technology partial zero emissions vehicle (AT-PZEV).
The CR-Z offers three driving modes: Normal, Sport and Econ. Each mode adjusts throttle responsiveness, electric power-steering effort, air-conditioning load and electric-motor power assist. Econ mode is tuned for fuel economy, Sport mode increases responsiveness and Normal mode splits the two. In Sport and Econ modes, colored rings in the tachometer give instant feedback on driving style. Eco Guide and Eco Scoring features in the instrument panel are also standard to help drivers be more efficient.
Underneath, the CR-Z uses a MacPherson strut front suspension and an H-shaped torsion beam rear suspension. Honda says both are tuned for sportiness, which is also aided by placing the nickel-metal hydride battery under the rear floor. All models come with 16-inch alloy wheels; 17-inch wheels will be available as a dealer accessory.
The 2011 Honda CR-Z will be offered in base and EX models. Standard features include AM/FM/CD stereo with a USB port, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, six airbags, anti-lock disc brakes and electronic stability control. The EX model adds high-intensity discharge automatic headlights, fog lights, a 360-watt audio system, Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A navigation system with voice recognition is optional.
The 2011 Honda CR-Z is set to go on sale late this summer. Pricing will be announced closer to the release date.