First Look: 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid

Here are all the juicy details on the 2011 Honda CR-Z. we've seen this car several times in prototype and concept form, but now the real car is out and the reactions are very positive.

*Heavily influenced by 1984-1991 Honda CRX and 2000-2004 Honda Insight

*Front engine, front wheel drive

*Two-passenger hatchback

*1.5 liter SOHC I-4 engine combined with Honda's sixth generation IMA system, which adds a 10 kilowatt DC electric motor and 100 volt nickel metal hydride battery

*Combined engine and motor output is 122 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque (123 lb ft with the continuously variable transmission)

*Two transmissions offered: standard 6 speed manual, optional CVT

*Estimated EPA Fuel economy of 31/37 city/highway mpg (6MT) and 36/38 city/highway mpg (CVT)

*Alternative Partial-Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) status

The sheet just dropped on Honda's new affordable sport coupe and here are few more tasty morsels we discovered:

1) CR-Z is slated to go on sale in the US in the late summer of 2010. Japanese and European markets will be the first to receive the CR-Z, which will be sold as a 2+2 in both markets (as was the original CRX). Japan takes delivery February 26th, Europe a 3-4 months after.

2) Honda expects volume of the CR-Z to be 15,000 per year, shared between the U.S. and Canada. This is but a fraction of the expected volume of the Insight at launch, which was projected at 100,000, in a ratio of 90:10 between the US and Canada).

3) Honda's preliminary estimates put CR-Z at 2670 lbs for the 6-speed manual version and 2725 lbs for the CVT. For comparison's sake, here are the weights of a few notable gas sippers we tested recently: 2009 Honda Fit/2521 lbs, 2010 Honda Insight/2735 lbs, and 2010 Toyota Prius/3171 lbs. Out of curiosity, we looked up the CR-Z's grandfather, the 1985 Honda CRX HF, and found that it weighed a paltry 1718 lbs - which explains its tiny 58 horsepower engine.

4) In addition to the unique powertrain controller which offers up normal, economical, and sport driving modes, CVT equipped CR-Zs will have four distinct gear ratios available via paddle shifters. Why four instead of the Insight's seven ratios? Honda says it determined that four ratios provide simpler shift logic and just work better with the performance characteristics of the CR-Z. We say, fewer ratios probably made downshifts more substantial and, thus, sporty feeling - but we won't know until we try for ourselves.

5) CR-Z will be produced in Japan at Honda's Suzuka Factory which also produces Civic/Civic Hybrid, Insight, Fit, and JDM models Jazz and Edix.

So just how does it look in person? As the journalist next to me exclaimed as the curtain fell, "Wow - it looks a lot more like a CRX than I expected."

Which is to say that in person, the proportions are not quite as nose heavy as our studio shots would lead you to believe. From the side and rear, your eye is drawn to the bend of the C-pillar and the blacked-out strip of rear glass - both of which definitely recall the CRX - more than the CRZ's overall profile.

Inside is a mix of current and familiar Honda design and styling as the view from the driver's seat is a mix of Civic, Fit, and Insight. The view behind the front seats, however, should raise some eyebrows. The cargo cubbies and fold down divider are so clearly meant for passengers, the obvious question is, "Why didn't they make this a 2+2 for the US market as well?"

Overall, the CR-Z follows the same prototype-to-production arc that all recent Honda and Acura products have taken. It is not quite as aggressively styled as what the studio had in mind with the concept CR-Z, but not nearly as watered down as some of Honda's competitors end up when they transition from clay to production spec.

Will it succeed? We'll wait for a test drive before rendering any sort of judgment, but if you go by faces in the crowd during the press conference, the competition is clearly paying close attention. We spotted several key engineers and execs from Ford, GM, Hyundai, and VW in the crowd. Just a coincidence at one of the world's most important auto shows? Not a chance. When Honda says the words compact, affordable and sporty in the same sentence, you can bet the competition around the world takes notice.

mikec9
this is a test
mikec9
This is a test

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