A new version of the Honda CR-Z may debut at the Paris Motor Show, based on a new teaser video on the company's Japanese website. The brief teaser video shows several components of the CR-Z that appear to have been redesigned, and promises more information will be made public on September 27.
The video, which has a few captions in Japanese, shows a new black-and-silver wheel design, new headlights that appear to bear LED running lights, and a circular button marked "S+". Those features aren’t available on the current Honda CR-Z, suggesting that Honda has something new in store for its small hybrid. Although the car does offer three buttons for three different driving modes, they're currently labeled Econ, Normal, and Sport -- with no mention of S+.
We previously heard Honda would introduce a higher-performance version of the hybrid coupe this fall, possibly called the CR-Z Si. Unfortunately, the most recent reports suggest that a tough Yen-Dollar exchange rate would make the CR-Z Si too expensive to sell in the U.S. With that in mind, it's still possible that Honda is teasing the introduction of a CR-Z Si for Europe and Japan.
A Honda official in the U.S. couldn't comment on the Japanese teaser video, but reminded us that Honda has announced some small changes for the 2013 CR-Z. The car will receive "interior and exterior styling changes" and gains a standard backup camera. The 2013 Honda CR-Z goes on sale this fall.
Honda's longstanding tuning partner Mugen also has shown various modified versions of the Honda CR-Z. Last summer, Mugen revealed the CR-Z RR concept that had a racier body kit, new wheels, and a carbon fiber rear spoiler. Mugen also has developed a CR-Z race car with a twin-turbo V-6 engine, but that's only destined for use in Japan's Super GT racing series.
The Honda CR-Z launched in the U.S. in summer 2010. It has a 1.5-liter inline-four gasoline engine that makes 113 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque, and an electric motor/generator rated for 13 hp and 58 lb-ft, for peak combined outputs of 122 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. Models with the standard six-speed manual transmission are rated to return 31/37 mpg (city/highway), while opting for the continuously variable transmission bumps economy to 35/39 mpg.
Despite the hybrid drivetrain and high fuel-efficiency figures, Honda positions the CR-Z as a sporty coupe. The aggressive styling was inspired by the Honda CRX hatchback, while a low center of gravity and a tight suspension make for relatively sporting handling.
Despite affordable prices -- the 2012 CR-Z starts at $20,485 after destination -- sales have never been very strong. In 2011, the company sold just 11,330 units of the CR-Z, and through the end of August this year, the CR-Z has only tallied 3126 sales. Perhaps a mild refresh will help draw more buyers to Honda's sporty hybrid.