Honda showed the U.S. production version of its CR-Z hybrid in Detroit, dubbing this diminutive, two-passenger front-driver "a personal sport hybrid coupe for people with a spirit of adventure and an elevated sense of responsibility toward the environment."
Visually, the volume-build CR-Z retains virtually all of the best elements previewed in its concept predecessor. A bold "one motion" exterior form uses wide front grille elements and a prominent side sculpting to accentuate the dynamic nature of its wedgy/edgy sheetmetal, creating a look that reportedly will set the pattern for future Honda styling. Inside, the CR-Z offers the latest take on the automaker's intuitive approach to melding man with machine, resulting in a roomy cabin with user-friendly control layouts, well-bolstered sport buckets and a good deal of stow space. Highlighting the mix is a slick instrument cluster with 3D-look gauges.
The base CR-Z and upline CR-Z EX come with an impressive roster of standards, including a full array of power assists, automatic climate control, tilt/telescoping steering column, keyless remote and cruise control. The primo EX replaces the 160-watt sound system with a 360-watt premium audio upgrade and adds Bluetooth connectivity plus an available satellite navigation system along with HID headlamps and foglamps.
Both CR-Z variants share the same powertrain, the sixth iteration of Honda's IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) that first appeared on the 2000 Insight. This time, it matches a 1.5-liter 16-valve gasoline engine with Honda's "intelligent" Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) system with a 10-kilowatt electric motor/generator teamed with a nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack. The system makes 122 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and develops 128 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,000-1,500 revs with the standard six-speed manual transmission or 123 lb.-ft. with the optional continuously variable automatic (CVT) that also includes a paddle-shifted Sport mode with seven virtual gears. CR-Z's with the former are expected to net EPA ratings of 31 city/37 highway mpg while opting for the CVT will bump those figures to 36/38 mpg.
Honda's newest hybrid also boasts a new tri-mode drive system (Normal/Economy/Sport) that varies throttle response, power steering feel, air conditioning load and the electric motor assist to match an individual owner's wishes. Like the Insight, the CR-Z has Honda's Eco Guide and Eco scoring feature to help track and motivate even greater efficiency.
With a curb weight around 2,700 pounds, the CR-Z's acceleration is apt to be more sprightly than scintillating. But Honda reportedly turned up the enthusiast index on the car's MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear suspension and fitted V-rated 195/55 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels as standard with 205/45 rubber on 17-inch rims as an option. All CR-Zs also have stabillty/traction control and anti-lock disc brakes.
The CR-Z goes on sale in late summer. While pricing has yet to be announced, previous comments made by Honda execs would indicate it will be somewhere in the $20,000-$25,000 range.