What do you get when you take some of the inspiration of Honda’s much-loved CRX two-seater from the 1980s and cross it with the also-much-loved Insight coupe from the past decade, then give it the latest version of Honda’s hybrid system? The 2011 Honda CR-Z. After plenty of anticipation, the production version of this sport hybrid is at last here, introduced at the Detroit auto show.
American Honda’s executive VP of sales John Mendel calls the CR-Z “the first hybrid designed to maximize style and fun, in addition to fuel efficiency and economy.”
The little two-seater has a profile that’s definitely taller than the CRX yet still quite low-slung. From the back, the hatch and integral window has a stronger resemblance to the two-seat Honda Insight, which was last produced until 2006. Inside, the CR-Z gets mult-layered instrument-panel displays—a contemporary design feature we’ve come to expect in Hondas—and the upper portion of the dash curves around to envelop the driver.
The CR-Z shares many of its underpinnings with the 2010 Honda Insight and is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine i-VTEC engine, paired with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild-hybrid system. The 10-kW electric motor assists during acceleration, then functions as a generator during braking and coasting, recharging the 100-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack.
Altogether, the system produces 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the CR-Z, with a CVT optional; as you might expect, the CVT provides a choice of simulated gear ratios. The low mounting of the battery system and the front strut, rear torsion-beam suspension all aid sporty handling.
The CR-Z also employs Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure and includes side-curtain airbags and active head restraints, along with anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.
Fuel economy is a bit of a disappointment for such a small vehicle, at 31 mpg city, 37 highway with the manual transmission, but CVT models do much better with a figure of 36/38.
A three-mode drive system that gives a choice between Sport, Econ, and Normal driving modes will debut in the 2011 CR-Z.
Two trim levels of the 2011 Honda CR-Z will be offered, including base and EX models. Base CR-Z models will include electronic stability control, automatic climate control, keyless entry, cruise control, and a six-speaker sound system with USB interface. EX models add HID headlamps, fog lamps, Bluetooth, leather trim, and upgraded 360-watt audio. A navigation system with voice recognition is optional.
The new 2011 Honda CR-Z will go on sale this summer.