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Honda's hybrid hot hatch

2009-09-30 08:17
Domestic manufacturers are always keen to impress at their local motor show and Honda’s presence at this year’s Tokyo event will be no different.

These last 12 months have been a trying time for the renowned engine maker.

The company has wrapped up production of its brilliant S2000 roadster (no replacement due) and canned a highly advanced replacement for the erstwhile NSX supercar.

Supporters of the brand can take heart in these latest images of CR-Z concept, which should be on display at the next month’s Tokyo motor show in practically showroom trim.

Rear three-quarter view shows off the large glasshouse hatchback (very much like the original CRX) and showcases a generally quite attractive profile.

Jazz + Civic x Insight = CR-Z

CR-Z will ride on a shortened Insight platform, combining Jazz and Civic parts. This blend effectively shortens axle spacing by 115mm compared with the Insight, specifying CR-Z with a wheelbase 143mm shorter than a Scirocco, for instance.

Echoing the influential CRX of the late 1980s and early 1990s in design, CR-Z’s surfacing is decidedly wedge-shaped, with some detailing touches reminiscent of the current Insight.

All things considered, the proportions appear near perfect and thanks to some vogue blue hued headlight cluster illumination it should appease the Tokyo night racing crown no end.

Blue backlighting indicates hybrid status within Honda's product portfolio. Cabin not as claustrophobic as the old CRX's, shadows current Civic hatch in design. Six-on-the-floor tranmission and three pedals in the footwell unusual for a hybrid...

Dynamics biased hybrid drivetrain

Powering the CR-Z will be a 1.5l in-line four-cylinder engine driving via Honda’s integrated motor assist technology – a petrol/electric hybrid drivetrain.

The key difference between Insight and CR-Z is the internal combustion part of this bybrid equation, swopping Insight’s 65kW 1.3l unit for a keener 1.5l i-VTEC sourced engine worth 89kW.

Buoyed by battery power (unfortunately the underfloor batteries are nickel metal hydride units instead of more contemporary lithium ion cells) the drivetrain could easily produce 100kW of peak power.

Although there are no official performance figures yet, CR-Z’s 0-100km/h acceleration should be decently under 10 seconds whilst still returning stellar fuel economy.

Curiously, for a hybrid, the CR-Z will apportion drive to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, which is a nice touch – celebrating the car’s CRX performance heritage.

Honda has allegedly spent an inordinate amount of time ensuring the CR-Z’s front-wheel drive handling dynamics are in-line with expectations.

Production of the CR-Z is earmarked for early next year.

The company's rear-wheel drive performance car portfolio might effectively be vanquished, yet with the CR-Z, Honda will seemingly offer environmentally (and financially) sensible dynamic motoring engagement for a much larger market niche.


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