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by Tim Beissmann

Honda has unveiled the production version of its CR-Z hybrid coupe at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

And despite there being no official plans for a local launch yet, Honda Australia’s Mark Higgins this morning confirmed the CR-Z is on Honda’s wishlist.

The design of the two-seater – while unique with its “one motion” wedge shape, low-slung bonnet and broad forward stance – comes as no surprise after two earlier concept versions and numerous leaked images in the lead up to today’s debut.

Honda America executive vice president of sales, John Mendel, said the CR-Z would create its own niche in the market.

“The CR-Z is a personal sport hybrid coupe for people with a spirit of adventure and an elevated sense of responsibility toward the environment.

“It’s the first hybrid designed to maximise style and fun, in addition to efficiency and economy,” he said.

Honda has confirmed that the car will go on sale in late summer in the US (July/August) this year powered by a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine and the sixth generation of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist hybrid-electric system – which first appeared on the Insight in 2000.

The i-VTEC system controls the opening and closing of one intake valve per cylinder to enhance combustion at low revs.

The 10kW electric motor assists in acceleration and also acts as a generator during braking or coasting to capture kinetic energy that recharges the 100 volt IMA nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The petrol engine can automatically turn off during vehicle stops to improve efficiency

Combined peak output from the six-speed manual CR-Z is 91kW at 6000rpm and 174Nm (167Nm with the CVT) of torque from as low as 1000rpm.

Preliminary fuel economy estimates have the CVT at 6.5 litres/100km in city driving and 6.2 on the highway, while the manual should come close to 7.6 litres/100km in the city and 6.4 on the highway.

The CR-Z’s three-mode drive system allows the driver to select between individual modes of performance for Sport, Normal and Economy driving styles, activated via three backlit buttons to the left of the steering wheel.

Sport mode enhances engine throttle responsiveness, electric power steering and electric motor power assist and illuminates the inner ring of the tachometer bright red.

Econ mode gives priority to fuel efficiency with the electric motor stepping in to a greater degree and the air conditioning system reducing its load on the engine. Predictably the tacho glows green in Econ mode.

Normal mode simply defaults all the steering, engine, motor and air con settings with the tacho transitioning between blue and green.

The CR-Z comes standard with stability control, ABS and EBD and front/side/curtain airbags.

Available in two trim levels, the entry level CR-Z gets CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and cruise control.

The top spec CR-Z EX adds High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with auto on/off, premium sound system with a subwoofer, Bluetooth and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Specific pricing and on-sale details will be revealed closer to the CR-Z’s mid-year US launch.




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