By Nauman Farooq
Last year, Honda launched the second-generation Insight, which made headlines for being the cheapest hybrid on the market.
However, most Canadian automotive journalists did not give the Insight high marks, many even marking it as the “worst car of 2009.”
At the 2010 North American International Auto Show, Honda has launched another hybrid, and they hope to get a much better reception from the press this time.
The car is called the CR-Z, and Honda claims that it is the spiritual, modern day successor to the much loved CRX model from the 1980’s.
Like the CRX, the CR-Z is a two-door hatchback, with a very fuel-efficient 1.5-liter, four cylinder engine. Mated to that is an electric, hybrid drive system, and thus produces a moderate 122hp in total. So it should zip around quite nicely.
You’ll get a choice of gearboxes too. You can either have a CVT automatic or a six-speed manual transmission, the later being the choice of enthusiasts.
However, some enthusiasts are less than impressed with its weight, the CR-Z tips the scales at 2800 lbs. That makes it heavier than a base Civic (2630 lbs.) and much heavier than the original CRX (2000 lbs.).
The end result is that the fuel-economy figures are not what you’d call jaw-droppingly good. Honda claims the CR-Z will consume about 6.0-liters/100km. A base Civic averages about 8.0-liters/100km and the old CRX used to manage around 7.0-liters/100km.
More notably, the unloved Insight easily manages 5.3-liters/100km.
So it seems the CR-Z is not all about economy, even though it is a hybrid. Honda says it is suppose to be a fun to drive sports coupe, the driver can even select between Normal, Economy and Sport mode. The rev counter even starts glowing red when put in Sport mode.
There is good hope regarding its handling, because the man who helped set up the CR-Z chassis also helped set up the legendary Acura NSX. So if the CR-Z can carve corners like a true sportscar, it will find a loyal following, just like the CRX did.
Hopefully one day Honda will consider doing a light weight version of the CR-Z by removing the hybrid system and slotting in a compact, high-revving VTEC motor. That will certainly win over some enthusiasts.
The CR-Z is expected to be in showrooms later this year. Pricing has not been announced yet, but expect it to be similar to the current Insight.