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Honda CR-Z coming in 2011 (copyright image)

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15th October, 2010

The Honda CR-Z is unique. Combining the typical features of a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain with a 6-speed manual transmission, this coupe may change the perception of hybrids.

The 1.5 litre four- cylinder i-VTEC engine, coupled with Hondaís Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system produces 91 kilowatts and 174 Newton metres, which peaks at just 1,500 rpm. The torque figure is identical to the 1.8 litre Civic sedan. The electric motor boosts torque at low and medium revs, which gives the CR-Z in-gear flexibility more usually associated with turbocharged engines.

The manual gearbox is a core part of the driver engagement Hondaís engineers wanted to bring to the CR-Z. The flexibility of the IMA hybrid system allows it to be used with a range of transmissions, not just CVT-based gearboxes.

To maximise driver choice and enhance day-to-day driveability, the CR-Z is fitted with a 3-Mode Drive System (NORMAL, ECON and SPORT). This unique feature allows the driver to choose between the driving modes, which alter the responses of the throttle, steering, climate control and the level of assistance provided by the IMA system.†This allows the driver to adapt the carís settings to enjoy their favourite road, maximise economy, or strike a balance between the two.

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The ambient lighting of the speedometer is used in the same way as in the Honda Insight Ė to guide the driver in driving more economically and ecologically. In addition to the Eco Assist function, the CR-Zís meter lighting is linked to the 3-mode drive system. In NORMAL mode and ECON mode the speedometer is illuminated blue, glowing green when driven economically. In ECON mode it has a green eco flower lit in the mode indicator. When the speedometer is illuminated in a red ambient light, this indicates the CR-Z is in SPORT mode.

Careful consideration was given to exhaust design to ensure that as well as being efficient, the CR-Z is a car that encourages the enthusiastic driver and sounds quite unlike any previous compact hybrid. Other components including engine mounts and sound deadening were tuned to ensure that the sporting elements of the exhaust were heard by the driver, but less desirable noises often associated with sports exhausts were attenuated.

The exterior design of CR-Z deliberately evokes the style of the 1980s Honda CR-X, which was originally developed to provide a small, stylish car that could achieve some economy. Signature features of the CR-X, like the split level rear glass hatch and low shallow raked roofline have been referenced in the design of the new coupe and then combined with a curvaceous and deeply sculpted exterior form.

The shallow raked roofline and short tail of the CR-Z is a feature shared with many Hondas past and present, including the CR-X, 1999 Insight and the FCX Clarity. All of these cars have been designed to cut through the air with minimal disturbance, reducing drag to lower fuel consumption and emissions. The CR-Zís headlights are accented with LED day time running lights, which are positioned in the lower section of the front lights. This is the first time LED running lights have been applied to the front of any production Honda car and help to emphasise the wide sporting stance of the new hybrid coupe.

The interior of the production car has been influenced by the cabin of the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show CR-Z Concept, especially the 3D speedometer and driver focussed cabin. The high-technology instrument binnacle places all of the commonly used controls close to the driverís hands, allowing full concentration on driving.

For the first time, a new advanced Electric Power Steering control, that gives a more linear and natural feel to the steering was implemented. The new software, combined with the ability to select the level of assistance through the 3-Mode Drive system, gives the CR-Z a totally different steering feel to other Honda hybrids.

The Honda CR-Z hybrid coupe is due in Honda showrooms mid-2011.


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