Since its first-generation Insight was made available on the road in November 1999, Honda has been able to sell more than 800,000 hybrid vehicles. The automaker was the first in the world to launch a hybrid model. The Insight delivered 83 miles per gallon, which means that it had the highest fuel economy from among the petrol-powered automobiles at the time.
Honda currently sells seven hybrid models in 50 nations. The vehicles are fitted with the automaker's original compact and lightweight Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system. The company has sold at least 22,000 hybrids in the United Kingdom since the original Insight was launched in 2000. Now, the hybrid range consists of the Jazz Hybrid, Insight and CR-Z.
The annual global sales of the automaker's hybrids in 2011 were around 200,000 units, an increase by 30% compared to the figures in 2010. In the past three years, Honda's total hybrid sales surpassed 500,000 units. In Japan, the hybrid vehicles comprise more than 45% of all the new Honda vehicle registrations in December last year.
The core part of the CR-Z’s design brief circles around its aim to give the ultimate driving experience to its drivers while its chassis was designed to become the key player in creating the car’s character. Some of its platform components come from the Insight except for its wheelbase, track width and set-up that are all bespoke for this new coupe hybrid.
On the outside, the CR-Z is styled around a “one-motion wedge” concept sporting a low bonnet line and wide stance. These give the car a sporty and exciting exterior attracting younger drivers. Its split level rear glass hatch and aerodynamic, shallow raked roofline suggest a Honda CRX ancestor except for its modern deep, muscular sculpting.
Working hand in hand with its driver-focused six-speed manual gearbox is a fuel efficient, low emission parallel hybrid system. This combination is a first for Honda and is made possible by its flexible IMA hybrid system. Alongside its manual transmission is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, another unique CR-Z feature which will also be a first in the UK.
Furthermore, a 14 PS electric motor, found in between the medium capacity engine and transmission, provides an additional torque of 78 Nm. The combination of the 1.5-liter mid-engine and the IMA parallel hybrid system’s power and torque produces an overall power output of 124 PS and 174 Nm of torque – the latter similar to that of a 1.8-liter Civic, the only difference is that the CR-Z offers only 117 g/km of CO2 emissions, 35 g/km less than that of the 1.8-liter Civic.
Thanks to its electric motor, the CR-Z can achieve an unusually flat torque curve at 1500 rpm maximum arriving which is unusual for a naturally-aspirated engine. The surprises don’t end there as the IMA assisted engine combined with the CR-Z’ six-speed manual transmission gives a great in-gear flexibility, low exhaust emissions and a sporty exhaust note.
Moreover, the CR-Z is fitted with a unique 3-Mode Drive System as a bonus to its potential drivers and to enhance the car’s day to day drivability. It enables the driver to choose between three driving modes – each of which works by altering responses from the throttle, steering, idle stop timing, climate control and IMA system level of assistance.