2011 Honda CR-Z at the Detroit Auto Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 10, 2010

Before hitting US stores this summer, the 2011 Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid Coupe made an appearance at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. Powering the hybrid is a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with Honda's compact and lightweight Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric system.

This engine has a maximum power of 122 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque between 1,000 and 1,500 rpm. If the car comes equipped with a CVT, these figures are slightly lower with 123 lb-ft of torque.

Official figures with regards to final fuel consumption and emission data have not been released but preliminary figures are pointing to 36 city/38 highway mpg on CVT-equipped model and 31 city/37 highway mpg for a manual transmission.

In standard form, the car is equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, 16-inch aluminum wheels, dual-stage front, front-side, side and side-curtain airbags, USB capable CD/radio with six speakers, climate control, power windows and locks, and cruise control.

The car owner may also opt to equip the car with high-intensity discharge lighting, fog lamps, a premium stereo, Bluetooth, and leather-wrapped wheel and satellite navigation. Pricing information is not yet available. However, sources say that the CR-Z Sport hybrid coupe is likely to have the same range as the Insight.

While the Honda CR-Z is a unique car, its connection with the CR-X is rather obvious when considering the original design and aim. When the CR-X was originally launched way back in 1983, it received a warm response from the U.S. and Europe market. Agile and compact at the same time, it managed to change how people thought of Honda.

This 2+2 compact coupe has a shallow sloping roof line and a double window rear hatch. Furthermore, it is clear that the car’s design was greatly influenced mainly by the need to be more aerodynamic thus making it light and compact. However, what many people do not know is that the reason the CR-X was created in the first place was to get the top rating in terms of fuel economy as set by the EPA. It was also aimed at breaking the U.S. barrier of 50 mpg.

With a lighter weight and a more compact wheelbase, the Honda CR-X turned out to be a car that was fun to drive and one that provided good handling. Takonobu Ito, CEO and President of Honda, said that the company knew that there was a need to have more cars that are environmentally-friendly.

Ito made this comment during the 2010 Detroit motor show where the CR-Z also made its first appearance. During that same motor show, Ito shared that it was during the 1980s when he first arrived for his first U.S. assignment. He helped developed the chassis of the CR-X first generation, then known as the "pocket rocket," as a young engineer for Honda, Ito added.

Ito recalls that the CR-X showed people that a car can be both fuel efficient while being sporty. Times may have changed but the notion of developing cars that offer driving fun and fuel efficiency remains to be alive and well.

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