I don’t normally get excited about hybrids. They’re pretty humdrum if you ask me, and I was into performance vehicles way before I was into alternative fuels. The Prius is boring, the Fusion is just a Fusion, and the Insight and downright ugly.
But Honda seems to have been listening, having announced that the aggressively styled CR-Z concept hatch will make it into production as a 2011 model for Japan and America. This is a hybrid car I could actually see myself driving.
What you see here is a not-quite-production model of the two-seat CR-Z hybrid. If differs from the 2007 CR-Z concept in that is loses the unrealistic glass-and-plastic rear hatch and tiny backseats. The CR-Z (which stands for Compact Renaissance Zero, implying more than one perhaps?) is based on the old CRX from the late ’80s, a car that was both sporty and fuel efficient.
What really helps the CR-Z stand out from other hybrid competition will be the offering of a six-speed manual transmission gearbox. So far as I know, no other hybrid on the market offers a manual transmission (due perhaps to the complicated nature of their drive trains). A six-speed transmission and hybrid drivetrain will net great fuel economy numbers, perhaps even outdoing the Prius though nothing official has been announced. You can read about Gas 2.0’s exclusive interview with Honda Chief Engineer Mr. Yamamoto regarding the CR-Z earlier this year.
Honda is waiting for a full unveil until the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. Perhaps they’ll even include a sporty “torque dump” mode for the electric drive train for an extra shot of go-fast off the line? That might be wishful thinking, but still…