Honda CR-Z Almost Didn’t Make It To America

Imagine for a second you are the President of Honda’s North American division. The closest thing you have to a performance car right now is the Honda Civic Si, and your main competitor to the Prius, the Insight, is getting killed in the market. The CR-Z two-door hybrid should be a godsend then, right?

Apparently not. The CR-Z almost didn’t make the cut, and US bosses didn’t even want they car. They didn’t think it was unique enough. Maybe they also weren’t wowed by the underwhelming stats like 122 horsepower.

Indeed, in an interview with Automotive News, chief engineer Norio Tomobe says he wishes the CR-Z had “more horsepower”. I agree. That being said, the CR-Z will stand out in the marketplace for being both a hybrid coupe, and having an available six-speed transmission. There is also a Type-R reportedly in the works that will boost horsepower, handling, and improve on its looks.

So maybe it isn’t so hard to see why the CR-Z might be a tough sell to American executives. Despite Honda trying to play up the legacy of the CRX in the CR-Z, the sporty looking hybrid has a lot to prove to a lot of people. Weighing in at 2,800 pounds with just 122 horsepower (102 horsepower petrol engine and a 20 hp electric motor) the CR-Z is not quick. Nor is it exceptionally fuel efficient, with a highway rating of just 39 mpg. It seems the image of a sporty hatchback with a hybrid drive train might confuse consumers. But it is more fuel efficient than most cars, and should have a price tag in the low $20,000’s.

The CR-Z is a bit of a compromise, but as a first generation car, it will have plenty of room to stretch its legs once production gets under way. Honda is aiming to sell around 40,000 units per year to start.

And there is always the Type-R to look forward to.

Source: Edmunds via Automotive News | Image: Honda

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.