Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My thoughts on the 2011 Honda CR-Z

As you may have heard, Honda has shown us the production version of its highly anticipated CR-Z hybrid. Dubbed a "Sport Hybrid Coupe" by Honda, many people were hoping for a worthy successor to the iconic CRX. There's been a lot of buzz, so here are my two cents.

The CRX was always light weight, maneuverable, frugal, and fairly inexpensive. It was a Spartan front-wheel driver with two seats, and although it didn't have tons of power (never more than 108 hp in the U.S.), it never weighed much, either (no more than 2,174 lbs.). That equated to one of the most fun cars you could buy that drove the wrong wheels front wheels—and you could get up to 50 mpg with the HF model. Even the sporty Si got an EPA estimated 32/35 MPG.

When Honda put out its press release at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show last week, the car's specifications looked a bit underwhelming to those hoping for an updated CRX.

According to the press release, the CR-Z will make 122 hp and twist 128 ft./lbs. of torque and and get 36 city, 38 highway with the CVT, and 31/37 with the six-speed manual. Wait—isn't his a hybrid? Not exactly impressive, eh? Allegedly, the car will weigh 2,800 lbs., no doubt due to its heavy batteries. So 2,800 lbs with only 122 hp/128 tq doesn't sound like we should expect too much performance.

However, this is the missing link: performance numbers. If this thing is mega quick and handles like a Ferrari—or at least an Acrua RSX—then perhaps the haters will be somewhat silenced. And maybe it has fantastic driving dynamics. Then again, with the power-to-weight ratio, perhaps there won't be much to see.

The other bane of those hoping for a new CRX is the CR-Z's styling, most notably the overly large frontal overhang. Indeed, there is a lot of material in front of the front wheels. This is classically something that does not contribute to a sporty look. Although I'm not a fan of the front end, I do like the car's rear, and I like the interior, too. And, with the optional 17" wheels, I don't think it looks too bad, even with the overbite.

I'm withholding a final verdict until I can 1) see the car in person, 2) read some performance numbers, and 3) drive one. However, thus far, these specs, fuel economy—and the frontal overhang—aren't too hot.

What really gets me is the fuel economy, though. A non-hybrid, manual-transmission-equipped 2010 Honda Fit gets 33 highway MPG. The much larger Honda Insight hybrid gets 40/43 MPG. The old Insight hybrid got 49/59 with a manual transmission, and it was a two-door coupe, too. So, why does a new tiny hybrid two-door coupe only get 37 highway MPG? The answer, I'm hoping, is because of outstanding performance ... but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, check out the video from the introduction at the Detroit Auto Show:


adamaoc said...

I was halfway impressed with the concept but really let down seeing and hearing about the car they showed at Detroit.
I just don’t have much faith in Honda anymore…

Adam at

Andy Lilienthal said...

I'm a Honda fan, don't get me wrong (between my wife and me, we've owned seven Hondas, including two CRXs). Sans the Fit, I'm just not that thrilled about the lineup. I don't like the looks of the new Accord much, the Civic has gotten quite large (although I still like the Si), Element and Ridgeline don't do it for me, and the S2000 is going the way of the Dodo for 2010. I do like the Fit, and think the CR-V is still a nice mini ute. However, Honda has kind of lost me lately (which is probably why I'm driving Toyota and Suzuki these days).

spencer said...

I just don't see the point at a "sporty hybrid" if it doesn't even have hybrid like MPGs. I would like it a lot more if it had a more clear purpose... I am just really confused by it.

spencer said...

Lol @ "S2000 is going the way of the Dodo"