Honda reimagines sporty compact coupe; gets hybrid powertrain, retro styling
9 October 2007

Enthusiasts have been clamouring at Honda for years to build a new CR-X. After many false starts, diversions and denials, at last a true successor to that brilliant, tiny Honda sports coupe is on the cards. And here’s the proof. Dubbed CR-Z (for Compact Renaissance Zero), this is the most realistic and serious yet of the three CR-X concept proposals that Honda’s floated on the show circuit over the past year. Conceived in Japan, officially CR-Z is a “design study” and rare example of Honda design retro, reviving much of the look of those two classic CR-X coupes built between 1983 and 1992. If you like the look of it, that’s good, because a production version has already been signed off, according to an insider, keeping much of the style and proportions of the CR-Z (including that aggressive RX-8-style nose) albeit with some design tweaks. And the surprise news comes in the fact that it’ll be a replacement not only for the CR-Z, but also Honda’s quirky Insight coupe; in other words, as a small hybrid coupe. Power’s supplied by a small three-stage i-VTEC petrol engine and IMA hybrid electric motor. Honda’s not saying anything more about the engine at this point, but it may well be the 1.4-litre in the new Jazz, which linked to the IMA motor, should serve up pretty strong performance, coupled with good economy and low emissions at the same time. Still, judging by the size of CR-Z, Honda’s little sports coupe baby has really grown up.CR-Z is nearly a foot longer and 4in wider than the last CR-X from 1992, although height stays almost the same. The concept also rolls on sizeable 215/45 R19 tyres. The CR-Z’s cabin is very stylishly done with thin leather, a mesh sports seats and a very cool digital instrument pack. And for the first time in CR-X history, there’s a decent back seat.

Peter Nunn

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