This is the world’s first hybrid sports car, the Honda CR-Z, which will go head to head with Volkswagen’s Scirocco when it reaches showrooms next year.
Don’t be fooled by the concept tag that Honda is officially using at the Tokyo motor show; the neat CR-Z in these images is 95 per cent production ready and has altered little from the futuristic vision wheeled out at 2007’s Tokyo show.
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At four metres long and priced from around £18k in the UK, the CR-Z will overlap with the entry-level VW Scirocco 1.4 on price, although its smaller dimensions make it more of a supermini-size three-door.
Power will come from a petrol/electric IMA hybrid powertrain. The system is derived from the Insight, but with a key change: in place of the Insight’s 87bhp 1.3-litre petrol motor is a higher-output 1.5 i-VTEC unit. See the high-res Honda CR-Z picture gallery
Its power figure has yet to be revealed, but the 1.5-litre engine in Japan’s Jazz produces between 110bhp and 120bhp. Even if the unit is untuned, it could give the CR-Z around 135bhp when coupled to an electric motor.
With more power, the CR-Z should improve on the Insight’s 11sec 0-60mph time, perhaps closer to around nine seconds. But consequently, fuel consumption should be greater than the Insight’s 64mpg.
The batteries are understood to be underfloor nickel metal hydride units rather then the latest lithium ion cells.
The CR-Z’s transmission will be a six-speed manual ’box — an unusual choice. Most hybrids use a CVT or automatic, which smooths the flow of power as petrol engine and electric motor interact.
Under the skin is a shortened Insight platform, combining Jazz and Civic parts. The wheelbase has been cut back by a substantial 115mm compared with the Insight (to 2435mm), making it 143mm shorter than that of the Scirocco.
Fans of small Honda coupes will immediately see the likeness between the styling of the wedge-shaped CR-Z and the CR-X models of the 1980s and 1990s.
The cues are most evident in the way the window line kinks up behind the B-pillar and the glass panel across the boot. In an effort to enhance the side glasshouse, the CR-Z has become less slab-sided. The car’s snout is now more sculpted, with the trademark blue lights that are earmarked for all hybrid Hondas.
The interior has modern new touches, too, with elements borrowed from the Insight. To back up the car’s styling promise, sources say Honda has also worked hard to focus the front-drive handling to live up to the CR-X legend.
The CR-Z production car will appear at the Detroit show next January. Sales in Japan kick off in February 2010 and the car reaches the UK next summer.