Currently reading: Hot CR-Z will be a hybrid
New, more powerful IMA system could power Type R version of hybrid coupe

Honda R&D chief Tomohiko Kawanabe has confirmed that the firm is working on a high-performance CR-Z hybrid.

In an exclusive interview with Autocar, Kawanabe admitted that development work on the more powerful two-door has started, and that — contrary to earlier reports — it will keep its IMA hybrid system.

“It’s true: we are working on a more powerful CR-Z,” he said. “Our problem with the car as it stands is that it looks very good, but it doesn’t have the performance some customers expect.”

Autocar’s sources suggest that Honda might turn to a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine for the new CR-Z, but Kawanabe refused to confirm this.

"The decision on the engine hasn’t been made,” he said. “Turbocharging is an option, but a high-compression petrol engine would work better in tandem with a hybrid assist system.”

It is highly likely that the faster CR-Z will use Honda’s next-generation IMA system, which will appear first in the US-market Civic Hybrid next year.

Featuring lithium ion batteries, the new IMA will be capable of producing twice as much power as Honda’s nickel-metal hydride system, without requiring a larger battery.

A more sophisticated coupling should also allow it to fully disengage from the engine during brake energy regeneration (something the current IMA system can’t do), allowing it to recapture more kinetic energy to recycle as electric power.

The problem for the CR-Z’s performance will be Honda’s efficiency targets. “It will not be acceptable for the new car to be less fuel efficient than the current one,” Kawanabe said. “The CR-Z must deliver low CO2 emissions, as well as be fun to drive.”

That being the case, a combined petrol-electric power increase to 160bhp is likely, delivered without compromising fuel efficiency thanks to that more powerful hybrid system.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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