By Windy L Reigns
Across the pond in Japan the Honda CR-Z has been on sale for quite some time. Here in the states, not much has been said about this new sporty hybrid. In fact, unless you are an automobile enthusiast you may have never even heard about the CR-Z, but oh wait, you will soon. Honda is shining the limelight on the CR-Z as it did in the past with the Acura NSX and Honda S2000; which both revolutionized the Honda lineup.. Honda is taking a risk with the hopes that the CR-Z will attract the sports car crowd. From first looks the 2011 Honda CR-Z seems like a confused car. Yes it is identified as a hybrid sports car, but it does not get that great of gas mileage nor is it very sporty. So, what gives? Why is Honda devoting time and energy to a vehicle that is middle of the road? The CR-Z has an underwhelming 122 HP and fuel economy figures are 36 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway. For comparison; the S2000 produced 200 HP and the Civic Hybrid gets 40 MPG city and 45 MPG highway.
Although small the CR-Z is not very light for a two seater car. It weighs in at 2560 lbs. The CR-Z draws power from the same 1.5 liter engine as the Honda Fit, this combined with an electric only generates 122 HP and a mere 128 lb-ft of torque.. However, what 2011 Honda CR-Z is missing in power it makes up with a stiff chassis and great suspension. The inside of the CR-Z is distinctly Honda.. The futuristic guages are perfectly placed. The ergonomics are great and the space is plentiful enough for two adult passangers. As with any new Honda, you can purchase extra options, but this can swell the price to upwards of $28k. The small 1.5 liter engine features an aluminum block with Hondas famed DOHC V-tech. The compression ratio is 10.4:1. This makes for 111 HP and 106 lb-ft. torque from the engine. The additional power from the electric motor increases horsepower by 11 and adds 22 extra lb-ft. torque very low in the RPM range which helps off the line acceleration. The CR-Z also has Honda's integrated motor assist which is present in all Honda hybrids. The CR-Z also has start/stop technology which in essence turns off the engine any time you are idle. The engine is activated again by simply hitting the accelerator pedal. The continuously variable transmission keeps the engine in its sweet spot.
All these fuel saving technologies intermix to give the CR-Z a rating of 36 MPG city and 38 MPG highway.|This smart mixture of energy saving technologies allows the Honda CR-Z to boast an MPG rating of 36 city and 38 highway. The CR-Z also comes with 3 driving modes: sport, normal, economy|Three driving modes are available on the CR-Z: sport, normal and economy to allow the driver to select the most efficient use of fuel. With the push of a button the desired driving mode can be selected. Sport mode adds assertive performance and steering. Fuel efficiency is maximized in the economy mode. The 2011 Honda CR-Z does 0-60 mph in 10.6 seconds, and finishes the quarter mile in 17.6 seconds. Which is not that impressive, however, the corners are where the CR-Z shines. Millions of sports car owners can attest to the fact that power alone does not make for a good track car. With excellent steering and braking ability the Honda CR-Z is a treat to drive. The suspension consists of MacPherson struts with stiff springs. There are also anti-roll bars and torsion beams. The Honda CR-Z does well on the highways and only time will tell if this little $20k sports hybrid will perform on the track. We will know soon enough if there will be an American market for the new Honda CR-Z.
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Windy Reigns, Author and Car Aficionado
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