Honda unveiled its face-lifted CR-Z in Japan on Thursday, Automotive News is reporting, which means the slow-selling car will have a future in the U.S. and Canada for at least another year.
The updated nose and redesigned rear bumper cover the fact that the car hasn’t mechanically changed from this year. The same 130-horsepower, four-cylinder hybrid will power the car, mated to either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission.
Despite its critical reception as a relatively slow sportscar, engineers increased the size of the CR-Z’s brakes 10 millimeters.
Honda is doing a bit of late spring cleaning as it looks to get its hybrid house in order. The automaker announced production of the Civic CNG has ended and multiple hybrid models will soon get the axe.
Honda isn’t abandoning hybrid technology, however, as John Mendel, Executive Vice President, Automobile Division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., hinted there are replacements in the pipeline in a release sent out today.
Once upon a time I wanted a Pontiac Fiero. Then the original Honda CRX awakened me to the joys of driving a small car sideways. It was what the Fiero, similarly pitched as an economical commuter, should have been. In comparison, even the second-generation CRX seemed too large, too refined, and disappointingly dull. Fast forward a quarter century, and the Honda Insight is perhaps the most disappointing car I’ve driven in recent years. So when Honda announced that it would base a new two-seater on the Insight, and call it the CR-Z, I fearfully predicted that it would look like the CRX, but drive like the Insight. And?
It’s now way past bedtime, and I’m driving the new Honda CR-Z in one of those neighborhoods you wouldn’t be making your evening stroll in. Heads turn, necks stretch, fingers point. Blacked out windows of blacked out SUVs are rolled down. Everybody on the street seems to approve Honda’s new creation, but no one knows it’s a hybrid.
You can test drive a CR-Z for yourself starting on August 24, and goodness knows we’ll be lining up for a crack at it. Early reviews from Europe confirm the impression left by the stat sheet: the CR-Z is neither the re-birth of the CRX, nor the re-birth of the Mk1 Insight. And starting at $19,200, it’s not exactly cheap either [press release here]. Yes, it offers AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry, and cruise control at that base price, and quite a bit more in the $20,760 CR-Z EX, but is there a market in the US for a hybrid that’s smaller than a Prius but less efficient? And didn’t the Mk2 Insight already answer that question? We’ll wait to put the CR-Z through its paces before we pass (further) judgment, but this has the look of a Fiero-style “commuter car” rather than a legitimate sports coupe.
Honda is perplexed and overwhelmed by the demand for their just launched CR-Z small sports hybrid car, says The Nikkei [sub]. Honda had planned for 1000 a month, which turned out to be a big mistake. After one month, they already have more than 10,000 orders, and a hard time filling them. They’ve sold in one month what they wanted to sell in a year, more or less, and the orders keep pouring in. (Read More…)
The “First Drive” is one of the perennial stumbling blocks of automotive journalism. In return for exclusive access to the latest, most-hyped automobiles that everyone wants to get their hands on, outlets like Edmunds Inside Line are asked to swath their “First Drive” write-up in the most glowing terms possible. Or, as we’ve put it before, the price of an exclusive story is a straight face. Unfortunately the results of this kind of compromise are difficult to read with straight face. We’ve seen no better example of this than Inside Line’s recent “First Drive” of the Honda CR-Z, which yielded such unfortunate lines as:
The CR-Z is like a Tesla Roadster, but without the $109,000 price tag.
You know, besides having a different powertrain driving different wheels, a huge performance disparity, and, well, everything else.
The first videos of the Honda CR-Z lapping Suzuka have surfaced, and they’re about as exciting as C-Span after a handful of Valium. And this is apparently a tuned version. Between this and the recent pre-launch equivocation by the CR-Z’s chief engineer, our expectations for Honda’s Insight Coupe couldn’t get much lower [via Autoblog].
When the production version of the Honda CR-Z debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, TTAC’s judgment was swift and harsh. Paul Niedermeyer’s piece “Why The Honda CR-Z Is So Ugly And Should Never Have Been Built” met with more agreement than dissent, and with good reason. Even though the hybrid coupe is still months away from going on sale, Honda engineers and dealers are already talking about their misgivings about the project, belying the project’s lack of originality and its poor chances for commercial success. CR-Z Chief Engineer Norio Tomobe describes his struggle to initiate the project to Automotive News [sub].
We had serious doubts about whether this would bring new value. I really struggled for a new idea, and we decided to start over from scratch. The hybrid finally gave us the wow factor.
This also marked the point where Honda’s US bosses started to lose interest in the project. (Read More…)
Honda’s half-hearted approach to hybrids is about to be shaken up, possibly leading to the development of a hybrid system that goes beyond Honda’s traditional integrated motor assist (IMA) system. Automotive News [sub] reports that Honda CEO, Takanobu Ito has told his Research and Development staff to develop a hybrid which beats the Toyota Prius in fuel economy. Or else. This development probably has something to do the failure of the Honda Insight (Prius sales in 2009 were 139,682. Insight sales for the same period: 20,572); as Honda Executive VP, John Mendel said “Are we happy with how sales are going? No, we’re not happy.” Mr Ito made it clear that Honda’s hybrid line up is a top priority. “We want to develop and expand our hybrids,” said Ito. “We made some major sacrifices to shift people and resources to do that.”