2011 Honda CR-Z

This spiritual successor to the venerable Honda CR-X originally made its debut as a concept car two years ago at the Tokyo Motor Show. And now, at this year’s show, Honda has revealed a new CR-Z, a 2-seat hybrid sports coupe that looks very much like the final production version scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in the second half of 2010.

"Beyond great styling and features, the CR-Z will bring new levels of engagement and fun to customers interested in a small car or a hybrid vehicle," says Eric Berkman, Honda’s vice president of planning.

Fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission and sport-tuned suspension, the upcoming CR-Z certainly will be engaging for the driver, the first hybrid sports coupe on the market. Although the car on display at Tokyo has a tiny back seat, the production CR-Z (which makes its worldwide debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January) is a sporty 2-seater, one with the added practicality of a hatchback.

Conveying its fun-to-drive nature, the CR-Z boasts a bold grille, slit openings for the headlamps and strong character lines that give this Honda an aggressive, angular look. It’s taller and less rounded that the original concept, making it much more practical and ready for production.

One styling cue that connects the CR-Z to the highly entertaining original CR-X is the shape of the rear quarter glass. Beneath the hood, the front-wheel-drive CR-Z is powered by a stronger version of the Insight's 1.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid powertrain. Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist works like an electric supercharger, effectively boosting both off-the-line response and fuel economy.

The CR-Z concept's interior features more glitz than the production model will, but the layout will remain the same, with the main instrument bezel positioned behind a 3-spoke steering wheel flanked by pods for the auxiliary controls. With the CR-Z—which goes into production at Honda’s Suzuka factory in February—it appears that we will now be able to mix a healthy dose of driving fun with environmental consciousness.

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