Honda to update sporty CR-Z hybrid for 2013

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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If you're a car enthusiast, you've just got to respect Honda's performance-oriented brand credo. While the styling of certain models might not work for you, or maybe you're amongst those left wondering why a car like the two-seat CR-Z hybrid sports coupe even exists when an Accord Hybrid doesn't (that problem will finally be remedied soon) and a midsize Pilot crossover hybrid doesn't even seem to be on the drawing board? Honda certainly marches to the beat of its own eclectic (or should we say electric) drummer.

The brand could have given up on the concept of a two-seat hybrid sports coupe when its original Insight proved too impractical for the majority of buyers and therefore sold in comparatively poor numbers to the Toyota Prius hybrid that came on the scene around the same time in 1999, a model that has since become an icon for the green movement. A number of hybrids came and went over the space of a decade, some successful (Civic Hybrid) and some not (original V6-powered Accord Hybrid), at which point Honda decided the world was ready for another two-seat hybrid sports coupe as long as it was good looking and sufficiently sporty, and so the CR-Z was born in 2010. Now, three model years later, a refreshed 2013 CR-Z is heading our way.

The new CR-Z is taking a detour through Europe, mind you, where it was first shown to Paris auto show goers. Wearing a new face, replete with a revised grille, a sportier front fascia, new headlamp clusters incorporating de rigueur LED running lights, plus a reworked rear diffuser, not to mention an extremely deep, rich aubergine purple paint hue that Honda calls Aurora Violet (Energetic Yellow has been added to the Euro colour palette too), the 2013 CR-Z should prove more appealing to the electrified sports coupe crowd (new 17-inch alloy rims are shown on this Euro-spec GT model too, although its unknown if these will make their way here). What's under its sculpted hood might be even more alluring, however.

The European-spec model, at least, utilizes the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine and electric motor combination as the current CR-Z, but the gasoline engine has been modified with an updated variable valve timing system and Engine Control Unit (ECU), while a newly developed crankshaft has been added, as has an anti-vibration knock sensor. The result is more output at 121-horsepower (PS) instead of just 114, a 7-horsepower bump for a little more jump off the line (the North American SAE horsepower rating will be 1.38-percent lower). But wait, there's more.

The CR-Z's electric motor has been given the boost too, with 6 additional horsepower (PS), from 14 to 20 (10 kW to 15 kW), plus the old Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery is replaced with a Lithium Ion (Li-ion) unit. Altogether the new 2013 CR-Z's gasoline-electric Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) powertrain provides 137 horsepower (an increase of 13-horsepower) and 140 lb-ft of torque (an additional 16).

How does this compute in real performance? The sprint to 100km/h is reduced by 0.7 seconds, says Honda, arriving at 9.3 seconds (96.6 km/h in 9.1 seconds), while the CR-Z's top speed is 200 km/h. Sports car territory? Not really, but plenty sporty for a car that consumes just 6.0 L/100km of fuel in the city, 4.4 on the highway and 5.2 combined (European cycle) in its most fuel-efficient Sport trim level (Canadian fuel economy figures will be released before it goes on sale here, but they are unlikely to change from the current 2012 CR-Z rating of 6.5 L/100km city and 5.3 highway with the manual or 5.6 and 5.0 respectively with the CVT automatic. The CR-Z also gives owners the feel-good benefit of being much cleaner than the average car, with a CO2 rating of only 116 g/km.

Enhancing the performance equation, Honda has added a new Plus Sport (S+) button on the steering wheel. As long as the battery is more than 50-percent charged, simply press the S+ button and you'll get up to 10 seconds of additional boost. And the best part is that it's ready when you are. Instead of needing to switch from one of the CR-Z's two more economically focused driving modes, "ECON" or "Normal" to "Sport" in order to access more power, the S+ button can be used in any driving mode.

Honda has also updated the CR-Z's cabin with a new colour scheme, new materials and LED backlighting, while a press release points out that "revisions to the door casings improve cabin storage."

The 2013 Honda CR-Z will be available throughout the UK in January, while an announcement for the Canadian sales release is expected soon.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Hybrid, HEV, Honda, 2013, CR-Z, $20,000 - $29,999,

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