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AIMS: Honda set for CR-Z launch

Hybrid hero: Honda’s sporty CR-Z headlines the Japanese brand’s AIMS stand and is now set to reach dealer showrooms late this year.

Honda to show off CR-Z hybrid in Melbourne as fresh Accord Euro reaches showrooms

Honda logo27 Jun 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

HONDA will use the 2011 Australian International Motor Show opening on Friday to herald the forthcoming market launch of its image-leading CR-Z hybrid coupe and to reinforce its current range with freshly upgraded models, including the facelifted Accord Euro.

Honda Australia has confirmed the new-generation Civic small car due for release early next year will not be at the Melbourne show, and that prospective new vehicles – such as hybrid and all-electric versions of the Jazz light car – are not expected to make an appearance.

Instead, Honda will roll out the CR-Z – as it has done before – although this time with a late-2011 market launch now in sight after pushing the date back in the wake of production delays stemming from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Billed as the world’s first hybrid vehicle to come with a six-speed manual transmission, the CR-Z is powered by a version of the Insight’s mild-hybrid drivetrain, in this case combining an 84kW/145Nm 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with a 10kW/78Nm electric motor/generator for a total system output of 83kW at 6100rpm and 174Nm from 1000-1500rpm.

Honda claims the CR-Z can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 10.1 seconds while returning 5.0L/100km EU combined-cycle fuel economy and 117g/km of CO2.

15 center imageLeft: Honda CR-Z. Below: Honda Accord Euro sedan.

Battling a sales downturn this year of 27.6 per cent to the end of May, Honda Australia has responded with a host of price cuts and recent upgrades across its current range, including the Civic sedan and hatch, Accord V6, Odyssey people-mover and Jazz light car.

The company has now confirmed that its facelifted Accord Euro will reach showrooms from July 1, bringing with it a fresh look – as seen at the Geneva motor show in March – and more standard equipment.

Cosmetic enhancements include a new two-bar grille replacing the three-bar version and restyling for the front bumper, foglight surrounds and air intakes, while at the rear there is a chrome strip on the bootlid and a ‘softer’ red colouring for the tail-lights.

Inside, equipment upgrades across the range include steering-wheel-integrated Bluetooth, USB connectivity, trailer stability assist system and a new foldaway key design.

The entry-level Accord also picks up automatic headlights and rain-sensing windscreen wipers, while the range-topping Luxury Navigation model benefits from new bi-Xenon headlights complete with automatic low/high beam and a cornering function.

The latter is a first for Honda and operates at speeds up to 40km/h.

Cabin detailing has also gone up a notch with a new satin-finish garnish on the doorhandles, centre console, steering wheel and other interior components.

A 148kW 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine continues to power the Accord Euro range, although minor tweaks see fuel efficiency improved by 2.2 per cent for six-speed manual variants and 4.5 per cent for those with a five-speed automatic transmission.

Pricing for the upgraded range is still to be announced.

Further to our report earlier this month detailing changes to the larger Thai-built Accord range, Honda Australia has confirmed that a new luxury-oriented four-cylinder VTi L N variant is now available, offering high-grade equipment such as satellite-navigation, a reversing camera, premium audio system (including subwoofer), ‘intelligent’ dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning and new five-arm twin-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels.

Pricing for the new Accord variant is still to be confirmed.

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