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First look: Honda’s road-ready CR-Z

CR-X reborn: Honda will show the road-ready CR-Z hybrid sports coupe in Tokyo.

CR-Z hybrid sportscar nears production readiness as Honda reveals its Tokyo wares

Honda logo30 Sep 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

HONDA has revealed what appears to be a production-ready version of its cool CR-Z hybrid sports coupe concept, which made its global debut two years ago at the 2007 Tokyo motor show.

Although it continues to be labelled a concept (the “CR-Z Concept 2009”, in fact) the latest Honda vehicle to wear the CR-Z moniker features a less aggressive - but still sleek - front bumper, road-ready wing mirrors instead of the original showcar’s fanciful blade-type items and revised rear sheetmetal that continues to mimic the original CRX’s sawn-off rear profile with double-decker rear hatch glass.

Due to make its world premiere at the 41st Tokyo show on October 21 before going on sale early next year in Japan before gracing the rest of the world soon after, the CR-Z also features a conventional metal (rather than glass) roof, production-ready (instead of blade-type LED) headlights and less radical wheels.

15 center imageThe CR-Z will be the second new-generation hybrid to be released by Honda since the MkII Insight hatchback that went on sale with immediate success in Japan in February.

The new Insight will not be released in Australia until the second half of next year due to production demand at Honda’s Suzuka plant in Japan, leaving the Civic Hybrid to soldier on as the only petrol-electric alternative to Toyota’s Prius from Honda, whose original two-door Insight actually beat the first Prius on sale in Australia.

The hybrid CR-Z, which takes obvious styling cues from the popular CRX coupe sold in Australia between November 1987 and May 1992, is unlikely to reach our shores until 2011 if it emulates the Insight’s overseas success elsewhere.

While the Civic-based CRX, which was last sold at $29,600, was powered by a 94kW 1.6-litre VTEC inline petrol four, the born-again CR-Z will be an affordable sports coupe with a green tinge in the form of a petrol-electric drive system based on the Insight’s.

Honda Australia spokesman Mark Higgins confirmed the new CR-Z concept was closer to production than its forebear.

“The normal course of events is that concepts go through development phases,” he said. “This is clearly another phase of the CR-Z’s development.

“If it goes into production, and I believe it will, I understand the CR-Z will go on sale in Japan in the first half of 2010, with a global rollout to follow some time after that.” Honda will also use the Tokyo show to stage world debuts of a six-passenger “multi-purpose” hybrid vehicle dubbed the Skydeck, and the EV-N battery-electric vehicle with a retro twist (see separate story).

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