A hybrid model featuring a manual transmission would surely raise some eyebrows. In fact, Honda CR-Z is the first hybrid in the world that comes with a six-speed manual unit, but the combination with an i-VTEC engine and an IMA motor was created with a single goal in mind: give the driver more control. Easy to say, hard to do. More control to the driver means in the end that fuel efficiency and engine power come down to driving skills.
Nevertheless, Honda tried to minimize the impact of using a manual transmission by introducing the so-called 3-Mode Drive System which allows the driver to modify the car's settings depending on his needs. Basically, the driver has to choose between three (pretty much self-explanatory) predefined modes - ECON, Normal and Sport - to alter the vehicle's configuration, including the throttle response, the steering, climate control or the way the electric motor works.
Since we're talking about the electric unit, the CR-Z employs the IMA system, shared with the Insight hybrid, but revised to better interact with the three aforementioned modes. Backed by a 100.8 volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the electric motor makes sure that the peak torque is provided at just 1500 rpm, having a major contribution to both performance figures and fuel efficiency levels.
The 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine on the other hand comes straight from Honda's Jazz but underwent an upgrade programme to fulfill the new requirements. The original dimensions didn't allow the engine to be fitted inside the CR-Z, so Honda developed a brand new intake manifold which also leaves enough room for extra pedestrian protection space.
According to the official technical specifications, the CR-Z engines develop 124 horsepower and 174 Nm of torque. Individually, the gasoline unit generates 114 horsepower and 145 Nm of torque, while the electric motor adds 14 horsepower and 78.4 Nm of torque. Coupled to the six-speed manual transmission, it goes from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 9.9 seconds, while topping at 200 km/h (124.2 mph).Continue reading