Back in 1999, Honda gave birth to a brand new sector in the United States, bringing the Insight hybrid on American soil. It was the beginning of a new era, pretty much continued by new products that had one major thing in common: a hybrid powertrain. All of them were mostly focused on the same criteria: efficiency and low emissions, while paying less attention to other important things, such as exterior design or performance.
The Insight was in its initial form a two-seater hybrid hatchback, but sales failed to reach expectations, barely amounting to 17,020 units since its debut. The Insight however wasn't exactly the best ride on Earth and it was often considered underpowered, slow, uncomfortable and ugly. Things were significantly changed once the Japanese company rolled out the second generation Insight, with the new version involved in a fierce battle with Toyota's Prius.
But Honda took its green efforts further than the Insight. It rolled out a few other hybrid vehicles, some of them "greener" versions of the current models, including Civic and Accord. But one of the nicest things in Honda's lineup is actually the model it calls a "sport hybrid" coupe, a 2+2 seater that's basically supposed to bring a whole new perspective over the hybrid image.
The first time the CR-Z smiled in front of the cameras was in 2006 when Honda proved that it was pondering a potential sporty hybrid coupe that could be released in the following years. It was called Honda Remix and was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The second interpretation came to be one year later, this time under a new name - Honda Small Hybrid Sports - and on European soil - Geneva Motor Show.
Honda CEO Takeo Fukui took the wraps of the last embryonic concept vehicle in October, 2007 at the Tokyo Auto Show, revealing at the same time that the future model will be called CR-Z (Compact Renaissance Zero). Little was known about the production version, but the Japanese official emphasized that fans must expect a sporty and affordable model.
Finally, the CR-Z stepped on stage dressed in production clothes in the United States at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, with sales first commencing in Japan in February, the same year. The car arrived in Europe after a few months, and is projected to be launched in the United States anytime soon.
Honda says the CR-Z "will change current perceptions of hybrids" and uses all kinds of superlatives to describe it. Exciting, sporty, athletic, confident and unique, the CR-Z is, at least in Honda's paradise, the perfect twist of a modern hybrid and a sportier attitude.
Since we're pretty much used to hearing all kind of marketing material, we wanted to find out for ourselves whether the CR-Z is indeed so special. We thus received an European-spec model priced at around 21,000 Euros (all taxes includes), with the 2+2 seating arrangement in place.Continue reading