|The 2011 Honda CR-Z EX. Click to enlarge.|
Honda introduced the 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe at the North American International Auto Show. The CR-Z is now Honda’s third hybrid currently in the market, along with the Civic Hybrid and new Insight. The CR-Z represents the sixth unique version of Honda’s original IMA technology since the launch of the 2000 Insight, the first hybrid vehicle available in North America in December 1999.
Set to go on sale in late summer 2010 in the US, the two-passenger CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid-electric system. A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is available.
The foundation of the CR-Z hybrid powertrain is the 4-cylinder, 16-valve, single overhead cam engine with intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) that receives additional power from the IMA system’s DC brushless electric motor.
The i-VTEC system controls the opening and closing of one intake valve per cylinder to enhance combustion at low RPMs. The 10 kW electric motor assists in acceleration and also acts as a generator during braking or coasting to capture kinetic energy that recharges the 100V IMA NiMH battery pack. The gasoline engine can automatically turn off during vehicle stops to improve efficiency.
The system delivers an estimated combined peak output of 122 hp (91 kW) at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft (174 N·m) of torque at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm (123 lb-ft on CVT-equipped models). Preliminary fuel economy estimates are anticipated to result in an EPA rating of 36 city/38 highway miles per gallon on CVT-equipped models. Manual transmission models are anticipated to achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 31 city/37 highway miles per gallon. The CR-Z is rated as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) in states that adhere to California Air Resource Board (CARB) ZEV standards (EPA Tier 2, Bin 2 in all states).
The standard six-speed manual transmission is engineered for optimal acceleration performance in gears one through five and for optimal fuel economy in sixth gear. When starting on steep inclines from a stop, hill start assist temporarily prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards during the moment between releasing the brake, depressing the throttle and releasing the clutch (for a duration of approximately 1.5 seconds).
The available CVT provides the convenience of an automatic transmission with a seamless transition between minimum and maximum ratios, while also keeping the engine within an optimal RPM range for overall efficiency. To increase the performance potential of the CVT, paddle shifters located on the steering wheel allow the driver to manually simulate the stepped holding pattern.
The CR-Z introduces a new three-mode drive system that allows the driver to select between Sport, Economy and Normal driving modes. The system is activated via three backlit buttons to the left of the steering wheel.
The Sport mode enhances multiple vehicle systems for performance including the engine throttle responsiveness, electric power steering effort and the electric motor power assist. The inner ring of the tachometer illuminates red when the vehicle is in Sport mode.
During Econ mode operation, the engine’s responsiveness is tuned for optimal economy, the electric motor assist gives priority to fuel efficiency and the air conditioning system can reduce its overall load on the engine. The inner ring of the tachometer transitions between blue and green when the vehicle is in Econ mode, with the green representing more ecological driving.
Normal mode provides standard settings for steering, engine response, motor assist and air conditioning. Similar to Econ mode, the tachometer ring transitions between blue and green when the vehicle is in normal mode, with the green representing more ecological driving. Like the Honda Insight, the CR-Z offers an Eco Guide and Eco scoring feature to help drivers track progress of efficient driving styles.
There are two trim levels: the base CR-Z and the CR-Z EX. Standard features on the CR-Z include Vehicle Stability Assist, an AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry, cruise control, and more. The CR-Z EX adds, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlights with Auto-On/Off, fog lights, a 360-Watt AM/FM/CD premium audio system with seven speakers including subwoofer, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and more. The CR-Z EX is available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition.
The low vehicle height and placement of the battery and other hybrid components beneath the rear cargo area further contribute to a low center of gravity, which is key to the new CR-Z’s responsive, sporty handling. Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering enhances steering performance and improves efficiency.
The Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure helps protect vehicle occupants in a frontal collision. Additional safety technologies include standard dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; standard front-side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side-curtain airbags, active head restraints; an anti-lock braking system; a tire pressure monitoring system; and a pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle.