While the 2010 Honda Insight is the company's big hybrid news for this year, it's far from the only new hybrid headed to us from Honda. As we've noted before, Honda will launch two more hybrids in 2010 as 2011 models.
Now, Honda has released photos of its "CR-Z Concept 2009" show car, to be displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show, opening October 24. The 2011 Honda CR-Z two-seat sports coupe will go on sale in Japan next February, and should arrive in the U.S. next spring.
Small, sporty two-seater
The CR-Z is the spiritual successor to the 1983-1991 Honda Civic CR-X. That car delivered zippy performance from a small 1.5-liter engine, plus superb gas mileage (EPA ratings of 41 mpg city / 50 mpg highway).
The EPA rates the five-passenger 2010 Honda Insight hatchback at 40 miles per gallon city / 43 mpg highway, for a combined 41 mpg. We would expect even better mileage from the smaller, lighter two-seat 2011 CR-Z, though it may also be more powerful.
The 2011 Honda CR-Z is car is rumored to feature a peak power rating of 140 horsepower combined between its engine and electric motor. By comparison, the 2010 Insight's 1.3-liter engine is rated at 97 hp, and its ultra-thin electric motor at 10 hp.
The CR-Z will share the platform of the 2010 Insight, and we deeply hope that it provides the same delightful rollerskate handling that made the CR-X so beloved 20 years ago.
In our drive report of the 2010 Honda Insight, we found its ride to be "hard and jiggly" with more body lean than other Hondas. A smaller, lower, and lighter CR-Z should do better.
More practical for production
The wedge shape of the original 2007 CR-Z concept car has been refined into a more practical and production-ready profile on the CR-Z Concept 2009.
Honda released only the images, sans any specific details, but clearly this year's concept is closer to production trim in such items as bumper, headlights, and interior fittings.
Honda also hasn't said anything about pricing, though it squeezed every possible cost out of the 2010 Insight to bring it in at $20,470 including delivery, making it the lowest-priced hybrid sold in the U.S. Given its sporty nature, we anticipate that the 2011 CR-Z will cost a bit more.
And despite its subcompact (or even smaller) size, we expect the 2011 Honda CR-Z to do well in U.S. safety tests. Its platform mate, the 2010 Insight, was a top safety pick by the IIHS, for instance.
Next in line: 2011 Honda Fit Hybrid
The third member of the hybrid trio is the Fit Hybrid, an adaptation of the current 2009 Honda Fit now fitted with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine. That car will go on sale "before the end of 2010".